At any time in our lives, we have all encountered any number of professional environments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the adult who has been in the workforce between 1978 and 2006 has held an average of 10.8 jobs (Bureau of Labor Statics, 2008). In such environments, one is bound to encounter both the most rewarding of working experiences, as well as difficult work experiences. In my history of different work environments, I grew more as an employee and had better relationships with my coworkers when I was in an environment that allowed and encouraged me to learn and solve problems, as opposed to in an environment that was rigid and did not foster any kind of personal growth .
An employee’s ability to learn and problem solve plays a key role in an organization’s effectiveness. According to Brown and Gray (2004) “The real genius of organizations is the informal, impromptu, often inspired ways that real people solve real problems in ways that formal processes can’t anticipate” (p.4). When the formal processes become what is “lived by,” the ability innovatively solve problems is diminished, or more significantly, the desire of an employee to engage in a creative problem solving process is reduced. This is important to note because often, the organization that encourages learning and individual expression often can respond to problems and make more effective decisions (Coles, 2004 p.176).
I found myself more committed to the organization that I worked for when I was “in the trenches” helping to solve problems and allowed to contribute to the creation of new processes as opposed to relegated to the sidelines to allow the “important” people to make all the decisions. I am, in essence be a working member of the organization. For me to be able to be an effective and contributing employee and coworker, my supervisor had to be able to meet me halfway and allow me to have the freedom to explore, learn, and contribute. One specific instance that comes to my mind is an example of when a leader, my supervisor, did encourage me to take responsibility for a new process. By working together, we were able to develop a new system and process that contributed to the overall effectiveness of the organization.
In contrast, I had another supervisor who did not always encourage me to take responsibility for a process, and in fact, did not encourage any personal investment into the job at all. As a result, my productivity decreased and I increasingly sought other avenues, not always appropriate for a professional environment, to explore and problem solve. An organization, and specifically a supervisor, that strictly manages and micromanages its staff will most likely find that the staff is less likely to engage in creative problem solving activities at an organizational level. This is problematic for both the organization and the staff by fostering an environment that does not engage in continuous quality improvement.
However, within this...