As Murphy’s Law states “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. This is evident in the case of the Metropolitan Welfare Department. The welfare system was in desperate straits and after a total revamp of the welfare’s department and offices, the Clearly Street office began to crumble under the new structure. What had been a sombre and quiet place of business, before the re-structure, was now riddled with problems and in need of effective solutions. Summary of the facts
The Metropolitan Welfare system was in a state of imminent collapse. The system cost 3 million to operate yearly and cost increased by 18% annually. The regional offices were suffering from inadequate facilities. The department was over staff by 25% and there was no chain of command. Fraud and over payment took place in the organization as well as some clients were violent and verbally abusive. The mayor’s office hired a management consulting firm headed by a young Harvard graduate to make suggestions and control organizational problems. The interview process took two months after which the consulting firm presented a reorganization plan to solve the most pressing departmental problems.
The Cleary Street Office
The Cleary Street Office was quiet under the old system but problems surfaced after the organisational structure was changed. Under the new plan, the office case load increased from 2,700 to 3,125 with each worker’s case load increased by 35 clients. Previously, there had been no formal staff director but Robert S. Baxter assumed most of the communicating and reporting responsibilities and the staff looked up to him and frequently sought his advice. They however, viewed him as too inflexible in matters regarding form usage and too callous with the clients. Mr. Baxter was fifty-four and married and held a major in political science. Since Baxter’s discharge from the Army in 1946, twenty of Baxter’s twenty-eight years of service in the Welfare system had been spent at the Cleary Street Office.
A new program was inaugurated whereby office staff had to sit an examination. R. Baxter, John L. Johnson and Catherine J.Hamrick elected to take the exam. Two weeks after the exam John L Johnson was successful and he was appointed as Staff Director. J. Johnson was thirty-four and unmarried. He had a Master’s degree in social work and was a counsellor in the student affairs office. He was employed for four years at the Welfare Department. Catherine J Hamrick, age twenty-eight was single, a graduate with undergraduate degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in social work. She had been with the Department three years and was the only supporter of Mr. Johnson’s idea of starting a professional study group. As director, Johnson divided his office case workers into two groups. C. Hamrick coordinated one group and R. Baxter the other, however; three weeks later Tom J. Fatica who worked with Ms Catherine left the office to work with the Public school board. After two unsuccessful attempts to find a replacement John Johnson then managed to transfer fifty cases to a nearby office while two hundred and ten cases were divided between the two teams and him. Baxter and Johnson disagree and apposed each other several occasions about issues related to, Johnson’s leadership style, increase workload, lunch breaks, relocating the security guard. There were complaints from clients to the department and Johnson sent out memos indicating the need to improve the level of service being offered to the clients. Further conflict evolved in the organisation, and during the next three weeks complaints increased, informal groups were formed and case workers refused to follow Johnson’s memo. (Pages 304 &305).
The core problem was a change in Organisational structure.
Organisational structure can shape attitudes and behaviour. Organisational structure defines how “job tasks are formally divided, grouped and...
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