Organizational behavior, conception of a matrixed organization

You have been hired as the department manager for Customer Service for the Superior Widget Corporation (SWC). SWC is a young organization (two years old), and is experiencing rapid growth pains. The CEO has determined that the Sales department, which had been responsible for sales and customer service, is heavily sales oriented to the detriment of customer service. To maintain SWC's rapid sales growth and ensure a standardized approach to addressing customer feedback and concerns, the CEO centralized the Customer Service Department. It is no longer merely a team within each sales region. The CEO implemented this change quickly, without feedback from affected departments. This change resulted in a number of positions being eliminated or downgraded within the regional sales departments, creating anxiety and strained relations within some parts of the organization. On the other hand, some departments have welcomed the change, and have expectations of improved communication and teamwork with the new Customer Service Department. In addition to this, you are also responsible for working in a matrixed style with other business units. You have regular meetings with the other SWC Department Managers to address and act upon cross-functional issues (e.g. customer order processing, resolving customer complaints in conjunction with the shipping division). You need to quickly assess your new organization and department and determine a plan of action.

Details: In Superior Widget Company's conception of a matrixed organization, you and the other department managers are assigned to a functional area (e.g. you are the manager of the Customer Service Department) and are also expected to work together to assess and solve problems across functional lines. This is often referred to as "managing the white space" between the functions on an organizational chart. You and the other managers are expected to coordinate efforts between all of your respective departments in streamlining organizational processes and in implementing new objectives from upper management.

Identify two potential areas of conflict within or between departments caused by the creation of the new, centralized Customer Service Department. Discuss how you would approach the situations with the manager of the Sales Department and other departmental managers to create a cooperative environment within your matrixed organization.

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