The major symptom is the experience differences between Mr. Abel and Dr. Bernard. Mr. Abel is based on his detailed knowledge of business, his past experiences about problem solving and his paternalistic actions in managing the company whereas Dr. Bernard is mostly based on his educational knowledge, intellectual reflection and cooperation between the employees. Moreover, the age difference between Mr. Abel and Dr. Bernhard is very significant. Mr. Abel has no real educational background; he has been working in Media AG for almost his entire career and was involved in different positions, which allowed him to climb in the company hierarchy.
On the other hand, Dr. Bernard is much younger and managed to obtain a Master Degree in Engineering as well as a PhD in business studies. This situation is special because the two of them have a very different approach to managing the company as a result of their respective career-paths. In addition, after Dr. Bernard’s takeover of Mr. Abel’s managing position, three of the employees left the printing house, which is another important symptom, which Dr. Bernard disregarded. Indeed, he believed that those employees left because of reasons unrelated to their jobs. Besides, Dr.
Bernard imposed his management style to his new employees without analysing his predecessor’s approach since he truly believed that his way of managing the company would be a success. He denied the truth about the atmosphere in the workplace, which became tense and uncomfortable and was only concerned about the productivity and efficiency of the workers which remained relatively the same as before. The main problem, which Dr. Bernard encountered while executing his duties, was that the French employees of his company were used to traditional working methods such as obedience and following orders of their superior.
His subordinates never needed to ask themselves questions about their work, they were only told what to do since Mr. Abel was an autocratic leader and therefore he was the one making decisions and only announcing them to his employees. On the contrary, Dr. Bernard was more of a democratic leader and his way of performing was much different. He expected from his subordinates to provide suggestions to problems, to have a greater participation in the decision making process and encouraged mutual consultation rather than just giving orders.
This is a critical change in leadership style, which can be explained by different Power Distance scores between France and Germany. When the PDI (Power Distance) score is high there is a considerable dependence of subordinates on bosses, which is the case of France where the score is 68. This is a relatively high result compared to Germany, which has a score of 35. In this case where the PDI is low, there is interdependence between bosses and subordinates. So Mr. Abel and Dr. Bernard had different styles of dealing with problems, which created confusion for the employees.
Moreover, in countries with a high PDI score such as France, the power within companies is very centralised and employees are not supposed to be part of the decision making process. This created a problem when Dr. Bernard, coming from a country with a Low PDI score, tried to involve them in making decisions since these methods were completely new to them. In order to solve those problems, we can think of four different solutions with their advantages as well as disadvantages, which are the following: One of the solutions that we can consider is that the company should have asked Mr.
Abel to find another manager within the employees. The one that were here for a while and who knows how the company was managed before the arrival of Dr. Bernard. Those employees seem to be the most qualified for this position. In order to keep the situation of the company safe, they should have chosen a manager with the same way of working than Mr. Abel. When Mr. Abel was the manager, employees have learned a special way of working and they got used to do it this way. That is why it would have been better to choose and to train an employee who knows the “Abel’s way of working”.
What is interesting with it is that if this is done, maybe the company would really have been managed better and employees would not have left. The way they were managed before was how the company was at its best. The issue with this solution is that not only do you need someone with the competencies for the job but also you cannot take any employee with no experience whatsoever and just train him to become a manager. Another solution might be that Dr. Bernard should have had a training session with Mr. Abel so that he could have known the “Abel way of managing” Dr.
Bernard comes from a famous school where he learned a lot of things but those are only theoretical and by that he does not have this operational way of thinking. In that case it is hard to become a manager because all of the employees got used to Mr. Abel directions. The thing is that by having a training session and some discussions with Mr. Abel, Dr. Bernard would have been able to know more about this way of managing and then he could have had the opportunity to make modifications. What can be remember in this idea is that knowing the fact that Dr.
Bernard is an incredibly wise and smart person, he can be able to be the best manager for the company. This scenario can only happen if he was trained on how to act and how to do things like Mr. Abel would have done. However, knowing the differences between the German and the French culture, Dr. Bernard may have not approve of this proposal because of how the work is done in Germany and how he was trained to act in a management position. There is an enormous gap between the Power Distance of those two countries and it plays an important role on how management is handled in each of them.
To finish off, the last solution to consider is the “Do Nothing” one. As the title says, with the do nothing solution, you do not change anything. If this solution is used, the company will continue to be managed as it is by Dr. Bernard. While doing so, it will lead the company to drown and the employee will not be satisfied and will start to eventually leave or sabotage their work. In any way, it is not the worst solution. At some point, the mentalities need to change and to evolve; the French can learn a lot of things using the leadership style of Low Power Distance cultures.
Those countries have the perfect model for this, everyone feels and, most important, is at the same level; subordinates or not. Nevertheless, French people are known to be very strict and conservative for some things and everything that “touches” the way they work is not to be changed. They have been learned to act and work like this in school and nothing can changes their minds. They will not accept to obey to someone who wants to get into their working scheme, and especially to a foreigner. After going over those three alternatives solutions, it is preferable to choose the best one which seems to be the second one: Dr. Bernard’s training session with Mr. Abel. Why choosing this solution? When we think about it, all the employees of Media AG France were trained and grew up strong while being under the commands of Mr. Abel and the firm has never been at its best than during those times. Now that Mr. Abel left and that Dr. Bernard replaced him, it is normal that some changes occur because of the cultural differences between France and Germany. Indeed, the company went down with Dr. Bernard’s arrival at the head of it but everything that he proposed was not all bad.
By having a training session and some “understanding the French culture course” with Mr. Abel, he would have been able to be the best from the beginning to the end and please every single employee. When cultural differences interfere with a managing program, people can be disturbed by it and act in a way that German people like Mr. Bernard cannot understand. Furthermore, what can be added to this theory is the fact that they can take both the good sides of French and German leadership and make the most out of it for Media AG.
Adding, for example, more responsibilities to the subordinates and make them feel as equal as the superiors can improve their self-esteem and with it, their productivity. However, using some French leadership style can also be positive for the subordinates because as they are used to it they will more easily follow the rules. Also, having a certain distance between the superior and the subordinates is key to respect in both sides. In the end, Dr. Bernard is a really good manager in his own way and he can be even better by adding a little “French Touch” to his leadership style. A good leader is someone capable of flexibility.