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Harmonising Human: Knowledge on building organisational strength

By:

Dr. Syafiqah Abdul Rahim

Researcher Malaysian Youth Council (MBM)

An organisation thrives with good organisational leadership. Everyone can be a leader. It is possible for everyone. We see a good number of leaders-centric youth development programmes that continuously gaining interests across government agencies, higher education, schools, training centres and business alike. It is interesting to observe such phenomenon, whereas it also highlights the limitations in choreographing human connection in an organisation, given the leaders-centric approach. I am proposing for us to pause and reimagine the understanding of what leadership and leaders looks like.

Leaders without organisational knowledge is like guiding without having the basic knowledge of the team’s strength. One may associate leaders to authority, or titles that came with a position in society. The other may associate leaders as someone to look up and refers to. Both might be right. There are three main aspects that a leader should take into consideration to lead an organisation and benefitting from its strengths, regardless of the size.  The first is to humanise people interaction. The second is having the full knowledge of the role, function, structure and the position of the organisation in society. Third is understanding the diversity in organisation.

Humanising human interaction

Human interaction between one to another further eases with the use of instant messaging platform such as WhatsApp and Telegram. The use of instant messaging platform is effective in disseminating information immediately, however its use in organisational development is an interesting topic to be researched on in our local cultural context. Unfortunately, there were lack of boundaries when it comes to mobile instant messaging platform as such. Deliberations and awareness to respect he receiver’s time is required when sending out messages.  It is pertinent to keep in mind that we are dealing with humans with emotions, moral and ethics behind those screens. Job delegation and orders tend to be one direction communication and does not foster effective communication. It emphasis one person to listen and highlights the authority of a leader to give orders. Hence hinders the creation of space for discussion and creative solution if there is problem or conflicted matters. For a team in an organisation, the use of Whatsapp group and any form of mobile messaging platform are helpful for dissemination of information. A research by Licoppe , Cudicio R, Proulx (2014) illustrate how Instant Messaging is used to pose quick question, and immediate response that requires minimal effort and is useful when the recipient is already connected to the subject of conversation, thus presenting both challenges and partially, solution to the dilemma of risking their colleagues as an instrument during knowledge transfer process in an organisation. This leads to the second point of leaders’ knowledge on organisational structure, rules and tradition. 

Knowledge on unwritten organisational rules

The second point emphasis the importance of acknowledging and practical approach in organisational structure, rules and tradition. Establishing relationship and building on organisational strength require leaders and members to be attentive and sensitive towards organisational structure and hierarchy. This includes clear organisation chart, flow of orders and job description, where both leaders and members of the organisations show know who is responsible for specific tasks because it will lead to the right person to refer to.  It may become an issue if the leader does not aware of his or her responsibility and tend to cross into other people’s jobs scope. Clear job division either with horizontal or vertical hierarchy of an organisation may empower and acknowledge their subordinates.  Clarity on organisational structure will also lead to smarter job delegation as it could lessens redundancy in completing tasks.

There are possibilities of communication barriers and misunderstanding if the leaders have insufficient knowledge on the organisation’s function and structure, that includes understanding the position of the organisation in society. Mediating position of organisation in society involve knowing the priorities of the organisation – for example, the members and affiliates. One should also be cautious with potential collaborators to amplify the benefits to the organisation by being selective and smart.

People First The third point is to remind ourselves that we are interacting and working with human. Technology such as instant messaging platform or voice note is just a tool to mediate our action. The most important thing is the development of individuals in our team collectively. Each individual in an organisation have different needs, expertise, experience, with colourful attitude and personality.  Understanding the subordinates’ traits and expertise may help the leaders to decide in assigning specific task to their subordinates.  Hence, it is important to know the individual strength and develop trust between leaders and the rest of the team. Yes, the objective have to be clear for the team to move forward, but be assured that the objective can only realised with the effort of individual humans in our team. Hence, it is important to include the basic human element of safety and security, appreciation, emotions, ethics and moral values. In conclusion, we have to learn how to connect with the individuals within the organisations and understand the organisational structures and individual roles to build on organisational strength.

Date: 21st September 2020

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