Analysis of Organizational Behaviors in Glengarry Glen Ross
Rosie Organizational Behavior Professor 2011 Final Paper-Organization and Management Analysis of the movie: Glengarry Glen Ross Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 film adaptation of a play by David Mamet. The film depicts four salesmen pressed to sell the Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms real estate properties. It is assumed that Mitch and Murray, the unseen business owners, are unhappy with the sales performance of the office, as they send a motivational speaker, named Blake. Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) is sent to challenge the staff.Blake is merciless in his criticism of the salesmen.
Blake holds a stack of cards containing contact information of people interested in the property. He waves the stack of potential leads and declares the group is not worthy to have them. With derision, Blake reiterates the salesmen’s ABC’s of “Always-Be-Closing”. He announces the Glengarry leads will be awarded to the salesman who closes a sale. With disgust, he gives the group an ultimatum; he announces there will be a sales competition; only two will win their job back.The top seller will be awarded a Cadillac Eldorado, the runner-up will win steak knives, and the third and the last place will lose their jobs.
The men react to the competition and ultimatum in different ways. The current top seller in the group, Ricky Roma, (played by Al Pacino) embraces the challenge; he has no doubt he will win the Cadillac. Shelley Levene, (played by Jack Lemmon), is a desperate man. He was a top seller in the past but his sale techniques are no longer effective; he is desperate to make a sale, he has a sick daughter in need of medical attention.Dave Moss (played by Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (played by Alan Arkin) are angry and resort to complaining that the owners don’t understand that without good leads they will not be successful.
In frustration, Moss commiserates with Aaronow and begins to devise a plan to steal the Glengarry leads; he suggests Aaronow can steal the cards and he will sell the prospects to their competitor for cash. This behavior highlights the observation made by author Greenberg; unhappy staff may behave badly.In the text book Behavior in Organizations by Greenberg, he explains this deviant organizational behavior is the “actions on the part of employees that intentionally violate the norms of organizations and/or the formal rules of society”. (Pg. 396-397). Furthermore, very angry staff may exhibit destructive organizational deviances which are acts that violate both organizational and societal norms.
The business owners, Mitch and Murray are clearly disconnected from the day-to-day operations. The owners are high at the top of a tall organizational structure; they don’t speak with the sales staff directly.Instead, they send an outsider to motivate the staff. There is a toxic organizational culture, the salesmen feel they are not valued; Blake snickers at the group, “These are the Glengarry leads. And to you they’re gold, and you don’t get them.
Why? Because to give them to you would be throwing them away. They’re for closers. ” The group listens in shocked amazement. It is not clear why a destructive method was chosen for the intent of motivating the sales group. Blake leans into Moss’ face and sneers, “… I made $970,000 last year. How much did you make?.
.. “. Blake looks at the group.There is no respect in his attitude and speech. Blake’s barrage of insults and negative energy sets up the Golem effect; it is a set-up for failure.
As Greenberg described the Golem effect is, “a negative instance of the self-fulfilling prophecy, in which people holding low expectations of another tends to lower that individual’s performance. ” (Pg. 83). Blake’s abusive language and derision is clearly breaking the spirit of the disheartened salesmen. There is no relationship between Blake and the salesmen, and yet the owners expect he will motivate them to produce sales.
Upon the office wall is a poster which says, “Salesmen are born, not made”. This is the trait leadership approach of the “great person” theory; it is the belief that some people are born with special traits that set them apart from others. (Greenberg. Pg 450). This may explain Blake’s derision for the sales group; as he closes his rant, he says, “I came here because Mitch and Murray asked me to.
They asked me for a favor. I said the real favor, follow my advice and fire your f—— a– because a loser is a loser. ” He clearly believes they are not great people and are not born with the attributes to be leaders.The great person theory describes born leaders have special traits in common; as Greenberg describes, born leaders share traits and characteristics of: Drive, Honesty and integrity, Leadership motivation, Self-confidence, Cognitive ability, Knowledge of the business, Creativity, and Flexibility. (Pg.
450). While Blake may have some of the attributes, he did not possess the attribute for “Flexibility”. Greenberg defines Flexibility is the, “Ability to adapt to needs of followers and requirements of situation. ” (Pg. 450).Blake did not adapt his approach to create inspiration and motivation for the sales crew.
He used pressure to power his influence by giving them an ultimatum or they face losing their job; and pressure to produce a sale in order to be rewarded with a valuable lead to another sale. Motivation is not only about money. As Greenberg points out, motivation and job performance are not synonymous. (Pg. 215) Occasionally, even with high motivation, the job performance outcome is not successful.
Salesman, Shelley Levene (played by Jack Lemmon) is of the old school.He was a top performer in the past but he has not adapted or evolved his sales approach for the new generation of clients. His outdated techniques do not endear him with new potential clients; instead, they distrust him and distance themselves from the hard sell tactics and old sales pitches. Greenberg describes the expectancy theory is the belief that effort multiplied by performance will lead to reward. (Pg 230). For Levene, he is putting forth the effort but his expectancy of reward is not working; his efforts are not returning a reward.
He becomes increasingly desperate to make a sale. He is driven by his desire to keep his job and earn an income to cover the cost of his daughter’s medical needs. He franticly attempts to buy the leads from his manager but doesn’t have the money to complete the deal. In full desperation, he agrees with another sales staff to burglarize the office to steal the leads; the plan is to sell the leads to a competitor. Under stress and frustration, he berates his manager.
He tries blackmail to gain power over his manager; only to expose his misdeed and guilt.He fulfills the lower performance expectation which is more evidence of the Golem effect. Ricky Roma (played by Al Pacino) is the top salesman in the office; he has no doubt that he will be the top seller and the Cadillac Eldorado will be his. Roma is a smooth talker. He uses his skills to gain his clients trust and develop a relationship with his client.
He plies his client with drink and camaraderie; he encourages his new buddy to trust him. He employs his skills of emotional intelligence (EI), which Greenberg describes as, “the ability to make accurate judgments or emotions nd to use such knowledge to enhance the quality of one’s thinking: skills involved include the ability to recognize and regulate our own emotions, to influence those of others and to facilitate performance. ” (Pg. 132). He does this effortlessly and fully engages the trust from his client. Only then, he mentions the property for sale and closes the deal.
He maintains laser focus on attaining the top sales and winning the Cadillac. George Aaronow (played by Alan Arkin) is a disillusioned and inexperienced salesman. George, a former school teacher, is new to sales and looks upon the others in the group for direction.The pressure from the management and the toxic organizational culture creates stress upon everyone in the office, including George. As Greenberg describes, chronic stressors “are the most extreme type of stressor, constant and unrelenting in nature, and having a long-term effect on the body, mind, and spirit. ” (Pg.
156). In the real world, people experiencing chronic stress have been found to develop health issues. In the movie, George is unproductive in the office and he is unable to make any property sales under the stress created by Blake’s ultimatum to be the top seller. Stress affects everyone differently.For Dave Moss (played by Ed Harris), he begins assessing the value theory of job satisfaction which is, “a theory suggesting that job satisfaction depends primarily on the match between the outcomes individuals’ value in their jobs and their perceptions about the availability of such outcome. ” (Greenberg.
Pg. 193). Moss sees himself in the “out-group” of a leader-member exchange (LMX) model. He feels he cannot succeed without the new leads. When Blake declared, “the leads will be given to those that are able to close a deal”, Moss feels he has no chance to gain the prime leads.The “in-group” will be given the opportunities; and he can see no possibility of making a sale to cross over to the “in-group”.
He quickly begins to devise a plan to even the score against the company. He shares his idea with Aaronow; he tells him he is now an accessory because he knows of the plan. He proposes that Aaronow breaks into the office and steal the leads. Moss will sell the leads to their competitor and they will split the money. They conclude they will not get the leads under the terms set by Blake; they see no way to make a sale with the resources they have without the valuable new leads.Office manager John Williamson (played by Kevin Spacey) is an average middle manager caught between the owners’ pressure to generate sales and the disgruntled salesmen who complain constantly that the leads are bad and it is his fault they are not successful.
The power in the office is held by Williamson; he holds the “information power” and the “reward power”. Information power is, “the extent to which a supervisor has power by virtue of the information available to him or her. ” (Greenberg. Pg. 419).
By virtue of his ability to dole out the leads to the worthy, Williamson holds the reward power, “the individual power base derived from an individual’s capacity to administer valued rewards to others. ” (Greenberg. Pg. 418). Moss and Levene respond to the pressure and threat by Blake and the business by performing an act of destructive organizational deviance. In their state of emotional desperation they conclude that they have no ability to succeed, the rewards will not be shared with them, they will lose their jobs anyway, they have nothing to lose, except for the lost opportunity if they don’t act immediately.
Moss tells Aaronow of a plan to get the leads. Aaronow wants nothing to do with the theft; but Moss tells him that he’s an accessory because knows of the plan. If Aaronow does not participate, Moss will name him an accomplice. Moss tried to protect himself from the possibility of Aaronow becoming a whistle-blower. The movie does not show the actual crime of the break in; the actual perpetrators are never seen.
After the break-in, a detective interviews the salesmen individually to investigate the theft. The violators, Levene and Moss, are exposed when Levene verbally slips during an argument with Williamson.It may have been the guilt from the crime and the pressure of the investigation which Levene was feeling – he stepped into a situation with Roma and Williamson. Williamson killed a sale that Roma was working and Levene could not stop himself from verbally attacking Williamson. Levene wields the counterpower over Williamson because Williamson unknowingly killed a sale.
Levene took over where Roma left off on berating Williamson for talking before he knew the shot and lying about cashing the check without knowing what the client was worried about.Williamson realizes that only the thief would know that he had lied to Roma’s client about cashing the check. Each night, Williamson banks the checks, but that night he left the check on his desk and it was stolen. With the realization, there is a shift of the counterpower back to Williamson. Williamson holds the position power, legitimate power and more importantly, he has coercive power.
Williamson tells Levene that he will tell the police detective. Levene realizes that he is caught and tries to bribe Williamson. When Williamson only sneers at him, Levene asks why? why is he doing this? Williamson says, “Because I don’t like you. ” Greenberg asserts employee theft frequently occurs, “…employees frequently engage in theft because they want to “even the score” with employers who they believe have mistreated them. ” (Pg 401).
The corporate culture of Glengarry Glen Ross is full of aggression, incivility and displays several unethical practices. Moss and Levene feel no loyalty to the company; in fact, the company had shown them no loyalty either. The Glengarry Glen Ross story opened with a rant by Blake and firing of all the salesmen.Blake was sent by the company owners and was allowed to speak derisively and caustically to challenge the staff. That set the tone for insubordination by the staff against the manager and retaliation against the owners with the break-in and office theft.
Blackmail and bribery is attempted once the challenge is declared by Blake. Levene tries, unsuccessfully, to bribe Williamson to obtain the potential leads. When Williamson understood that Levene was involved with the office break-in Levene offered him a percentage of his sales to try and sway Williamson from alerting the police detective.Williamson does not accept the bribe; but the story ends just before Levene is actually arrested. Another unethical practice is the acceptance of lying to the clients.
It was common practice among the salesmen to create storylines to attract clients to make a sale. Levene told every potential client that he was in town for just the day and he could come by to meet with the client. He tried to create a sense of urgency and false sense that the client will miss the chance of potential profits. For Roma, he plied his client with liquor at the bar and once his client was drunk, he obtained the signature on the sale contract.The salesmen share the same role of property sales forming a task group.
There is no attempt to build a team environment; instead, the owners chose to pit the salesmen against each other. There is no attempt to develop a cohesive team or provide training to improve skills. Greenberg explains, “Not surprisingly, cohesive groups tend to work together quite well, are sometimes exceptionally productive, and have low levels of voluntary turnover. ” (Pg. 262).
In this case, members of the group worked against the organization. Greenberg agrees groups can be a positive asset or negative liability; as he states, “That ame high level of focus that can help organizations when cohesion is high can be used against it when a group’s interest run counter to those of the organizations within which they operate. ” (Pg. 262). The salesmen were members of the loosely knit task group and they worked together against the organization by breaking in the office and stealing the valuable leads to potential sales.
As business owners, Mitch and Murray hold legitimate power over the employees of the organization. They have a key role in determining the careers and success of their staff.Their choice of using Blake to motivate the group is the use of the influence technique called “pressuring”. As Greenberg defines pressuring is, “Seeking compliance by making demands or threats, or otherwise intimidating someone”. (Pg.
415). The middle manager, Williamson, held the position and legitimate power but was not respected by the salesmen. He had very little influence over the group and the staff was disrespectful, cussed, and argued with him constantly. The movie story ends before an arrest is made or the prize of the Cadillac Eldorado is awarded.It ends without indication of how the business and the salesmen evolved after the theft. If I was hired to lead the next chapter of rehabilitating the office to success my first step would be to begin team building and creating a positive environment.
Secondly, develop training and skill building sessions. Lastly, develop one-on-one relationship with the staff to create goals, understand motivation, and create a plan of milestone rewards. To begin the team building and creating a positive environment, I would use Greenberg’s five stage model for group formation.He identifies the stages as: Stage 1- Forming the group; Stage 2- Storming (resolve conflicts in the group, overcome hostilities); Stage 3- Norming (developing close relationships, cohesion and camaraderie); Stage 4- Performing (work together as a group to achieve success); Stage 5- Adjourning (group disbanding). (Pg. 255).
To strengthen the team, I would find appropriate training and skill building opportunities. One of the tools would be to encourage creativity to find new ways to appeal to clients and build creativity heuristics to overcome the practice of lying to the customers. Care must be taken to find otivational speakers who inspire instead of intimidating such as the methods used by Blake. Developing staff would be another priority. Creating and develop a one-on-one relationship with the staff to create goals, understand motivations, and create a plan of milestone rewards for each staff member. By developing a one-on-one relationship between the manager and the staff member, the staff member becomes a vested member of the team.
The manager develops an understanding of the staff member’s motivations and goals and is able to benefit when matching skills, interest, and opportunities that fit the individuals (person-job fit model).The manager can inspire the staff by understanding the individual motivations and creating achievable goals and providing recognition and/or rewards for the achievements. As Greenberg observed, “people are willing to exert greater effort when they believe they will succeed than when they believe their efforts will be in vain. ” (Pg. 219). If the reorganization of the corporate culture is successful, the company can achieve organizational commitment to the extent of affective commitment, which is, “The strength of a person’s desire to work for an organization because he or she regards it positively and agrees with its goals and values.
(Greenberg. Pg. 203). For any business to be successful, a business must have committed staff that believes in achieving the business goals and the company which they represent. References 1.
Greenberg, Jerald, and Robert A. Baron. Behavior in Organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.
2. Glengarry GlenRoss. Dir. James Foley. Perf. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey.
New Line Cinema, 1992. DVD.