Analysis of current organizational structure at Muni Equipment Maintenance Division

To: The Mayor of San Francisco

       Muni Equipment Maintenance Division

From:

Muni Equipment Maintenance Division- Case Study

Analysis of current organizational structure at Muni Equipment Maintenance Division

The current organizational structure at Muni Equipment Maintenance Division is line structure. It is line organizational structure for various reasons. First, authority in this division flows from the top to bottom. The authority is flowing from the top-most person in the organization, San Francisco Mayor, to the person in the lowest rung, the employees. Second, each tier takes instructions and communicates with immediate superior. For instance, Municipal Railway General Manager takes instructions and communicates with the MTA Board of Directors.

I think that this current organizational structure is a major factor behind Muni’s problems. First, with a line structure, if a key person leaves a department, a problem arises. For example, when Rich Rogers left electric trolley and LRV divisions, these divisions experienced a lot of problems. Second, with line structure, a superior is expected to manage many tasks. One person is left with the task of making various decisions. Increased overload reduces one’s productivity leading to many problems that Muni is experiencing. Third, there is ineffective communication. The top-bottom communication facilitates ineffective communication. This explains the hostile and ineffective relations between supervisors and low-level employees.

Changing the current Muni structure would be important for improving organizational performance. Clearly changing the line structure would enable Muni to adopt a better structure that would improve its performance.  For example, a functional structure would be better. This structure would ensure that there is better communication in the organization. Communication is key for Muni to improve its performance. With open communication, employees would express their concern and vice versa. When these concerns are addressed, employees will be motivated associated with improved performance.

With open communication, appropriate supervisors will be appointed. This will prevent current hostile and ineffective relations between employees and supervisors which is demoralizing. There would be better management in the organization. This would enable Muni to deal with the problems it is currently experiencing. Also, changing the current organization structure would prevent discrimination in appointments. With a better structure, Branston would not have latitude to make high-level appointments of people she preferred.

Also, changing the line structure would enable Muni to reduce the risk of instability. With a line structure, the top-most executive must have the necessary skills to lead an organization. Otherwise, an organization can fail. Although Muni’s General Manager, Curtis Green, was well-intentioned and liked, he was not in a position to cope with the growing complexity of his position. This exposed the organization to the problems it is facing. A better structure would reduce this risk of one person leading the whole organization. Most importantly, the organizational structure should promote teamwork, open communication, seek to motivate employees, and promote efficiency.

Analysis of cultural diversity at Muni Equipment Maintenance Division

Currently, Muni is not embracing cultural diversity. Diversity, in this case, means having people who differ on characteristics that they identify as their social identity. An organization with a culturally diverse workforce would have gender inclusivity, people from different races, ethnicities, age, religion, and sexual orientation among other characteristics. This workforce would be working in collaboration towards achievement of common goals. Based on Cox’s frameworks on diversity, Muni does not promote cultural diversity. For example, the organization has only two female managers in EM.  Also, Muni creates a social gap by separating the Irish and Italian veterans group from the Black and Hispanic newcomers group. Instead of promoting diversity, the organization is creating tensions and suspicions between groups.

Issues related to cultural diversity are clearly contributing to Muni’s problems. When Muni employs people with different cultural backgrounds and fails to unite them, then conflicts arise leading to the current problems. When cultural diversity increases, what happens is that categorization processes and social comparison starts occurring. This creates barriers to social interaction. The result is what is being witnessed, tensions and suspicions within the workforce.

According to Cox, with a culturally diverse workforce, employees learn to work in solidarity with others and conform to the norms of other groups. This gives an organization an opportunity to benefit from a diverse workforce. For Muni bringing together the veteran mechanics, Italian and Irish group, with new workmates, Hispanic and Black group, would ensure that new workers learn better skills associated with better performance. Again, an organization is stronger when working as a team. 

To make Muni more culturally diverse, it is important to change the leadership. The top leadership should be committed to promoting cultural diversity. Without top support, it will be impossible to get the benefits of a diverse workforce. Second, the recruitment strategy should be changed. The organization should not recruit only to satisfy the federal non-discriminatory and affirmative action standards. Instead, it should focus on recruitment strategy that would have a positive impact on its performance. This includes hiring a diverse workforce with required skills.

Key Organizational Systems

Muni should change communication and training systems to significantly improve its services. Currently, the training system is inefficient. For the training mechanics dealing with specialized needs, there is no training. When provided, it is done informally by veterans. This kind of system is unsatisfactory and unreliable. This means that mechanics give unreliable services. This hinders Muni from giving its customers the right services. This is considering that many buses will be on hold for repair whiles others will break down in the middle of the journey.  The communication system is currently poor and ineffective. The ineffective communication lowers employee performance which lowers Muni performance.

Improving communication and training systems will improve Muni’s ability to fulfill its mission. Muni’s mission is to provide improved public transportation services. By improving training and communication systems, the employees will be proud of what they are doing and develop improved morale. High morale will become a standard in the organization. When employees are involved in decision making through open communication, they will feel like they are part of the organization. So, they will identify the Muni’s mission. This will improve repairing tasks. Also, with the improved training system, the mechanics will have necessary skills to fix the buses. This will improve the rate at which an average mechanic works improving their productivity.

Changing these systems will impact other organizational dimensions leading to better functioning Muni. The changes will require the organization to adopt a better strategy for a competitive advantage, create a better structure, evaluate shared values, adopt a better leadership style, fill vacant positions, and ensure current employees have required skills. With improved communication and training system, Muni will be in a better position to fulfill its mission. Otherwise, more buses will continue being on hold for repairs which is bad for the already bad reputation of the company.