29 October 2018
Making the workplace humanised again
From left: Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Prof Philippe Burger; Acting Vice-Rector: Academic, Prof Hendri Kroukamp; Prof Tina Kotzé, and Prof Helena van Zyl. Director: UFS Business School.

In a rapidly changing world, companies are increasingly being evaluated on the basis of their relationship with employees, customers, communities, as well as their influence on society at large. Gone are the times when institutions and corporates were assessed purely based on financial performance and product-quality.

Relationships matter

Prof Tina Kotzé, an industrial psychologist and professor at the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School presented her inaugural lecture on The Voices of the Workplace: A Social Systems Perspective on Leadership on Thursday 11 October 2018 at the Bloemfontein Campus. She mapped a path that leads to organisations becoming more human-centred in their operations.

Social systems and leadership

In her argument, Prof Kotzé problematises the concept of hierarchies, given their tendency to exert too much structure and control. She also touched on the importance of taking into consideration factors such as the underlying assumptions and expectations of the various voices that influence the workplace.

“Leaders need to look at their organisations from a social-system perspective, critically examine the DNA, underlying assumptions that drive the thinking, decisions and actions in organisations. To do this we need to think differently about leadership,” she asserted. 

Overcoming resistance to change

Transforming organisations from a hierarchy to a social-systems model is a challenge due to their inclination to develop a pre-determined order which often replicates itself by reinforcing assumptions and old thinking styles.

Some of Prof Kotzé’s proposed solutions to navigating the complexities of organisations include shifting the mechanical way workplaces are viewed, discarding hierarchies, inflexible reporting lines, and challenging the unquestioned underlying assumptions that drive the strategy, structure and policies in organisations. 

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