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Claire entered the Accounts Payable department at a large automotive plant in Ontario, right after her maternity leave, in October of 2005. She did not return to her previous position, but was placed in a comparable job with exactly the same pay and level of responsibility as when she had left. Claire was renewed and ready to get back to work. She valued good and competent work and was not afraid to work extra hours or even through break periods to make sure that the job was done correctly and completely. Claire also planned to continue with her part-time university study. She had completed the equivalency of two years full-time study toward an honours degree. None of her co-workers had progressed past high school.
Claire’s first impression of her new work group was that the other members did not appear to work very diligently. She overheard Andy, one of her male colleagues, selling real estate and answering calls on various properties instead of performing his accounts work. Brenda, a female colleague, appeared to spend a lot of time talking to her friends on the telephone while she slowly flipped through her bills to be paid. Bob spent most of his time chatting or flirting with Donna, yet another female colleague. Donna watched all members of the work group intently and apparently saw it as her role to keep everyone informed of everyone else’s business. Her list of confidants included the supervisor and it was clear that she viewed the term “reporting relationship” in a way not thought of by organization designers.
Although Claire was aware of these dynamics, she decided to ignore them. She was glad to be back to work and although she missed her new baby, she was confident that she could be a better mother if she was happy and working. She thought that the insights and experience she could gain in this new department would be useful in a management role later on. As far as the behaviour of her colleagues was concerned, Claire was confident that...
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