Affecting Change Paper
University of Phoenix
Affecting Change: Leadership in Action
???Leadership is the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals??? and in many cases, strong leadership is sought out to help keep an organization on top (University of Phoenix, 2010, ?¶ 1). A strong leader should posses the following five virtues; intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness in or order to lead an organization and to manage a successful group of individuals (University of Phoenix, 2010). An effective leader also has the power to make the necessary changes that will influence the organization and direct it towards growth. In reviewing the Leadership in Action simulation, I have been hired to work for Smith & Falmouth (S&F) by Irene Seagraves, Online CEO, and I am faced with the challenge of leading a group of ???unwilling??™ employees to achieve aggressive targets (University of Phoenix, 2010). By taking on this challenge I will ???learn how to adopt a leadership style to deal with challenges effectively??? and also lead the teams towards the target goals by using the knowledge I have gained by analyzing the group structure and dynamics (University of Phoenix, 2010, ?¶ 4).
Smith & Falmouth Overview
???S&F is a mid-size tele-shopping and mail order network with operations in the US and Canada??? (University of Phoenix, 2010, ?¶ 5). Six months ago S&F started an e-tailing division known as S&F Online and the division is considered a crucial part to the organization??™s growth strategy over the next three years (University of Phoenix, 2010). Since marketing is a major driver Irene managed to move fast and put together a web development team, a logistic team, and a marketing manager that would help coordinate marketing and logistic operations with the parent company (University of Phoenix, 2010). The first version of the site was a success despite unsteady market conditions. Irene now wants to consolidate operations and I have been hired as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of S&F Online. The goal as COO is to streamline the online operations, increase the reach of the Online Sales Channel, and make S&F a profitable Strategic Business Unit.
Current Methods of Control & Cultures
Currently at S&F the online operations revolve around the Project Manager, who has handled operations until now. The Project Manager??™s six-member web development team maintains the Online Sales Channel that has been compromising the website and the online payment gateway (University of Phoenix, 2010). ???The Project Manager works closely with the Logistics Manager and his three-member logistics team who manages order handling, customer support, and delivery operations??? (University of Phoenix, 2010, ?¶ 8). The logistics team reports order fulfillment status to the Marketing Manager, who coordinates product lines, marketing budgets, and promotional activities provided by S&F.
At S&F the current departmental and organizational cultures rely heavily on team orientation. Team orientation is ???The degree to which work activities are organized around teams rather than individuals??? (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p 573). S&F Online operations have a Logistics team and a web development team who all report to the Project Manager and work closely with the Logistic Manager. S&F Online also exhibits an outcome orientation culture and some subcultures within the departments. Outcome orientation is ???The degree to which management focuses on results rather than on the technique and process used to achieve those outcomes??? (Robbins & Judge, 2007, p 573). As Online CEO, Irene doesn??™t necessarily care about how the new COO gets her job done but rather Irene cares about results and getting the work completed on time. Subcultures refers to mini-cultures within an organization and with the newly appointed COO there is definitely a sense of resentment and a cold reaction to the new position due to the shift in departmental levels within S&F Online??™s hierarchy. Soon after my appointment I become aware that there are different groups and cliques in the organization that go beyond the formal organizational structure. In an effort to meet the goals established by Irene, I must find a way to win over the decision-makers within the informal groups so that I can devise a restructuring strategy that will meet the organizational needs.
Recommended Restructuring Strategy
Currently the teams with S&F Online strongly align themselves with their leaders and these leaders are not presently influenced by my position. The only functional head over whom I hold influence is the Marketing Manager and all other employees restrict themselves to official interaction with me. As newly appointed COO I recognize that the current methods of control and cultures must change in order for S&F Online to be fully successful. To get S&F Online on path to success I am recommending a restructuring strategy that will help improve the culture of the organization and help to empower employees. In an effort to gain trust and win over the decision makers within the organization I will look to the Project Manager, James Argyle, as an ally to help me with this task. In working with James I will incorporate a transformational leadership style. By working closely with James I will have a positive and successful influence on the web development team, logistics team, and the functional heads.
The first part of my strategy is to identify employee competencies and gaps, offer training to fill those gaps, and redesign job roles to augment skills. Secondly I will establish productivity measures comparable with industry figures. Lastly I will call for a team meeting to take input from the teams on achieving the goals set by Irene and to establish a common goal for the teams. In my decision to identify crucial competencies, train employees, and empower the teams, the teams will be enabled to focus on achieving their targets effectively. By involving employees in the decision making process and setting a common subordinate goal will help specialist to combine well with the existing teams. The teams and the functional heads will help in implementing my decisions and work together to achieve Irene??™s targets.
In achieving a successful restructuring strategy the management practices that would be most effective would be for the COO to demonstrate impression management tactics, political tactics, and proactive influence tactics. Impression management tactics are intended to influence people to like someone or to have a favorable evaluation of the person (Yukl, 2006). The first objective for the COO is to win over the team??™s trust and by choosing James as an ally; I am able to slowly gain the team??™s trust and respect. Political tactics are necessary because these tactics are used to influence organizational decision. At first glance, it is obvious that S&F Online has sub-cultures formed within the teams and the teams are greatly influenced by the Project Manager James. Since I am aware of James??™s positive influence on the teams, I am able to not only choose James as my ally but I am also able to gain his support on decision I plan to implement. By doing this James is able to help me influence the agenda of the meetings to be held and getting the teams to favor the decisions I am making on behalf of S&F Online. In having the teams favor my decisions and agree to the plan I have imposed I am able to demonstrate proactive influencing tactics and get teams and functional heads to carry out the new plan, provide the necessary assistance in achieving the goals Irene has set, and support me on the changes that have been made on behalf of the departments needs.
Effects of the New Structure on the Organization
With the changes that have been implemented with the restructuring strategy S&F Online will move toward a matrix structure. A matrix structure ???uses teams of employees to accomplish work in order to take advantage of the strengths as wells as make up for the weaknesses??? (Wikepedia, 2010, ?¶ 16). A strong and functional matrix assigns the Project Manager to oversee the project. In the case of S&F Online, James will oversee the Logistics Manager, the Logistics team, the Marketing Manager, and the Web development team and report directly to the COO. Although the James will share some of the power with the functional leads, ultimately James will be the person who is primarily responsible for the project. The functional heads will provide James with technical expertise and assign resources as needed. Overall the organizational shift in structure will allow for more team interaction, regular communication among all employees, and offer employees additional resources to help bridge the skill-gap. S&F Online??™s future will look promising and allow employees to voice their concerns and be heard. The future of S&F Online will also empower the teams to focus on achieving the targets set as well as involve employees in the decision making process. The outlook of the organization will be promising and S&F Online will retain its independent identity.
In the Leadership in Action simulation, I was faced with being responsible for teams of individuals who were resistant to my leadership. When assuming a leadership role, it is important to clearly understand the team dynamics, structure, and culture of the organization before moving forward with change. As stated in the simulation, the first step of effective leadership is to identify the various needs and concerns the followers and the social networks (University of Phoenix, 2010). With S&F online my success as a leader was dependent on my style of leadership and the decisions I employed that influenced subordinate behavior. In reality it may not always be possible to maintain a fixed leadership style in addressing change related issues (University of Phoenix, 2010). In understanding change leadership, it is important to adapt to issues as they arise and pay attention to the concerns subordinates may have. A good leader can overcome an unenviable situation by motivating subordinates to go beyond the limitations of their ability and willingness in order to achieve the seemingly impossible.