Affecting Change

February 5, 2017 Marketing

Leadership has been defined as the ability to motivate and influence others to work toward achieving a goal. Leaders of any organizations are sometimes faced with challenges of encouraging employees to adapt to organizational structural and culture changes. In large organizations, the effectiveness of managers depends on influence over superiors and peers as well as influence over subordinates (Yukl, 2006). Smith and Falmouth (S&F), in the Leadership in Action simulation, a company who specializes in teleshopping and mail-order has implemented a new online division that has been operational for about six months. The entire online operation was centered on James Argyle, the project manager, until hiring the chief operating officer (COO), who is in charge of S&F online. Irene Seagraves chief executive officer (CEO) has given the COO a clear set of instructions to streamline the online operation by increasing the online sales channel and turning the online business into a profitable one. The window for achieving these results is nine months away and tension has risen within the company because the appointment of COO caused a shift in levels of the organizational hierarchy.
The COO of Smith and Falmouth (S&F) is faced with the challenge of leading a group of unwilling employees to achieve the company??™s goals. The following discussion will address the established methods of control and current cultures within S&F, and make a recommendation for restructuring that will improve the culture while empowering the employees.
An organizational structure reflects the organizations culture and power relationships (McShane, 2002).Organizational structure refers to the division of labor and the patterns of coordination, communication, workflow, and formal power that direct organizational activities. The current organizational structure at the S & F Company is a formal Hierarchy mixed with limited informal communication between teams. In a hierarchical structure legitimate power is given to individuals who use this power to direct work processes and allocate resources. This type of structure has direct supervision within groups. The corporate structure here is a hierarchical one, where the chain of command flows downward. This structure is different from other structures that include complete informal communication, and standardization, which is why they are less rigid in their processes.
Many organizations try to improve the quality and consistency of a product or service by standardizing work activities through job descriptions and procedures. Standardization coordinates work requiring routine and simple tasks but is not effective in complex situations.
The culture of a group can be defined as a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solves its problems and are taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, and think in relation to those problems (Schein, 1993). S&F Online operations present culture has been identified as a subculture that has been led by the project manager. The project manager and his web development team has been running the department the way that the saw fit. The project manager works very well with the logistic manager and his team. The decision making in an organization is heavily dependent on the type of organizational culture existing in the organization. This fact is true with decision-making at the higher levels and at the lower levels in the organization. Culture is a liability when the shared value is not in agreement with those that will further the organization??™s effectiveness, as in the case of S&F.
Changing an organization??™s culture is difficult, but cultures can be changed. Culture change can take place if there is a dramatic crisis, change in leadership, young and small organizations, and a weak culture. S&F is a young and small company with a leadership change; therefore its culture can be changes. Management??™s actions that lead to change are the following: initiating new stories and rituals, selecting and promoting employees who espouse the new values, changing the reward system to support the new values, and undermining current subcultures through the transfer, job rotation, and termination.
The COO has chosen, in an effort to change the culture of S&F to undermine the subculture. The COO must identify the major players in the organization who have influenced the different social groups and cliques. The COO will need to find a way to convince the decisions makers to become part of the team so they will influence the group to become part of the team as well. The COO will need to understand the strength and character of the influential team members to create a cohesive environment. The influential members of the group are the managers, James Argyler, project manager, and Brain Kervor, logistics manager.
James Argyler value teamwork and is known for building a rapport with his colleagues. He leads by example and has inspired his team to succeed in adverse situations. His relationship-building skills have helped him to form several marketing alliances and cost-efficient outsourcing contract for the website. He is very competitive and dislikes any restriction that intervenes with his power over the web development team.
Brian Kervor interacts with a large number of employees this makes up for his lack of charisma and he is heavily involved with the teams. His keen interest in technology keeps him involves with the web development team. The high-tech order-placement and tracking solution implemented by the logistic team is a reflection of his vision. Brain??™s eye for details helps him successfully tackle challenges.
S&F will be re-structured, the web development, logistics and marketing departments will be combined to form one department or team. The team will report directly to the COO. A flat organizational structure will be implemented. A flat organizational structure means there are very few or often no levels of management between the staff and the managers. This means that the staff has some decision-making authority. Allowing the staff to have a say in what and how things are done in a company can provide for faster customer service responses. The basic premise of the flat organization structure is well-trained workers who have a true voice in daily operations means they will be more productive because they will have a viable interest in seeing the company succeed because they are now responsible for operations. Many smaller businesses operate with a flat organization structure that provides for a great deal more flexibility than other forms of operation. This type of organizational structure works best for small organizations or for smaller units of operation in larger companies. Smaller organizations allows the staff to have the authority to make on-the-spot decisions that can go a long way toward promoting positive customer interactions. The flat organizational structure has three basic benefits: communication, flexibility, and degree of supervision. Communication in this type of organization is generally faster, more reliable, and usually more effective. The staff has direct input into the business therefore; there is less likelihood of behind-the-scenes fighting and disagreement. Staff will usually accept new decisions more rapidly because they were able to provide input. The flexibility to make decisions on an as-needed basis means the company will be better able to serve its customers. Customers will not have to wait until the staff hunts down a manager who then has to hunt down a supervisor before a decision could be made. The staff member would be able to take care of the customer immediately. Finally, the flat organization structure is a bottom-up approach and relies on highly qualified, competent staff which frequently equates to happier workers and low turnover rates. Fewer upper management employees can result in an increased profit margin for the company.
The management practices or style that will be most effective for a flat organizational structure is the participative style. This style involves the leader including one or more employees in the decision-making process (determining what to do and how to do it). The leader maintains the final decision-making authority. Using this style is not a sign of weakness; rather it is a sign of strength that the employees will respect. This is normally used when the leader has part of the information, and the employees have other parts. A leader is not expected to know everything; this is why he or she employs knowledgeable and skillful employees. Using this style is of mutual benefit; it allows employees to become part of the team and allows the leader to make better decisions.
The small size of S&F makes it perfect for the flat organizational style. Flat organization structures work best with smaller companies, where it is possible to decentralize some decision-making while maintaining corporate integrity. Large companies spread out across multiple states may have a more difficult time using a flat structure because it can result in upper managers having a loss of control of the functions of the business. Large companies can use a flat organization structure by setting up each division with a flat organizational structure while maintaining corporate controls and final approval on decisions at the executive level. The flat structure affect the organization by having fewer managers will increase the company??™s profit margin. Individuals, groups and teams are given autonomy over their jobs. Autonomy is the degree or level of freedom and discretion allowed to an employee over his or her job. Generally jobs with high degree of autonomy engender a sense of responsibility and greater job satisfaction in the employees. Job satisfaction decreases employee turnover.
About Flat Organization Structure by Angela Stringfellow Retrieved July 25, 2010, from,
Leadership Styles Retrieved July 25,2010, from,
Leadership in Action Simulation,


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