The financial world has been in constant shock since the events of September 11, 2001. Companies have been struggling to keep their market position, or at least, not lose much of it.
The company we are going to talk, Intersect Investments, is a finance company that deals with helping people manage their money the best way possible. Since the financial market has been passed through several successive shocks, so has the image of the companies compounding it also. This has resulted in a gradual loss of confidence from customers whom are looking suspicious upon Wall Street and what it represents. Of course, this situation has been gradually influencing Intersect Investments also. By the very nature of the product it offers, financial services, people have begun to lose their trust and belief in the company. So, we come to a position where now the company is in the uncomfortable position that needs to undergo a reform in order not to perish from the market.
Unfortunately, as it is like with any reform, there are easy things to do and harsh thing to pursue. It will require good leadership and much professional talent to make the company pass successfully this situation. Intersect investment has to show that it has the potential and capabilities to overcome the negative trend that has been undergoing through the financial markets. Below we are to present the situation, its analysis and possible ways of developing a plan to successfully overcome the difficulties.
Issue and Opportunity Identification
Frank Jeffers, Intersect Investment’s Central Executive Officer has established the primary goal of the company to become one of the three leader companies of the industry. He wished to return the company at least at the place they previously held; the third force in the financial market. In order for Intersect to become one of the three leading companies in the market it has to impress Wall Street. By this is meant that it has to attract investors that will invest their money in the company. First thing that investors are going to see is the leadership of that company. If the leadership is well known as having a high level of integrity and a good public figure than it is a plus in attracting investors because they “believe” in the business sense of the leadership. But if the leadership, for example board executive members of Intersect, has not a very positive reputation this might make investors worry about investing their money in this company, thus damaging the company’s liquidity. The fact that the company had to change its marketing and sale executive vice president, is not a positive message sent to the market and potential investors. Also, if we add the fact that the last person to be in that role resigned due to his controversies with the company’s CEO regarding the new strategy to be pursued by Intersect makes things look even worse. But the other fact that on board has come a very energetic and talented professional, like Janet, plays a positive role in rehabilitating the situation and gives an opportunity for the times ahead.
The other issue to be affronted is that of the relation a company has with its working force. This is a crucial point for its wellbeing (Simon, 2006, pg. 1). If the managing staff of the company, along with its work force, are motivated the productivity of the company will boost. But when a plan that can, or will, affect the work force is deployed it is better
to communicate with them in order to have their feedback. In our case, the plan that the company has for its future will affect the work force negatively. There will surely be new tasks to be added for the operators and it is possible to have a wage reduction at the beginning due to the changing of the company.
Thus, it is important to communicate fluently within the managing staff and develop strategies that will retain the above medium work force moral and will minimize the negative effects that this can have on company’s productivity.
Of crucial importance is the formation of a brand name and image on the market. Intersect already has a positive brand image so it may seem it has an easier job. The marketing strategy it will choose, along with all the other elements mentioned above, will determine its image and brand recognition among consumers. It is important for a company to kick-start the best way it can in the market so it can gain the biggest possible market share. Intersect can utilize all its previous positive brand name but it must also be cautious not to repeat the same mistakes others in the industry have done before it.
Stakeholder Perspectives/Ethical Dilemmas
Intersect Investments is a company that offer services that deal directly with people’s financial future. This is why the customer’s trust is a must for this company. There are different groups to be considered as stakeholders in this enterprise. The first group would be the people involved in the company as labor force; the managing team and different level professionals of Intersect that work as its representatives. They risk having the company become less attractive for customers and investors in the market. This way they will have to cut some of their labor force, or make them perform additional duties, as the current plan determines.
Another group of stakeholders would be the shareholders and investor of the company. These are the people that have put their money in the company and would like to see it successful and fruitful. If the company continues its recession the market, they will be the one who will lose their money. It is natural that they press the managing staff that the company has more positive results and achieve that as fast as they can. Unfortunately, this pressure creates artificial stress to the managing staff and work force of the company.
And the last, but surely not the least, stakeholder group would be the customers, the consumers of Intersect services. They are the one who put their money and trust in the “hands” of the Intersect representatives. If the company does not do well, then these customers would be the first to suffer the negative consequences of the situation.
So the basic ethical dilemma here is how to be loyal and focused to your customers, while remaining focused and your shareholders pretentions. All of this should be done offering fair and good treatment to your employees of all levels if you want the company to succeed.
Intersect Investments aims at becoming an industry leader in its sector. It intends to do this by providing a broad set of products and services to consumer and small business customers using a model of customer intimacy that will build long-term relationships based on trust and value to the customer.
The people at Intersect understand that implementing this vision will require revolutionary organizational change, particularly in the sales divisions.
Meanwhile the company’s management team wishes to enhance the company’s market value and profits for the benefit of its shareholders.
At the same time, retain its responsible approach toward its staff along with a high quality service for its customers.
In order to achieve these objectives the necessary managements and operation plans should be made in order to make the correct steps toward the realization of the plan.
The end state vision for Intersect would be that of building a trust and value relationship with its present clients. As showed by the data of the Sales Division, the two most evaluated things from the customers in financial services are trust and value.
This will definitely help in achieving, at least, a positive, consolidated, brand recognition among the consumers.
In turn, this would influence in achieving its primary objective of becoming one of the three leader companies of the market.
In order to achieve this result, it has to become a very attractive company for the investors in Wall Street. This way the company would ensure the necessary fluidity in cash and the potential to make future investments.
All of this can be achieved only if the trust of the customers is gained. And in order to gain that customer trust the company has to increase its overall customer satisfaction. The situation in this respect has not been very good lately and the management staff is aware of that. They know they have to change a lot in order to turn their customer satisfaction high and gain their trust.
There are different alternative solutions that can be implemented in order to overcome this problematic situation at Intersect. The managing staff at the company can choose which one of the alternative options to use as a premise to build a plan, or can choose to blend them together and form some kind of aggregate.
One possible solution would be to leave Janet “everything in hand” in managing the situation and wait for her to unleash her creative genius.
Another alternative would be to leave complete autonomy to the Executive Vice Presidents and directors of departments for their divisions. This will be done in the hope that their work in their divisions will ultimately result in a better “intimacy” service to the customers which, in turn, will increase their trust in the company.
Another option would be to make all of this in a centralized manner from the CEO or from a close board that will manage all the departments at once.
Another one would be to let the representatives of the company (the so called “low level” staff) more autonomy in their relationship with the customers.
And a final one would be to make a plan based on the aggregate from the blending of all the above mentioned alternatives.
Analysis of Alternative Solutions
The problem with the first alternative of leaving everything to Janet and wait for her to “save the company” is that it increases the pressure on her dramatically. At the same time it demoralizes the rest of the managing team who also might come with creative options.
The second option is like the first one. It increases the pressure on the executive vice presidents and departments directors of the company. This pressure will result in an increasing level of stress which will have negative impact on their work.
The third option will have the opposite effect to the executive vice presidents and other management team members of the company. the management of the plan from a centralized team, or from the CEo directly, will demoralize them and serve as a negative motivation.
The same effect will have the fourth alternative. True, it will motivate the representatives of the company and increase the so called “work force” morals but it will demoralize the managers (because their ideas will not be heard adequately) and will mean to have the company run from people who do not have the professional competencies of doing management and leadership work.
The fifth option is the optimal solution, according to me. We will discuss it below.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation Techniques
The risks for the company are very high. Since the trust on financial markets and industry as a whole has been declining dramatically, the main risk for Intersect Investments is to have a low market position which will in turn severely damage her liquidity and revenues.
This is why the management team has to act now. The fact that the previous Sales Executive President had some contradicting opinions about the new vision that Frank as CEO had for the future of the company, has a negative impact on the image of the company. if the management team fails to act fast, the major risk is to further enhance this negative image in customers eyes about Intersect Investments and this would result in a negative brand recognition. In the not too distant future due to competition the company could lose significant part of its market share, consequently its profits. This will lead to a deepening of the problems it is facing now.
The techniques the management team will use should push in this direction: they should remove the negative brand recognition image damaging of the last months and create a more positive, personal, customer-intimate image then.
As it may be clear now, the optimal solution would be the blending together of the four alternative solution options mentioned above.
- Offering Janet a decision making autonomy about the ongoing of the Sales Division. Make her report before the management team on a regular basis. The same should be done with the other EVP for their departments.
- Offer to the creative members of the management team the possibility to express their creative genius in new ideas and suggestions for Janet or the company in general. But, of course there should be a deadline to be met. It is best to find the middle solution between a short and a long deadline. This would both make them feel comfortable and responsible.
- Offer the representatives of the company the possibility that their voice be heard. Gather their opinion and evaluate and discuss them with the management team.
- Take the message out to the investor world that this company has intention to become a leader in the proper market in the nearby future. This company has a high morale work force and a group of motivated young talented, creative people who are willing to work hard in achieving these results. Ultimately this company has a plan to be implemented and all investors are welcomed.
- Take the message to the customers about the customer-intimate relationship the company intends to create.
Implementation of the Plan
In fact, the grading provided above for the optimal solution can be thought of as the practical steps to implement this plan.
The first thing to do is to leave Janet a short period of time to familiarize herself with the department staff and the other EVP’s. This should be done in a short period of time since this last, time, is something Intersect does not have in abundance at the present moment. After that, it should be expected that Janet brings some ideas of what should be changed, or not be changed, what should be added, or what should be done regarding the departmental staff, etc. The idea is that she should bring concrete proposition on how to boost the morale and conditions of the staff of the sales department. This is important because a high morale work force influences directly to the relationship the company has with its customers (Stroup, 2008).
The same should be done by the other EVP with their departments. This would create a brainstorming situation inside the management team. This is the first phase.
The second would be to gather the information from the representatives of the company. They should be asked of their opinion on the present situation, why has it occurred according to them and what do they suggest the management team to do in order to get out. Furthermore, it should be communicated to them that the company has as its intention to have a positive relationship with its work force and will do its best to treat them adequately. The Human Resources departments should be in charge of this and complete it in a couple of weeks.
The third phase would be to train the representatives for the new customer intimacy model of business that the company will pursue from now on.
It should be clear to them that who fails to adequately pass the training will not be able to continue the work with the company. It is important that the possibility be given to all the work force.
Evaluation of Results
The evaluation of results will be done step by step. The presenting of the ideas and intentions on how to act from the EVP will be done in the management team meetings. This would serve as a critique forum for them. At the end it will be the team, after proper discussion, that will decide to implement or not such an idea that x EVP has brought. This will be a check system that will allow the EVP’s the autonomy to bring ideas and proposition as they like but they shall also argument their stance before the team in order to convince them. This guarantees the responsibility part.
And the ultimate evaluation of results will be the customer feedback. Different surveys can be designed and implemented from the Human Resource and Marketing Departments after a period of time that the new customer-intimacy strategy has began its implementation. These surveys will serve as an indicator if everything is going as it is expected of something must be changed.
So, how to make things turn around for the company and make the Intersect position from head-down to head-up and rising?
It is the need to perform a radical reform in the way the company operates. The plan that the managing team has is a good one. Focusing more on individual care and intimacy, making the customer first above all, does send a very positive signal of trust and value to the customers. If the managing team achieves the desired result of re-gaining customer satisfaction then the problems related to the investors and shareholders would be eliminated. When investors see the customer satisfaction is back, they would support the company.
But, let’s not forget the key to success here. This “key of success” for the company is how it treats its work force and the communication among the management team. A motivated, high morale, work force would be of great help to the company.
Miller, K. (2006). Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes. 4th edition. McGraw-Hill Company: London & New York.
Simon, H. (2006). Administrative Behavior. 4th edition. Blackwell Publishing: London.
Gomez-Mejia, Luis R.; David B. Balkin and Robert L. Cardy (2008). Management: People, Performance, Change. 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Stroup, J. (2008). Organizational leadership. The Managing leadership On-Line journal. Web.