Kilmer Systems Company’s Change Management

Introduction

Effective management is associated with the power to influence others to work towards common organizational goals in order to achieve the desired objectives through their input (Islam and Ismail, 2008). Effective managers are those who “create a proper climate in which employees can develop to their fullest potential” and ensure their optimal participation (Steers and Porter, 1983).

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Kilmer System’s Need for Management and Structural Changes

From the case study, it is apparent that several changes would be required in the management and structure of Kilmer Systems in order for it to respond to competition effectively and in a timely manner. Following are some of the areas which need immediate attention for KS to enhance its market position and effectiveness within the organisation.

Customer Care

Kilmer System has been slow to respond to new technology, which ironically is the driving force in today’s global and competitive market. Adaptation to changes would require Kilmer to look into Customer Care, which has been identified as a vital component of success or companies and “a commercial must” (McAtersney, 1999). Effective customer support and care is an important aspect of businesses irrespective of whether a company is related to the manufacturing or services sector (El Sawy and Bowles, 1997). Researchers have found that companies are giving increasing importance to their customers and are looking for more ways to create value for them with the intention of changing their relationship with customers from “one of selling and order taking” “into one of solution finding and partnering” with the intention of facilitating long term customer relationships through customer care, support and services (El Sawy and Bowles, 1997). Communication technology is service driven sector in which customer care would play a crucial role. Kilmer must devise strategies and programs to find the needs of customers so that policy measures can be taken accordingly.

Since competitiveness in the market place has increase, it is essential for Kilmer Solution to regard customer care as a “powerful competitive differentiator” and use it to compete successfully with its competitors by trying to build long term relationships with clients (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). Customer care enables organizations and managers to collect vital information regarding products and services and to have a cutting edge over their competitors by using this valuable information to develop products and services (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). Thus, customer care is not merely a relationship building exercise by managers but an essential function to attract and retain their clients.

Technological changes can be initiated and implemented with the help of effective customer care, which will enable Kilmer Solution to adopt an “improvement driven” approach and use all the information gained from the customer including inputs on manufacturing defects, design problems, new product ideas, competitive rates and other such information which is passed on to relevant departments and utilized for enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of their products (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). Additionally, changes at the workplace are necessary so that managers and personnel who interact with customers use optimal customer care to establish long term relationships with their customer in order to gain their loyalty for longer periods of time, which ultimately helps the company in building a substantial base of satisfied customers which results in healthy customer renewal rates (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997).

Optimal customer care is provided by “creating value-maximizing networks” by managers to enable respond to their customers with a “speed, accountability and responsiveness unmatched by their competitors” (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). It also enables managers to engage customers in “continuous product and process improvement” with the help of which they can “pursue long term, information driven strategies” which places them for “sustained marketplace success” (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). In this competitive market, managers and organizations believe that “every customer contact creates value” and view customers not as a means of conducting another business transaction with them, but rather “in terms of lifetime profitability” on the basis of which they promote and stress the need to engage in continuously learn about the customer’s needs, problems, issues and look for ways and means to resolve them (Wilhelm and Rossello, 1997). Thus, customer care today is not simply a means of promoting recurring business transaction; rather an effective means to build a competitive edge over competitors, which can be used to improve products and services and ensure lifetime customer loyalty and value.

Increased competition faced by Kilmer needs to be tackled intelligently. One of the most popular approaches to effectively achieve this is TQM.

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Total Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) refers to a philosophy in management which aims to improve the performances of businesses so that they can gain advantage over their competitors through a strategic approach of fulfilling the needs and requirements of all customers (Pino, 2008). Once again, in this approach, the focus is on the quality of goods and services being offered to customers, thereby directly improving the performance of the company. As such, the primary objective of quality management practices “is to produce improvement in operative and business performance”, where operative performance relates to “customer satisfaction or the optimal quality of products and services while business performance is enhanced by improved financial results (Pino, 2008).

By adopting the TQM philosophy or approach, Kilmer Systems should seek to undertake fundamental changes and paradigm shifts in the manner in which they conduct business and several alterations are made with regard to the business being managed as a complete system rather than separate processes. When companies adopt the TQM program “employees are empowered, focus is placed on customers, and a set of effective management techniques is adopted” (Yeung, Cheng, and Lai, 2007). Efficiency in all processes of the business is achieved when each and every aspect of the company is facilitated to make substantial contributions toward improvement which occurs on a continuous and regular basis which ultimately results in the achievement of “learning, values, creativity and sustainability” (Miller 1993).

Research confirms that the application of TQM to organizations boosts the productivity of “human and other physical assets” which in turn leads to “sustainable competitive advantage” (Huang, Gattiker, and Schroeder 2008). The focus of TQM on customer services and satisfaction in addition to the focus on continuous enhancement and improvement of management styles, techniques, products and services by encouraging teamwork makes it similar to the Japanese philosophies which also focus on similar aspects for improving the profitability and efficiency of organizations.

The Traditional hierarchical structure at Kilmer Systems is obviously affecting the decision making process of the company by slowing it down. For Kilmer to progress and advance, it is imperative to enhance the decision making processes of the company.

Participative Decision Making

Decision making in companies and organizations is associated with effective employee participation and is considered to be a determining feature of effective management, which not only has a crucial impact on performance but also on the productivity (Shaskin, 1984). Issues at the work place generally necessitate participation in decision making with regard to the work that should be done, the process of organizing the work and the persons involved in carrying out a particular task or work (Nykodym, Simonetti, Nielsen and Welling, 1994). Cotton, et al., (1988) assert that participative decision making at work is generally direct and formal and relates primarily to work issues with the workers having an important say and influence in the decision making process. making to bring about positive changes at their workplace (Greengard, 1993).

Employee Involvement

Kilmer also needs to pay attention to employee involvement which refers to the active participation of employees in the decision making processes which ultimately leads to the success of the organization (Hoell, 2004). Employee involvement is a “participative process” in which effective managers are able to draw employees to their work places through enhanced communicative techniques, suggestions and incentives to work (Cotton, 1993). Management practices which enable employees to determine and decide how their work is performed are believed to be optimal and effective, since they have a crucial and positive influence on employee involvement (Ariss, 2002). Employee involvement also enables decision making at the lowest levels of the organization thereby improving the quality and productivity to employees (Cotton, 1993). Effective managers are those who have the capability and power to motivate employee involvement in order to encourage commitment to the organization leading to ultimate profitability and success (Cotton, 1993). Literature on employee involvement suggests that employee involvement in decision making is directly proportional to job satisfaction and high performance of employees and workers (Crandall and Parnell, 1994).

Employee Empowerment

Employee empowerment can be stated as the process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among employees and members of a company or organization by recognizing and removing those factors which could encourage a sense of helplessness among them and have a negative influence on their productivity and consequently the profitability and success of the company. Studies indicate that a workplace in which workers are empowered will not only help in retaining employees but will also draw new capable ones to it, since empowered employees are more likely to be happy and content with their jobs which makes them more likely to remain in the same company (Blanchard, O’Connor & Ballard, 2003). Top level managers have affirmed that employee empowerment needs to be taken care of through appropriate training and enhanced communication (Maxwell, 2005). Researchers note that employee empowerment has several benefits, the most significant one being the reduction in overhead costs due to the reduced managerial regulation (Maxwell, 2005). Argyris (1998) asserts that effective managers enable employee empowerment through their excellent management techniques, thereby inviting external as well as internal commitment of employees to their organization.

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Leadership styles

There is clear lack of management effectiveness post merger. The fact that the resigning staffs were allowed to go so easily and the company did not feel their importance reveals that the manager lacks leadership qualities. Additionally, the climate of the company does not appear to be conducive. Leadership style of the top-level management appears to be transactional rather than transformational.

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leadership focuses principally on the completion of tasks through rewards and punishments which impact the performance of employees, resulting in a “leader-follower relationship” based primarily on economic transactions which benefit the employee as well as the leader (Casimir, Waldman, Bartram and Yang, 2006). Transactional leadership fails to motivate employees through identification or internalisation which transformational leadership promises to achieve. Transactional leadership fails to offer the necessary support to their assistants and tend to be unmindful to the productivity of their workforce of the completion of their duties in a rightful manner.

Need for Transformational Leadership

The company needs transformational leadership which is believed to be superior and more effective than transactional leadership due to its effectiveness and satisfaction which motivates employees to work towards a common purpose and goals (Casimir, Waldman, Bartram and Yang, 2006). This form of leadership enables managers is articulate a vision to the employees and followers which also results from respect and admiration for the leader due to the display of intelligence, focus and concern for followers and employees (Bass, 1985). The theory of transformational leadership is based on the early work of Burns (1978) and later confirmed by research through its highly affirmative outcomes on followers and employees apparent through feelings of trust, admiration, loyalty and respect for their leader (Bass, 1985). Studies indicate that transformational leadership augments the levels of trust and satisfaction among followers which enables leaders to achieve maximum performance from employees through the development of skills and proficiency at the work place (Bass, 1985; Yammarino & Bass, 1990). Transformational leadership proves to be highly beneficial for employees because they believe their leaders to be sincerely concerned about their welfare and basic needs, including security at job and the working conditions (Kanter, 1983). Transformational leadership, thus, facilitates the development of faith through empowerment and encouragement with the help of leaders who enable employees to take independent decisions at the work place (Avolio and Bass, 1995).

It is apparent that the lack of communication within the organisation is a major cause for failure. Communication is of crucial importance in leadership and the two have been “linked” together (Flauto, 1999). Since interactions and communication are an important and indispensable aspect of effective leadership, it is essential for leaders to comprehend their communication styles which impact their ability to collaborate so that they can sculpt their communication style to enable them to succeed in organizations (Wieand, Birchfield and Johnson, 2008). By addressing personal styles of communication and addressing their limitations and challenges identified in their styles, leaders would be able to develop the ability to realize the barriers to effective communication and enhance their collaborative techniques to produce productive outcomes within the organization they function (Wieand, Birchfield and Johnson, 2008). Thus, it can be concluded that Kilmer needs to improve several aspects and needs to focus on building of trust and confidence among employees. A transformational leader would play a more active and motivating role to their subordinates and inspire employees to work put in extra effort to achieve organizational goals and objectives through enhanced work performance.

References

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Argyris, C. (1998). Empowerment: The emperor’s new clothes. Harvard Business Review, 98-105.

Avolio, B. J., & Bass, B. M. (1995). Individual consideration viewed at multiple levels of analysis: a multi-level framework for examining the diffusion of transformational leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 6, 199-218.

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Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.

Blanchard, K., Blanchard, O’Connor, M. & Ballard, J. (2003). Managing by Values: How to Put Your Values into Action for Extraordinary Results. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row.

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Kanter, R. (1983). The change masters: Innovation and entrepreneurship in the American corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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Yeung, Andy C.L., T.C. Edwin Cheng, and Kee-hung Lai. (2007). An operational and institutional perspective on Total Quality Management.” Production and Operations Management 16.1 : 156(15).

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