Managing and Leading Change: A Case Study of Partexceltron

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Every organization despite its size, mode of operation or production specialty is bound to encounter challenges in its day-to-day operations. Partexceltron Ltd being a medium-sized, family-owned company is no exception. In regard to my understanding that is based on the report from the company, Partexceltron’s main manufacturing base is in designing and producing micro-chip boards which are then used in the white-goods consumer sector. The company was started by the current managing director, Jack Stevens and his wife Kate, 10 years ago. Later on, the couple’s twin sons, Martin and Simon Stevens came on board to help with the running of the company and were put in charge of different departments, Production and Operations Management and Commercial director respectively (Porter, Angle & Allen 2003, p. 27).

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Originally, the company operated out of an old school building with only 15 employees but due to the good reputation it acquired for quality work, good delivery times and good customer service, it has undergone considerable expansion. The company has experienced much growth and development over the years and is currently located in units 13 and 14 at the new Industrial Estate and with employ of 106 staff. With the successful growth that the company has been experiencing, a few challenges have also been cropping up. The majority of these problems are particularly related to employee satisfaction (Paton & McCalman 2008, 44).

The employees are the core of any running organization and without them, not much can be achieved. It is, therefore, very necessary to ensure that employees within the company are always comfortable and satisfied enough to exhibit their best potential in their work. This in turn guarantees that the yield produced meets set standards of the company and expected standards of clients. In this case study, employees of Partexceltron Ltd were always very happy and comfortable in their working conditions owing to the considerable time and expenses that Kate had spent on ensuring that work stations were well appointed and the physical environment was as pleasant as could be. However, things took a turn after the alteration of management within the company. This was because Jon Jones, the manager of the production area and a graduate engineer, had considered himself to be the natural successor of Jack Stevens. The arrival of Simon and most especially Martin as the Production and Operations Management caused him to be deeply disappointed and thus created resentment towards Martin. Jones, being a popular man garnered a lot of support from most of the production staff who demonstrated their disapproval Martin’s appointment by being uncooperative (Kotter 1996, p.23).

The situation was further accelerated by the diversification of the product base to include micro-chip modules. At the start of the program, it was agreed that Jones would take on full responsibility of the existing product base while Martin would manage the introduction of the new product. The introduction of the new product included the training of a staff in the manufacture of the micro-chip modules. Since the delivery of the product was to be made in 6 months, further discussion effected that a small group staff would be trained first for the purpose of that delivery and from then on, all staff will be integrated into the training of the new techniques. However, Simon was securing a lot of new contracts and in new production requirements which needed skilled operatives (Thompson 2003, p. 96).

As a result, the time and opportunity to train the rest of the employees had not been presented and this caused a sort of bridge between the board operatives and the module operatives. All the workers had been made to understand that after the first group of 16 had been trained, everyone else would also be trained and therefore achieve equal pay rates. Contrary to that, they felt that only the privileged few had been given the opportunity to do better work, in better working conditions and earn higher wages while they on the other hand were treated as second raters yet they worked just as hard in producing modules. To add to the injury, there was a rumor circulating that the company was downsizing which meant the board operatives who were untrained would lose their jobs. Despite the rumor being misinformation, most of the employees were devastated that they had not been told about it by the administration and were even looking for employment elsewhere (Rayner 2009, p. 50).

From the above description of events, it is clearly evident that the there is poor employment relations in the company. The employees of Partexceltron felt that the company was no longer a great place to work because in spite of having trusted the management, they felt ignored and worthless. The managers on the other hand, were shocked on learning how much the tide of resentment had grown within the company. This is because although they had been aware of the tension that was there between the 2 emerging groups, they had assumed that everyone was satisfied with the working arrangements and the pay rates. They had been too busy concentrating on the technical branch of the company to deal with the employee relation. It is obvious that communication between the executive administration and the workforce was very limited. The core part of the company had been neglected for a long time leading to dissatisfaction and instead of the newly introduced work giving everyone better opportunities as initially intended it ended up splitting the employees into two groups.

Fortunately, the situation has not yet deteriorated to unmanageable levels and can be rectified in good time. Although, Martin had been thinking of recruiting 12 new operatives to work in the modules production due to the sales demand, he is accurate in evaluating that the major problems facing the company need to be resolved first. This is because even though there was high production and delivery expectation from the clients, it would be very difficult to meet these production obligations when the staff were not willing to co-operate and were dissatisfied with their working experience. To prevent severe consequences, this situation calls for a few changes within the organization and in the modus operandi of its running. However, this would also require for the employees to quickly adapt to the changes. Just as successful adaptation is crucial in the natural world, so is it within an organization that is undergoing change. This is tactic is essential so as to avoid any drawbacks in production of the micro-chip boards and modules or delayed deliveries to the clients. However, these changes ought to be realistic, attainable and measurable. (Tosi, Mero & Rizzo 2000, p. 53)

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First and foremost, it is imperative that the executive administration call for a general meeting with the entire workforce as the first step in resolving employment relations. A memo with the meeting’s agenda should be sent out to all factions with the date set at the soonest time possible. It is also important that all members of the executive administration be at the said meeting to show solidarity and steadfast alliance at the top of the organizational hierarchy. This is especially vital for the reason that the tension between Martin and Jones that was seen earlier on was the seed that instigated things to the point that they have reached. By subtly showing the employees that the two have reconciled and are on the same side of the team, this will send out a clear message to the staff on the company’s principles of working concurrently. Having all the executive staff at the meeting is also important in maintaining the commitment that each one of them has to both the company and the employees and this indirectly assures them of their value to the company. At this point, the staff is still angry and these are just but the first steps in trying to win their support and their willingness to listen to what the administration has to say (Ott 2001, p. 51).

One of the most central agenda during the meeting should be explaining to the employees about the company’s plan to expand into another unit by moving the module operative into a different unit. This is chiefly so as to do away with the belief from staff members about an imminent downsizing most of them have been hearing about from erroneous sources. Reassuring them that no one would be fired from their position will go a long way in regaining their trust and eliminating any apprehension, angst or antipathy towards the organization or the directors of the company. Such negative feelings greatly affect the quality and quantity of production of a company’s products. That is the most probable reason as to why Partexceltron has been having trouble in meeting deadlines on time. In the meeting, the executive should make sure that they give a step-by-step update on what has been going on in the company for at least the last year. This is to ensure that every employee has all the information concerning the company and to clear up any wrong information that may have been passed on by other people. Future plans should also be clearly set out and employees queried on their opinions and additional suggestions. This gives them the assurance that they are still an essential part of the company and their ideas are just as imperative in the success of the company as well as in the decision making of the company’s future plans.

While breaking the news of the expansion plans, it is advisable for the presenting executive to communicate his excitement to the employees by presenting the rewards it would bring for the employees rather than the organization as a whole. This could be done by explaining the need for more workers in the new facility and thus more employees being trained in module production as well as giving Kate a chance to present her plan on the new workplace design and environment and what the new features she is planning to incorporate believe this wave of excitement by executive staff would definitely transmit to the workforce and create a new attitude that would increase vigor in labour and thus improve production as well. In regard to this, it is also advisable to let the most popular executive to talk to the staff rather than someone who the employees are not yet comfortable with. In this case, letting Jones be the spokesperson during the meeting rather than Martin is most suitable. The first signs of antipathy in the company began when Martin was brought on board causing the personnel to take sides. By letting Martin be the spokesperson this would most likely cause even more antagonism as they will think that by taking the spotlight he is being favored yet he has not been in the company for an extensive period. On the other hand, Jones has worked longest with the staff and thus, they would definitely pay him more attention. This is due to the sense of familiarity they have with him and the postulation of Jones having taken his rightful place in the company which the situation creates. (Gabarro, 1992 p.32)

The chief insecurity of most people is change itself as they are unaware of what it is going to bring with it and it is therefore important to keep in mind that the staff will not delight in the change but will instead find it disconcerting and threatening. That is why it is important to check with the employees, who are going to be the most affected by this change, that they understand the need for the adjustment. They should also be given a chance to decide how the change will be managed and be drawn in to the planning and implementation of that change. The advantage of engaging individuals in planning and implementation of change is that it gives others an opportunity to engage and thus relieving those in charge of change management. It also spreads the organization’s roles and routines and brings a sense of belonging and acquaintance among the workforce that is being impacted. Handling the most sensitive phases of the adjustment should be done through the use of face-to-face communication. With change being an unsettling matter, the manager or director should be the settling influence and be keen to manage it in a way that people can effectively deal with it (Cowan 1999, p. 96).

Creation of workshops is one way of successfully dealing with organizational change. Workshops are especially effective in helping staff members develop collective understanding, be involved in the planning, take the necessary actions and have a sense of commitment in the efforts of change. The workshops should be allocated a certain amount of time within a specific time frame. This can be such as once a month, a fortnight or a week depending on the pace at which the change is expected to take place. They can even be integrated with the team meetings. In this case, since the expansion into another unit is expected to take place very soon as increase in the workforce, it is suitable for the workshops to take place once a week with each session lasting for at least 90 minutes. Having workshops in an organization and particularly in this situation is beneficial because they are very useful in breaking down barriers between employees and the managers or even between the staff themselves. They are also handy in the improvement of modes of communication whether internal, external or among divisions in an organization, as well as in the integration of employees after an amalgamation or takeover. In addition, workshops promote buy-in and involvement, thus are more participative as compared to conventional training programs. Due to this, the relationship between the personnel and the facilitator is greatly improved unlike in training where a trainer is perceived as detached. Obviously, workshops will come in handy during the transition that Partexceltron so much needs (Cameron & Green 2004, p.76).

In addition to creation of a workshop, I would recommend the company to plan for team-building activities that involve both the employees and the executive proprietors. These activities should be fun activities that are carried out away from the usual working environment and preferably during non-working hours. They are more of social gatherings and could include dinner parties, excursions or even friendly game competitions. These activities should basically be able bring people together to achieve a main goal yet be fun enough to release tensions that may have been created in the office. For example, in game contests, people should be paired off in teams which create a common goal and bonding chances rather than in individual competitions that are bound to be more aggressive than fun. To ensure that most employees are willing to attend the team-building activities at least once so often, it would be advisable to let them own the program whereby the employees are the ones who give suggestions and opinions on course of events. The company could also partly sponsor for all the events as a basis for motivation or have awards to present to employees. These kinds of activities are fundamental in making people loosen up towards each other and in the creation of a sense of connection and friendship (Hiatt & Creasey 2003, p. 111).

As evident in the report, Partexceltron requires the recruitment of about 40 new staff to be integrated into the module operative owing to the expansion into a new unit. However due to the promise that the executive administration had made to the employees of training all board operatives in the new mechanisms and the antagonism that has been building up among the workforce as a result of its unfulfillment, the best recommendation is to restrain from recruiting new employees. On the other hand, the company should select current employees who are based in the board operatives and relocate them to the module faction. This should obviously be done after the training in the new mechanisms has been completed. If possible, the company should not accomplish this through the same strategy they had used before whereby they pick out a few individuals, train them and then integrate them into the system with the promise of continuing to do the same with the rest. This would not work out well with the employees as they will believe that it is just a repeat of what happened before and co-operation from them will most likely not be improved. Conversely, if it is not possible to carry out the train of all the employees at once, the same plan could be followed but on a stricter basis with a pre-determined interval between the training of one group and another (Hughes 2006, p. 589).

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In the case that more recruits are urgently needed, they should be allocated to the board operative rather than the module operative. Assigning new recruits to the module faction would be generating a supposition that the company gave false promises to them and they do not actually plan to train board operator in the new mechanisms. By the time the company is taking its first step, it will have lost a lot of employees. Another alternative would be take in new recruits who are efficient in both board and module operatives and continue with the training program of all employees. After the course has been completed, the company’s working program can be altered to include the personnel working on shifts from one faction to the other. This is guaranteed to create a sense of equity (Cook, Macaulay & Colditt 2004, p. 97).

The company should also handle the pay rates matter. Paying one group a much higher salary than the other creates an inferiority or superiority complex with the lowly or highly paid groups respectively. A mentality of worthlessness is in turn borne in the former group and is generally bound to have a detrimental effect on the company. Therefore the management and employees should meet halfway and come to a suitable understanding on the difference in salaries that both groups feel is fair enough. This is important as it ensures that all employees are comfortable with their job positions and do not feel bullied or as if they are working under unjust conditions. As mentioned before, the satisfaction of the employee is crucial in determining the company’s credibility in terms of delivery and productivity (Fraser 2007, p. 145).

In conclusion, whichever steps that the organization decides to take in the management of change within the structure, the management team should ensure that the changes are implemented in a systematic, controlled and efficient manner so as to positively impact on the organization, and its stakeholders. Change is normally complicated and has a lot of challenges that require exceptional skills to successfully facilitate people through the mechanisms involved in a transition. This is more so because the current and future success of any organization is pivoted on its capability to change swiftly and efficiently (Brown & Ruhl 2003, p. 78).


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