The Kitchenware Company’s Change Management

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Introduction

Any modern company at a particular stage of its work faces the need for changes. This need is associated with the development of external conditions of the market and society as a whole, since the demands of buyers are constantly shifting, as well as the methods and requirements of personnel management, cooperation with partners, and regulation of the business. As Gökmen (2019) notes, organizational change is a process that enables business companies to gain the flexibility, competitive advantage, and skills they need to succeed.

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Some companies go through these changes in an evolutionary way, which requires constant monitoring and implementation of appropriate steps but does not carry significant risks and costs. Others realize the need for change in crisis situations where business viability and future are at stake. However, in both cases, company leaders must use appropriate organizational change management strategies and approaches to avoid critical mistakes.

The Kitchenware Company is one example of companies that have used effective change management models to instill success. Nevertheless, the leaders of the companies also made mistakes, and the current state of the company leaves room for further improvement. For this reason, this report will present the approaches and strategies used by The Kitchenware Company in the organizational change process to demonstrate their advantages and define flaws in need of improvement.

The Need for Changes and Its Justification

After the purchase and the first year of operation of the company, it became evident to Nick and Dennis that the company has problems that require solutions and changes. The primary indicator was that the company lost its main customers but did not acquire new ones, which also influenced its profit. For this reason, it became necessary to analyze and diagnose the underlying problems of the company.

Nick and Dennis’ first decision after discovering customer losses was to observe the company’s processes. They were in no hurry to implement changes but decided to analyze the situation. For six months, Nick and Dennis talked with new clients and checked the work of departments and employees to reveal the main shortcomings of the company. The preparatory stage is one of the most important in the change management process, since, at this stage, a clear vision of all the shortcomings and, therefore, the future of the company is formed.

As Weiner (2009) notes, successful implementation of change requires a leader with a clear vision, comprehensive message, and desire to implement it. At the same time, Miller (2020) notes that analyzing the company’s problems is fundamental to defining this vision as the organization’s weaknesses show points for improvement. For this reason, Nick and Dennis chose the right approach in the early stages of changing the company’s operating activities, despite the risks that continuing the same processes and work algorithms would cost them customers and profits.

If one applies Force Field Analysis to a company, the need for change becomes significant and visible. Force Field Analysis is based on comparisons of external and internal forces that increase the need for change or demonstrate its futility and danger (Blokdyk, 2020). The first internal strength of Kitchenware that shows the need for change is that the company does not have established relationships with customers and does not take into account their needs.

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The same problem arises and is supported by another force, namely the lack of an effective sales system aimed at satisfying the interests of customers and the personnel who practice it. For example, when Nick and Dennis visited the warehouse, they saw a board with “problem customers” who actually had different but fulfilling requests (Green, 2007, p. 10). Consequently, this approach to working with clients had to be changed. Another internal problem was the lack of focus on market needs and the unproductive organization of warehouse facilities, which led to unnecessary costs for their maintenance. All these problems led to ineffective work with clients, which led to their leaving.

In addition, the need for change was also driven by external forces. First, the shift in the dollar and pound levels affected the company’s operations and led to losses due to exchange activities (Green, 2007, p. 9). Second, Kitchenware operates in a highly competitive but limited environment to differentiate itself and gain attention and customer loyalty through product features. Consequently, both of these forces demonstrated that the company needed to change its internal work processes and its quality of work with clients.

At the same time, internal and external forces diminishing the need for change influenced the company. Such internal forces were the lack of training of the staff, their fear of changes, and the concept of work that was established over the years, which was familiar, although not effective for employees. In addition, the company had limited resources due to failures in its work but many shortcomings that required material investments. Simultaneously, there were virtually no external forces, since customers and suppliers actually needed to change the terms of cooperation, and the company acted within the framework of the law.

Thus, the choice becomes fairly obvious if one correlates the influence of forces that demonstrate the need for change and the factors that impede it. The company had many problems that threatened bankruptcy without their prompt resolution, while the only barrier was the riskiness of changes and the habit of staff to work according to the familiar system. Consequently, Force Field Analysis demonstrates that Kitchenware needed a change, signaled by customer loss and related organizational issues.

Readiness for Change

Effective innovation requires a company and its employees to be prepared for the changes ahead. This readiness means the availability of resources, a work plan, vision, as well as the desire of employees to carry out all the necessary actions under the guidance of their manager. Analysis of Nick and Dennis’s actions indicates that they demonstrated readiness in some aspects at the beginning of the project and used their leadership and skills to prepare the company in other aspects.

Readiness for change includes several factors that contribute to the effective implementation of the plan. According to Musselwhite and Plouffe (2010), these aspects are change awareness, change agility, change reaction, and change mechanisms. Diagnosing problems and shaping a clear vision by Nick and Dennis demonstrate their change awareness as they know what to do and what goal to achieve. This awareness emerged from communication with customers, suppliers, and employees and was transferred to them by the same mean. For this reason, the company and its stakeholders were more or less aware of the changes, and work with them only reinforced this aspect.

Initially, the company’s change agility relied heavily on the desire and persistence of Nick and Dennis. Over time, the leaders’ communication skills have helped to convince and engage stakeholders in the process. As the case study demonstrates, Nick and Dennis got the suppliers interested in cooperation by listening to their ideas and retaining a critical long-term customer by showing an intention to improve (Green, 2007, p.9).

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In addition, the leaders formed a new team of interested people by communicating goals to them and relocating the headquarters. In this way, the company acquired its agility in a short time frame and increased its willingness to make significant changes. For example, agility is also determined by the capability to move resources to where they are most needed (Musselwhite and Plouffe, 2010). Nick and Dennis took this approach, using all employees to organize the warehouse when it was necessary (Green, 2007, p.11). At the same time, employees recognized the need for such a change and readily contributed to this goal.

Nick and Dennis’ decisions also demonstrate that the leaders and the company under their leadership had the ability of change reaction. This skill means adequate and effective problem analysis, risk assessment, and personnel reaction management (Musselwhite and Plouffe, 2010). Firstly, many employees did not have the skills to realize new goals for the company, but training and communication helped them adapt to them adequately.

Moreover, Paul, the non-executive director of the company, is a proponent of an evolutionary approach to change, which means a gradual but constant shift towards goals. This approach allowed managers to analyze and manage employee responses and form an effective team. Second, despite an evolutionary approach to change within the company, Nick, Dennis, and Paul were prepared to respond to sudden risks and opportunities. This fact is evidenced by the acquisition of competing companies as the leaders saw the potential of expansion in this solution (Green, 2007, p. 13). Consequently, leaders adequately assessed risks and opportunities and managed the reactions of employees through communication or training, which indicates their ability of change reaction.

Change mechanisms of the company are quite difficult to analyze from the context of the case study, but one may note some essential elements. As noted by Musselwhite and Plouffe (2010), change mechanisms should encourage the achievement of goals across all functions, and some of these mechanisms have manifested themselves in the work of the company. First, Nick and Dennis only used solutions that the company could take in small steps to avoid interference of day-to-day activities.

For example, they increased marketing efforts through rebranding and new packaging of basic goods. Another example is the creation of quality training literature for the sales force, which has changed the approach to communicating with customers and stimulated sales (Green, 2007, p.10). Secondly, Nick and Dennis did not try to carry out all the changes on their own and hired specialists who gradually and efficiently implemented the set goals, such as reorganization of the warehouse. The only significant and abrupt change was the closure of the office and warehouse and their relocation, which significantly reduced costs but also created the need to recruit new staff (Green, 2007, p. 11). Nevertheless, this decision did not greatly harm the daily activity of the company but formed a new team that believes in the company’s goals and approaches to work.

Thus, the analysis demonstrates that although the company was initially unprepared for change due to the mistakes of the previous owner’s management, the approaches of Nick and Dennis contributed to achieving the required state. The most important in this process was the analysis and a clear vision of the goals by the leaders, as well as the recognition of the contribution and value of the staff, which allowed them to involve them in correcting mistakes. Consequently, leaders have created a company’s willingness to change in time to manage it effectively.

Analysis of the Approach to Change

Examining the methods and measures Nick and Dennis used and the environment in which they ran their company demonstrates that leaders have taken a hybrid approach to change. On the one hand, such problems as the loss of customers, insufficient competence of employees, or inefficient use of warehouses were unexpected and required an immediate solution, which is emergent approach to change (Weick, 2000, p. 237). On the other hand, the main goal of the company was to increase marketing efforts and improve the quality of customer service, which is a planned and long-term plan (Liebhart and Lorenzo, 2010). Consequently, while most of the changes were urgent, they also laid the foundation for the planned development of the company.

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Cotters Eight Steps of Change can also be applied to the actions taken by the leaders of the company, which demonstrate that their approach was correct. First, Nick and Denis showed the urgency of the necessary changes, renewed and formed a team focused on change and results, and created a clear vision of the future of the company (Green, 2007; Kotter and Cohen, 2014). Second, leaders communicated with employees, suppliers, and customers to understand their needs, find ideas and inspire them to collaborate. Compared to the approach of the previous owner of the company, who did not take into account the interests of the stakeholders, this attitude makes them more likely to act.

In addition, Nick and Dennis set and achieved short-term goals that the team was able to celebrate. For example, creating new education literature and training increased the company’s sales six-fold (Green, 2007, p. 9). Judging by the further successes of the company, all the adopted changes were entrenched in the organization, although the case study does not mention specific incentive measures, except for the involvement of employees in decision-making. However, this approach is also one of the most effective for consolidating changes and increasing job satisfaction (Hussain et al., 2018). Consequently, the model demonstrates that the leaders of the company used a practical approach to implement urgent and planned changes.

Another classification of change approach demonstrates that Nick and Dennis used organization development strategies. Leaders were focused on change that would bring the company a competitive advantage, while quick economic gains were given a lower priority. At the same time, Paul, Chairman, and the non-executive director, applied financial strategies and dealt with crucial change points such as company acquisitions. Thus, in general, the leaders used a combined approach to change, although the key was the development of the company and obtaining its competitive advantages.

At the same time, the company required a transformational approach to change and effective leadership to apply it, since the new owners did not yet have credibility with the employees, and the team did not have collaborative features. For this reason, Nick and Dennis used a strategy of charismatic transformation, which involves the formation and communication of a compelling vision, which, combined with the trust and loyalty of employees, should bring the desired results (Hayes, 2018, p.174).

In Dennis and Nick’s work, this strategy manifested itself in the fact that they involved employees in the decision-making process and shaping the plan, which inspired them to act and trust their leaders. This approach helped introduce discipline, shape new principles of work and increase the productivity of the team. Thus, the analysis demonstrates that the leaders of the company used their own example and charisma, which are the main features of transformational leadership that allowed them to embody change (Arenas, 2019). Combined with Paul’s prudent economic decisions in the later stages of the company’s development, this approach has helped significantly expand the business and gain a competitive advantage.

Overcoming Resistance

The case study shows that the Kitchenware Company went through many changes that were necessary to improve its operation. Each of these changes may have provoked resistance from employees who are accustomed to specific approaches to work. However, leaders used appropriate methods to overcome resistance and achieve their goals. Analysis of the changes shows that they created different forces of resistance.

First, salespeople had to improve their way of working with clients, but they lacked the necessary skills, attitudes, and culture that prioritized customer needs. According to the classification, in this case, resistance is associated with people, organization, and system of focused forces (Hayes, 2018, p. 252). The mechanistic change also applies to the company, as Nick and Dennis also implemented a system of rules for employees, although they had wide autonomy before. Other changes, for example, the reorganization of warehouses, were also related to these forces, since the employees did not have the skills to suitably organize the warehouse, as well as the technical means.

Nevertheless, the leaders of the company have applied various methods to address each of the specific forces. For example, Kotter and Schlesinger (2008) note that education and communication are the most appropriate methods of overcoming resistance when it is associated with a lack of information, and facilitation is necessary to transfer skills. Nick and Dennis communicated key goals and how to achieve them to employees to overcome their insecurities and provided training and literature to address systemic weaknesses (Green, 2007, p. 10).

The same methods were used to reorganize the warehouse, although in this case, the company hired a specialist who has more experience in this area and invested in technology (Green, 2007, p. 11). In addition, Kotter and Schlesinger (2008) note that coercion can also be used to accelerate the process of coping with change. Leaders of the Kitchenware also partially used this method, as moving the office, changing approaches to service, and organization of work was mandatory for all employees, and those who did not want to accept these measures left their jobs (Green, 2007). However, this method has made it possible to accelerate the transformation process and overcome resistance to change.

Ethical and Responsible Approaches to Planning and Implementing Change

Studying the approaches and steps taken by the Kitchenware leaders, one can note that they have taken the change in a responsible and ethical manner. First, Nick and Dennis spent six months researching the company and its problems to determine the need for change and its specifics. Second, the leaders engaged stakeholders in the discussion to find out the interests and concerns of all parties, which demonstrates their respect. Third, the leaders’ main tools were motivation, involvement, and encouragement, which helped build and unite the team to achieve the goals. Even though managers used elements of coercion, they were also based on ethical principles, benefit all purposes, and did not harm employees. Finally, all of the leaders’ goals were aimed at achieving the goals of the company and all its stakeholders rather than gaining personal profit. Therefore, Nick, Dennis, and Paul took drastic steps, but they were based on careful analysis, stakeholder respect, and a desire to benefit the company.

Recommendations

The case study analysis showed that the Kitchenware company’s leaders took many steps to ensure that change was effectively implemented and delivered to the business. However, since the next stage of the company’s development is expansion, including into foreign markets, new and more significant changes may be required. Hence, one can give the following recommendations for the further development of the company.

First, ensuring sustainability is a vital step in the change implementation process. According to Lewin’s theory (Burnes, 2019, p. 50), this stage is called re-freezing and is aimed at consolidating new approaches and methods among staff.

Sustainability can be achieved by rewarding positive results and punishing failure to follow instructions (Hussain et al., 2018, p.125). Consequently, the Kitchenware company needs to develop and implement a system for evaluating staff performance, punishing violations, and approaches to resolving disputes. For example, if an employee does not fulfill the requirements due to lack of experience, the punishment will reduce their motivation to work or will have no result, and in this case, the support of a manager, mentor, or colleagues is needed (Marlina et al., 2021, p.40). However, if an employee deliberately breaks the rules, a penalty such as a fine can be applied.

Second, it is essential for leaders to articulate and communicate the company’s core values ​​and goals to each employee to ensure organizational culture and work practices. A sustainable corporate culture is one of the most important elements to ensure efficient performance and employee loyalty (Narayana, 2017). As Kitchenware intends to expand, this task may become more difficult due to the increase in the scale of work, as well as the cultural differences of departments in different countries. Nevertheless, training for top managers and drawing up a Code of Conduct will help spread the core values ​​among all company employees.

Third, the company needs to maintain a customer service improvement and marketing strategy to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This process includes training for staff, investments in marketing and technology to improve delivery speed and customer service. In general, these recommendations can be divided into long and short-term goals and presented in the following action plan.

Short-term goals (within six months):

  1. Generate and implement the Code of Conduct;
  2. Conduct training for managers on corporate culture and employee motivation;
  3. Develop and implement a system of incentives and punishments for employees;
  4. Evaluate and adapt the customer service training system for new employees.

Long-term goals (within three years):

  1. Double the turnover to $25 million;
  2. Increase the number of production lines;
  3. Increase the number and efficiency of warehouses;
  4. Double the marketing costs;
  5. Enter the Western European market;
  6. Become the market leader in customer service.

Conclusion

Therefore, the case study demonstrates an example of effective leadership that ensured the successful implementation of the change and benefited the company. All actions of the leaders were based on the analysis of reasons, which helped determine the necessary measures, focus on results, and form a clear vision. This vision, combined with training and other motivational measures, has helped overcome resistance to change and ensure high employee performance. In addition, because the leaders involved stakeholders in discussing problems and developing solutions, their action plan was ethical and thoughtful. However, further development of the company will require an increase in the scale of production and marketing efforts and will also complicate personnel management. Consequently, steps to consolidate the changes and create a sustainable corporate culture must be performed to achieve the set goals.

Reference List

Arenas, F.J. (2019) A casebook of transformational and transactional leadership. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Blokdyk, G. (2020) Force Field analysis a complete guide – 2020 edition. Brisbane: Emereo Publishing.

Burnes, B. (2020) ‘The origins of Lewin’s three-step model of change’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 56(1), pp. 32-59. Web.

Gökmen. A. (2019) ‘Contemporary change management and leadership in local and international businesses’ in Doğru, C. (ed.) Handbook of research on contemporary approaches in management and organizational strategy. London: IGI Global, pp. 405-430.

Green, M. (2007) ‘Case Study: the Kitchenware company’ in Green, M. (ed.) Change management masterclass. London: Kogan Page, pp. 8-14.

Hayes, J. (2018) The theory and practice of change management (5th ed.). Hampshire: Palgrave.

Hussain et al. (2018) ‘Kurt Lewin’s change model: a critical review of the role of leadership and employee involvement in organizational change’, Journal of Innovation & Knowledge, 3(3), pp.123-127. Web.

Kotter, J. P. and Cohen, D. (2014) Change leadership: the Kotter collection. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Kotter, J.P. and Schlesinger, L.A. (2008) ‘Choosing strategies for change’, Harvard Business Review. Web.

Liebhart, M. and Garcia-Lorenzo, L. (2010) ‘Between planned and emergent change: decision maker’s perceptions of managing change in organisations’, International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 10(5), pp. 214-225.

Marlina, L. et al. (2021) ‘Improving employees working discipline with punishment, reward, and implementation of standard operational procedures’, Perwira International Journal of Economics & Business (PIJEB), 1(1), pp.37-43. Web.

Miller, K. (2020) ‘5 critical steps in the change management process’, Harvard Business School. Web.

Musselwhite, C. and Plouffe, T. (2010) ‘Four ways to know whether you are ready for change’, Harvard Business Review. Web.

Narayana, A. (2017) ‘A critical review of organizational culture on employee performance’, American Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 2(5), pp. 72-76. Web.

Weick, K. E. (2000) ‘Emergent change as universal in organizations’, in Beer, M. and Nohria, N. (eds.) Breaking the code of change. Boston: Harvard business School Press.

Weiner, B. J. (2009) ‘A theory of organizational readiness for change’, Implementation Science, 4(67), pp. 1-9. Web.

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