Evaluation of the proposed strategy as to human resources of Vancouver Communications
Mike Ansell, the chief executive officer of Vancouver Communications (VC), believes that the new Turkish subsidiary of this company should adopt organizational and people management systems, similar to those ones which proved to be successful in Canada and England. In particular, he insists that the managers of their Turkish branch should involve the employees in decision-making and encourage their initiative.
Furthermore, he insists that there should little or no formal barriers between the managers and their subordinates. The key rationale for this policy is to facilitate the internal operations of the firm and make them more task-oriented. Another important part of Mike’s proposal is the use of matrix management. This technique is based on the premise that an employee can work under the direction of several managers and support several business processes at a time (Gottlieb, 2007, p 1).
Overall, it is possible to argue that this proposal fails to take into account the differences, existing between Western and Eastern organizations. Moreover, the approach that Mikes advocates may not be fully applicable in Turkey unless it is modified to better suit the local business environment. At this stage, it is important to identify the distinctive features of HRM policies in Eastern companies, and especially in Turkey because this analysis may help to map out the strategies of the VC management.
First, it should be noted that the managerial style, used in Canada, England, or the United States can be called task-oriented which means that employees act primarily as colleagues, rather than as superiors or subordinates (Adler & Gundersen, 2008, p 47). Western companies tend to be flat, whereas in Eastern enterprises special attention is paid to the importance of formal hierarchy and authority. This difference in managerial style is one of the reasons why the liberal approach, suggested by Mike Ansell, may not work. One should also remember that Canadian employees focus on task performance, while Turkish workers are more relationship-oriented, and they may regard independent decisions as an act of insubordination (Adler & Gundersen, 2008; Varma et al, 2008). These distinctions should be kept in mind by Helen Reeves, the head of the new Turkish subsidiary.
When speaking about HR management in Turkey, many scholars stress the following points:
- great power distance between subordinate and superiors;
- autocratic style of leadership;
- reluctance of employees to participate in decision-making;
- absence of dialogue between the subordinates and the superiors (Tayeb, 2005, p 75).
Certainly, it has to be admitted that Turkey has undergone dramatic changes over the last years, and the country has become more westernized; however, the principles of management that we have described still remain dominant. Therefore, it is quite probable that people, who will work in this new VC facility, would be ready to follow managers’ instructions to the letter but they will be reluctant to act on their own and take responsibility for their actions. This is one of the most difficult challenges that Vancouver Communications may encounter in the future.
As it has been mentioned before, Mike Ansell strongly supports matrix management. In this case, the workplace duties of an employee are not strictly delineated and his/her skills are constantly being developed under changing work situations. Again, we have to emphasize the idea that such an approach is more suitable for flat organizations, where there are little or no formal barriers between the managers and the subordinates.
However, those employees, who are accustomed to the hierarchical structure of the company, will find it very difficult to work in such conditions. Besides, we need to bear it in mind that matrix management has several inherent drawbacks that are not related to cultural differences, for example, it is not easy to coordinate the effort of the person if they have to work under the direction of several managers at a time. Very often, matrix management leads to many conflicts between project managers and line managers, who demand a full-time commitment to their subordinates (Gottlieb, 2007).
Additionally, the performance of such independent multidisciplinary teams is not easy to monitor because they are accountable only to project managers, while other executive officers are excluded. At this point, we may remember the complaints, voiced by some of the VC expatriates: some of them say that it is very difficult to get used to the fact that the teams are re-organized on a regular basis. As a result, a person “feels lost and like a stranger”. Matrix management is also believed to be one of the causes of role overload, or the employee’s inability to understand the number and extent of expectations, set by the employer (Griffin, 2005).
Such a situation occurs very often if the workers have to move from one task to another. Again, these limitations are not associated with the national or cultural context, more likely they are universal. Judging from this discussion, we can argue that the matrix structure will not be fully applicable to the needs of this organization, especially, if we are speaking about the Turkish manufacturing facility. So, this discussion indicates that the traditional or “home country” organizational and people management systems may not yield the results, expected by the management.
Recommendations to the human resource manager
Overall, it is possible to make several recommendations to Helen Reeves. First, she should pay special attention to the recruitment and retention of employees. It seems that the HR managers should give preference to those employees, who have relevant experience of working in Western countries, like Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, or France. Those applicants, who have studied in these countries, may also be of great avail to Vancouver Communications. The key purpose of such recruitment policies is to find those candidates, who are ready to work under ever-changing conditions.
They must be able to take initiative and be more independent of their superiors. Otherwise, there is very little likelihood that Vancouver Communications will achieve its strategic objective, namely to reduce production costs and increase output. Moreover, appropriate recruitment strategies may enable the company to decreases the costs of personnel training. Another important point is to hire those managers who have already been employed by Eastern organizations. The thing is that these people know how to deal with the problems, faced by these companies. It should be taken into account that Canadian expatriates for this job, even despite their expertise in the field.
It is also advisable to provide Turkish employees with an opportunity to undergo training in Canadian or English branches of Vancouver Communications so that they could better understand the requirements and standards, set by the management. Special attention should be given to on-the-job training. Its major objective of this training will be to teach Turkish employees to work in an environment that is not familiar to them, in particular in a matrix organization.
The critical issue is that these people must know how the management expects them to behave. They must be encouraged to express their ideas and views and not be afraid of making suggestions if they are necessary. The authority should not be regarded as something impeccable and unquestionable. Apart from that, they should become less dependent on the managerial instructions; they should be urged to participate in brainstorming and discussions, aimed at improving the manufacturing process.
The allocation of workplace duties and responsibilities may also produce a very strong effect on the performance of this manufacturing facility. Previously, we have pointed out that the employees of Vancouver Communications are used to moving from one team to another, depending on the production needs of the company. Under the circumstances, the main task of Helen Reeves is to make sure that these teams are not re-organized too frequently because such continuous rotation of the personnel does not promote teamwork and better workplace relationships.
One should not forget that Eastern organizations are relationship-oriented, which means that employees want to know who is going to work on the project and who will be the manager. Only after that, they evaluate the feasibility of the project and outline its major stages (Adler & Gundersen, 2008, p 47). If the teams are constantly broken and re-assembled, the employees will not be able to understand the strengths as well as weaknesses of one another and build closer relations with one another. This recommendation can be implemented not only in the Turkish subsidiary but also in Canadian and English branches.
It is possible for us to argue that companies, operating across national borders, have to conduct extensive research of organizational policies, adopted by various companies. Unwillingness to consider these cultural and national peculiarities of HRM policies leads to poor decision-making within the company and unsatisfactory performance of the employees.
The problems of expatriates in Turkey
The survey, carried out by the management of Vancouver Communications, shows that many of its Canadian employees, who have worked abroad and now returned to their home country, are dissatisfied with their current position and the company’s attitude toward them. Their discontent can be explained by several reasons. One of them is the wage or income gap, existing between Canada-based employees and former and current expatriates.
This problem is even further aggravated by the fact that these people do similar jobs but do not receive equal compensation for it. So, it is quite natural that expatriates resent such managerial policies. Additionally, this disparity also impacts some of their Canadian workers who do not feel comfortable knowing that their colleagues do not earn equal wages with them. It should be taken into consideration that the cost of living in the United Kingdom is slightly lower than in Canada, therefore when an expatriate returns to his/her home country, the purchasing power of this person declines. In order to address these concerns of the employees, the management of this enterprise should reevaluate their remuneration strategies.
They should take into account such factors as taxation policies in Canada and in England (or any other host country), the cost of living, transportation, and housing expenses, exchange rates, the cost of Medicare, and so forth (Dowling et al, 2008). The thing is that people may actually receive the same amount of reimbursement, for example, $ 10. 000, however, due to the differences existing between the home and host countries the purchasing power of these people may not be the same.
The reward package, given to VC employees, must ensure that these people are in an equal economic position; otherwise, they may think that the policies of the management are unfair. Again, we should emphasize the fact that this wage gap can lead to a great number of problems, namely, poor teamwork, unwillingness to participate in decision-making, and most importantly, high turnover in the organization.
The most dangerous thing is that these people may start to search for a different position, and the company may lose their invaluable expertise. This is why the management should raise the salary of these people. Nonetheless, this is not the only difficulty, faced by expatriate employees; the management must not presume that only a pay raise will make them feel satisfied.
Lack of orientation programs
Another concern, expressed by the expatriate employees is their inability to adapt themselves to the new organizational setting. Such a situation is very widespread among those people who have recently returned from England. The thing is that over these years a great number of departments have been restructured and many of the project teams have been broken up. Thus, the former expatriates have to continuously ask questions about the changes within VC, even despite the fact they have worked in this company for many years.
Actually, these transformations should not be taken as a surprise because they occur in every organization, especially if we are speaking about a long period of time. However, to solve this problem the management should launch an orientation program for former expatriates (Thomas, 2003, p 326). They must be briefed about the new performance standards, technologies, mergers of departments or divisions, new organizational policies, and so forth. The thing is that a person, who is not aware of all these issues, cannot perform to his/her full capacity as he/she has to spend too much time on minor details.
This orientation program may last for a weak at most but it will spare much effort of the personnel. The importance of this strategy cannot be underestimated because many people feel very frustrated when they have to struggle with new software and with office equipment, or when they have to accommodate to new IT security standards. The key problem is that they feel as though they were unimportant to the company. Apart from that, some people, who tend to be shy, are unwilling to plague their colleagues with questions and try to cope with these issues on their own. As a result, their performance greatly deteriorates, and they can hardly be blamed for this. Therefore, a short-term orientation program can be a very effective solution to this issue.
Inability to share one’s experience
The results of this survey also indicate that former expatriates cannot share their European experience with their co-workers. In fact, they allege that no one seems to be interested in it, and this is certainly very frustrating for them. They think that they can put forward some interesting ideas and suggestions which can really improve the performance of Vancouver Communications. For this reason, the management may find it useful to conduct an opinion poll among these people, for instance, about the methods of improving the company’s operational performance. They may be also asked to describe the differences existing between Canadian and English branched of VC.
On the basis of this survey, the management will be able to single the best practices. These people must feel that their previous experience has not been disregarded and that the management really counts on them. It may also be prudent to form workgroups, consisting of former expatriates. In such a way these employees will be better able to analyze their European experience and propose solutions to already existing problems of the organization. So, we can say that this strategy will be equally beneficial for the company and for the expatriate employees.
The reverse culture shock
When speaking about the needs of these people, we should also mention such a phenomenon as reverse culture shock, which means that a person cannot fully adjust oneself to his/her native culture and country (Storti, 2001, p 53). The returnees may think that their own country has been greatly changed over these years; in part, this can be explained by the fact that they have been abroad for a very long time. Secondly, they can compare home unfavorably to abroad (Storti, 2001, p 53).
These people as well as their families often feel rather uncomfortable after their return to Canada. Moreover, the survey that has been recently conducted suggests that the company should be more supportive of them. In the majority of cases, the effects of reverse culture shock weaken after five or six months, but at the beginning, the expatriate worker can underperform.
The company can assist these people in several ways, especially during the orientation program. First, the management should set shorter working hours for them at least during the first two weeks after their return. The thing is that a person, who moves from one-time zone to another, usually feels very tired because his/her biorhythm has been changed. Due to this physical and mental exhaustion as well as attention deficit, they cannot do their duties properly. The shorter working hours are also necessary because the expatriates need more time to understand the changes in the social, cultural, and technological environment of the country.
Additionally, the company may find it useful to brief these people about the changes in legislature and taxation policies, pursued by the state. One should not bear in mind that people, who cannot easily adjust themselves to bureaucratic details, especially if they are unaware of them. This is the reason why the management of VC should hire a legal consultant who would help the expatriates and their families to settle in their home country. This strategy will allow them to enhance these people’s loyalty to Vancouver Communications because they will think that the company genuinely cares about their needs.
Overall, the recommendations that we have made will not force the company to incur great expenses. The complaints which have been voiced by former expatriates have been caused by the lack of attention from the management. One should not suppose that they are concerned only with the amount of monetary, paid to them; more likely, they think that the management of Vancouver communication no longer needs them. As has been noted before, at this stage the effects of reverse culture shock are still very palpable. Yet, the main problem is that the management took no virtual effort to help these people.
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