Case Analysis: Elektra Products, Inc. Problem/Issue Analysis: This case details the change in the Elektra Products, Inc. company into an employee involved and empowered organization. It discusses how Martin Griffin and the rest of the department heads deal with the implementation of the empowerment campaign. Primarily, majority of the company employees upon hearing of the plan have shown disinterest and skepticism to the idea. The negative response towards Griffin’s speech supports such and is due to everyone’s low morale, loss of trust towards the company and bad communication from the system.
However, the central issue in this case is why the task of assigning problem-solving teams within the company employees, specifically the team of Barbara Russell, to come up with ideas for empowerment failed to be effective for the organization. The strong objection of the department heads proves the weak arguments they have presented. In addition, the abrupt exit of Martin Griffin halfway through the team presentations was a factor as to why the objections were strongly placed upon Russell’s team.
Generally, the ideas that the team of Barbara Russell presented lacked refinement since many factors involved were not taken into consideration. This case aims to provide a successful plan of action towards involvement and empowerment of the company employees and to establish a harmonious relationship with one another in the process. Analysis/Evaluation of Alternative Actions: The stakeholders in this case are: Management or department heads – they are the people who have vested interest in profit thereby restructuring the company into an empowered and involved community to successfully address the cruel situations the company is facing.
Martin Griffin spearheaded the task of implementation assigning several teams to come up with ideas. Barbara Russell being the manufacturing head were one of the teams. Company employees – they are the workers distributed into various departments with specific tasks assigned to them by the management. At the end of the case, Barbara can either abandon their proposals, give in to the strong objections of the departmend heads and instead, allow them to plan the changes or push for reforms and allow the creation of a learning organization.
The first alternative continues to develop an organized system for empowerment across the departments having a systematic way of information dissemination. The authority that arises from the first alternative will not bring any opposition thus allowing changes to happen smoothly in result bring success to empowerment goals. However, the retention of a hierarchical organization can be a mishap in establishing harmonious relationships amongst the organization because the power is still concentrated within the top management.
The second alternative is more democratic as compared to the first. The creation of a learning organization would mean a collaboration and communication within the people in the company. This can enhance relationships promoting trust and harmony within the company. In this way, company employees and the management display a more honest system making the entire organization transparent to issues it is facing, good or bad, and involving everyone in identifying and solving the problems. However, the loss of hierarchy can make the top management feel inferior.
Also, a heavy burden is placed upon them because irresponsible handling of democracy upon company employees can lead to failure and a chaotic scene. For a company struggling to be empowered, the most feasible and effective alternative would be the second alternative which is to create a more learning organization. The ability of both parties, management and company employees, to be involved and share on their expertise is a good learning process making problem-solving easier for the company. Managers encourage a team-based, democratic and communicating organization.
The issues of Russell’s proposals can be collaborated with fellow employees for further refinement of ideas. To implement the chosen alternative, top management, specifically Martin Griffin, should first apologize for his behavior during the meeting. Griffin had the task of implementing empowerment and it was a reckless move on his part to abruptly leave the meeting when his employees are finally sharing their ideas for success. Also, his absence weighed heavily upon Russell’s team for without his opinions and enthusiastic response to the ideas, they were bombarded with negative feedback.
Apologizing also makes the employees feel more important and more empowered to do better work. After which, Griffin can begin to consult with managers and employees about how to implement change. Employees get the opportunity to address their needs and the best way to bring change to it. The expertise that the different departments can provide to fellow departments can refine and concretize the needs and issues each department has and at the same time keep everyone involved and empowered.
This process when implemented correctly can bring about a modern management that can successfully turn Elektra Products, Inc. into a more trusting, honest and hopeful organization. Conclusions/Recommendations According to the book, New Era of Management (Chapter 1, pg. 17-35), managing is more of facilitating employees or resources. It is delegating the tasks in an effective and efficient manner into different units to attain organizational goals. However, in delegating, managers should remember to maintain a communicative, harmonious relationship with its members.
There should be leadership within the manager but at the same time, employees should never be left mute in identifying and problem solving. Even employees have expertise that managers do not posses and therefore, will be beneficial for the managers to establish a successful collaboration with one another. Definitely, both employees and managers become empowered by their work at the same time build good relationships. If there is transparency and honesty within the two parties, loyalty will follow.
Company employees remaining faithful to their work is a good sign of successful empowerment and good management. Case Study: Elektra Products, Inc. The Case: Problem: Once leading manufacturer/retailer of electrical products/supplies has declining market share, low employee morale, inter-departmental communication gaps (sales and manufacturing not talking), slow innovation (i. e. new products few and far between) One of the solutions: employee empowerment but with a buy-in problem from the department heads during the proposal by B. Russel. Important characters in the case:
Barbara Russel (VP for manufacturing; team leader manufacturing team) – working on ideas to improve how retail stores got the merchandise they needed it by: * Manager follow a product from design through sales to customers * Allow salespeople to refund up to $500 worth of merchandise on the spot * Make information available to salespeople about future products * Swap Sales and manufacturing personnel for short periods for job awareness Martin Griffin (New CEO) – excused himself during presentation Department heads – had concerns with Russel’s proposal. Some Employees – not buying the idea
Case Discussion 1. How might top management have done a better job changing Elektra Products into a new kind of organization? What might they do now to get the empowerment process back on track? The role of the top management in employee empowerment or in any change management is to exhibit commitment to the change, provide leadership which involves influencing employees to excellence, molding and creating shared culture and values, communicating the goals to all employees (Daft, 2010) and lastly to facilitate the change through honest, sincere and open communication with all employees.
The top management’s all-out support shown through Griffin’s commitment to the program should have been visible and credible had he carved time for the meeting and attended it until the end. Since he is new, he needs to earn the trust of his employees first before “rocking the boat”, which the case slightly referred to (Simon: “… downsizing… , reengineering… , re-structuring, … then empowerment … ”). Resistance of employee might actually stem from the “trust” issue. Due to prior downsizing / re-structuring, employees most probably have heightened insecurity. Just get out of our way”, Simon said. Ego is speaking here. This must also be addressed very delicately. How to get back on the track and implement empowerment: Develop a support mechanism for the project: * Feedbacking system * Establish policy for feedbacking including criteria for evaluating suggestions, how to handle poor suggestions, implementing suggestions * Promote the feedbacking system * As necessary and practicable, introduce technology to facilitate feedbacking * Evaluate the system and improve Ensure inter-department involvement and buy-in and full employees participation * Involve department heads and other representatives during brainstorming * Encourage new employees * Manage reluctant employees – investigate the reason for reluctance, ensure these are addressed * Reward employees – should be fair and rationalized 2. Can you think of ways Barbara could have avoided the problems her team faced in the meeting with department heads? She should have involved department heads in the brainstorming before coming up with the proposal to take into account their inputs on how the proposal will affect other departments (HR, Finance, Legal, etc. ). * She already had an idea that there will be resistance from some employees and no buy-in from them as she heard “grumblings” during the project kick-off. She should have already gathered information on the basis of these “grumblings”. 3. If you were Barbara Russell, what would you do now? Why? Talk to the CEO.
Set expectations, be honest about the employee response to the project. Ask for commitment (i. e. time, resources). This is the only that any project could move forward. Ask for a core team that would involve representatives from each core department. Apologize for not considering them in the first place and admit that it was a mistake. Say that the management is sincere about empowering its employees and as such, you can start again from beginning. Be humble and say that the proposal is a draft and will be a starting point of discussion. Inputs from each representative will be gathered.