The case dwells upon the change management, when a small college-town newspaper Blaze is going through the process of downsizing. The editor, Andrea Zuckerman has to deliver a final change and take control over the operational side of the change process, while the message delivery and initial stages of the process where handled by the external consultant, who, according to the editor, is complete stranger to the company. The reality is that the technology and the latest media trends make the business of Blaze a dying one and the company´s decision to downsize is, somewhat, expected by the employees. However, the gossip around the company tells that the situation will not only influence the employees that will leave the company, but will significantly change the profile of work of those who stay, bringing overtime work and pressure to their daily routine.
The role of Andrea in this situation is to take the company through change and ensure that the level of resistance among the staff is minimal, which would allow maintaining high performance culture and smother transformation process in general. Some of the major concerns of the editor include the change in organizational structure of the company. This will lead to a change in the job description for staffer, with unequal distribution of work. The challenge that Andrea is facing is the balance between the ethical decisions and the way to handle the communication and motivation strategies when it comes to the operations of the new organization.
When it comes to the analysis of the situation and the possible choices , which Andrea has in a given situation, one should understand the ways in which the communication process was handled prior being passed to the responsibility of the editor. The reality is that the decision, which the company took to give the change management to the hands of a stranger created more uncertainty and resistance in the team. It is the responsibility and the objective of Andrea to shed more light and clarity on the future and ensure that she received necessary buy-in from her staff (Sadler, 2003). With that in mind, one of the most important elements and dimensions, which should be considered during the communication process over the morning briefing, is the interpersonal justice, which places individuals to the top of the agenda and develops the feeling of bond between the employees and the company. By the time the morning meeting takes place, employees already have built their portion of anxiety and frustration due to the lack of information and poor communication. That said, it is critical that Andrea takes very open and transparent approach to communication, explaining the current and future steps in the change process and making herself available for further clarifications and questions. This approach will allow the editor to gain trust and restore the relationships, which were broken by the situation.
The situation demands a change in the communication strategy. If Andrea chose to be more guarded and restrict the information flow down the organizational hierarchy, it would result in poor ethics and more resistance from the employees that will stay with the company. As a consequence, the organization would experience significant drop in motivation and productivity of the staff (Dulphin and Reed, 2009). The fact is that employees see justice as coming from the source, such as the organization as a whole or their direct supervisor, which in this situation is represented by Andrea, with that in mind, the concept of fairness can be brought into through ethical treatment of employees and consideration of their right to know the future of the company (Hubbell and Chory-Assad, 2005).
When it comes to the motivation and retention of employees, one should recognize that the contemporary business environment no longer accepts the employment relationships, which built upon solely financial and monetary compensation. Candidates, looking for a job, consider a number of factors, which outline their interest and make the positions under consideration more attractive for them. Among these elements, surely, is the salary and bonus, which gives immediate satisfaction. But in order to build on long-term commitment and satisfaction of the employees, the company should offer intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivational tools. Given the fact that employee motivation is directly linked to the job performance and general organizational commitment, short-term financial remuneration will not be able to address the issues of performance in the company. It is evidenced that Andrea is facing the issue of equity distress, influenced by the lay-off of the employees. In order to restore this balance, she will require changing the inputs and outputs of her staff in a way that will be seen fair by the others (Fairholm, 2009).
Andrea has a choice to offer the employees “retention bonus”, which would require bigger compensation budget or focus on more multifaceted approach to employee retention and motivation. With that in mind, while it is important to offer competitive compensation package to the remaining employees, the raise in their compensation, even in the form of bonus should be performance-driven and not “retention-oriented”. It is recommended, therefore, that Andrea looks at the ways to increase the performance-based part of her staff salary in a long-term and links it to specific performance objectives. The ethical implication of the permanent raise option, outlined above will, first of all, be the perception of fairness and honesty in the treatment of the employees. Short-term solution may be seen as a ”bribe” for those employees, who stay and for their “artificial” commitment.
The case study illustrates that one of the challenges, which the editor will face is the organizational restructuring to meet the needs of the “new-faced” Blaze with more focus on online sources and its transformation into part of the bigger news instrument. Contemporary academic and business literature recognizes a wide range of motivational theories, which, among others include McClelland´s Acquired Needs Theory, Two Factor and the Equity Theory. These theories, are the ones that should be considered on the first place, when it comes to the analysis of Andrea´s actions as the editor in Blaze.
First of all, Andrea has to combine the five operational areas in two or three as demanded by the situation and the new organizational layout. This will impact the way individuals work and their social environment at the workplace. McClelland suggests that the motivation of individuals is based on the needs, which they acquire over their life. These needs include the need to belong, need to learn, accomplish and defend. Andrea will have to consider these needs in her employees when transforming the organizational structure. Additionally, some elements of work, such as responsibilities, which employees already possess and compensation that they are getting today should be seen as hygiene factors and should be maintained. In order to get he buy in and build on the high-performance culture in the given situation, Andrea, however, will need to use “motivators”, such as long-term compensation strategy in form of performance-related bonus and employee empowerment through higher level of responsibilities and decision-making authority. Finally, the Equity theory, as it was mentioned before includes the elements of comparison, which Andrea will have to handle when employees will assess and evaluate their job on the basis of comparison with other employees in the company. It is critical that a specific and accurate strategy is built in order to change the job descriptions and responsibility score of individuals without damaging their image of the company and workplace (Kotter, 2001). When new job descriptions are introduced along with transformational approach to management and more perceived authority and decision-making power, employees will see their new responsibilities as a reward and react on this with higher satisfaction potential (Mullins, 2008).
Voice and Input Delegation
The approach that the company should choose to handle the change management process and build on the “new normal” in Blaze is transformational leadership, where employees at all the levels of organizational hierarchy should develop a drive of comprehension and bond as well as acquisition of knowledge Nohria, Groysberg and Linda-Eling, 2008). This drive is built upon clarity and transparency of communication in the company, as only this vision of the employment relationships can allow building on corporate culture and developing standards of cognitive behaviors within a large group of people. It is recommended that Andrea develops specific strategy to make the voice of the employees heard. This can be done through face-to-face meetings as well as virtual environment created for the change process implementation, where employees can share their opinion and contribute towards building on the change.
It is evidenced that such approach, as much as any other, will result in pros and cons for the company. On the positive side, employee engagement will ensure less resistance and more preparedness of the change. Being part of the process will give them feel responsible for the transformation and build on their drive to acquire as well as bond. At the same time, voice and input levels, being high on low organizational levels may result in difficulty to implement the process as higher level of commitment and larger number of stakeholders will negatively affect the timeline of the implementation. Additionally, when the employees are given a chance to input to the process, the risk of conflict of interests and dissatisfaction of those, whose input is not used will become an issue. As such the balance between the “wants” and “have” should be accurately managed. To mitigate these risks, Andrea should ensure that the implementation process is done with ambassadors in each department and clear communication with regards to the strategy of decision-making. It is also critical that deadlines of each project milestone is communicated and followed thoroughly in order to minimize the impact of bureaucratic process, associated with building on employee´s participation and choice of the next steps.
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