FROM: Scott Hebert
SUBJECT: Changing Corporate Culture
In our recent conversation, you described several problems that you have recognized in your organization. In order to create a plan for change, it is necessary to first properly identify the problems. The problems you have described can be divided into two main categories: production and employee morale. Due to high demand, the production lines have been running non-stop for the past several months. Unfortunately, you have identified a growing concern among production superintendents that the quality of the company’s product is not satisfactory. To make matters worse, the plant manager has recently indicated that due to high sales growth, the production goals of this plan will have to increase by 50 percent for the next 6 months.
There are many facets to the employee morale problem. First, you have noticed that employee absenteeism is on the rise. As George and Jones point out, absenteeism is a problem that surfaces when employees are under stress. That stress can be a symptom of the existing work environment or a result of recent change (George & Jones, 2008). Since your company has not imposed any changes, the absenteeism must be a result of the current environment. Similarly, the increase in turnover that you have noticed is a symptom of the same problem. Finally, absenteeism and turnover are extreme cases of the poor employee motivation that you have noticed. Together, these four problems — low quality, impossible production schedules, absenteeism, and turnover — represent the major concerns that your company must address.
It is likely that these four problems stem from an organizational culture that has focused solely on productivity and forgotten that production line machine require a human element in order to function properly. Addressing these problems will require a change in the organization’s culture before the individual problems can be addressed. As Pascaris, Shields, and Wolf (2008) illustrate, discussions of change are not enough to affect it; eventually, the old culture begins to reemerge. In order to successfully implement a plan for organizational culture change, the human resources department at your company must secure leadership buy-in and employee participation in the change process (Pascaris, Shields, & Wolf, 2008).
Leadership buy-in and employee participation are really two sides of the same coin. The goal of the human resource department is to get all parties affected by the change involved and committed to the process. When organizational leaders establish clear guidelines for change, the lend credence to the project. Participation in the change process ensures that employees understand their stake in a successful outcome. Even with active employee participation, the possibility of cognitive dissonance is high. It is the role of organizational leaders to recognize this dissonance and provide guidance during the organization’s transition (Pascaris, Shields, & Wolf, 2008).
It is obvious that the employee morale problem is a symptom of the hectic work schedule the current productivity level requires. Your company cannot afford to let production slip, so the human resource department must address employee morale without negatively impacting production. All people are motivated intrinsically and extrinsically, although most people tend to prefer one form of motivation to another (Clegg, Kornberger, & Pitsis, 2008). In order to increase employee morale across the board, both kinds of motivation must be implemented. The increased production forecast over the next six months makes extrinsic motivation very easy. The increased production is going to require some portion of the work force to work overtime. Those employees that tend toward extrinsic motivation will be happy with the additional income offered by overtime pay.
Intrinsic motivation is often best implemented by supervisors working directly with employees. A study performed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources found that two-thirds of respondents wanted to feel appreciated in their jobs. Verbal praise and recognition can be delivered both publicly and privately to great affect. Additional forms of intrinsic motivation including challenging work assignments and schedule flexibility. Together, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation should help improve employee morale (Dessler, 2008).
Quality control is generally considered to be an operations issue. The key to improving product quality is “monitoring and measuring processes and making any necessary adjustments” (Collier & Evans, 2008, p. 289). It is likely that your company could improve quality by introducing metrics into the various production processes and looking for aberrations. Human resources can help increase product quality by improving employee morale through the use of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
As you can see, employee morale is really the linchpin of the problems at your company. By addressing these issues with a change management project supported by both the organizational leadership and employees at large, your company can decrease the rates of absenteeism and turnover while improve product quality and production. Organizations have a tendency to focus on the mechanical means of production such as machines and supply chains. Without a productive work force of well-motivated employees, these mechanical means of production are useless.
Clegg, S., Kornberger, M., & Pitsis, T. (2008). Managing and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.
Collier, D. A., & Evans, J. R. (2009). OM 2008 edition. Mason, OH: South-Western.
Dessler, G. (2008). Human resource management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
George, J. M., & Jones, G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Pascaris, A., Shields, L., & Wolf, J. (2008). The Work and Recovery Project: Changing Organizational Culture and Practice in New York City Outpatient Services. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 32(1), 47-54. Retrieved June 18, 2009, doi:10.2975/32.1.2008.47.54