A senior manager was interviewed with the aim of highlighting various aspects of the organization. First, the background of the manager and the leadership style he employs together with its effectiveness were examined. Further, his responsibilities, which include planning, organizing, leading and controlling, as well as the management of staff in terms of motivation and performance appraisal were discussed. Finally, some details about the organization itself were considered, with the main focus on organizational structure and design, the mission statement and the organizational response to stress and management.
Ron Hoffman is the senior managing director at Giorgio Foods Inc. He joined the company in 2012. According to his position, he is responsible for controlling and overseeing the work and resources of the organization. He prepares a business plan and annual business plan, and monitors progress against them ensuring that the company achieves its objectives efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. He also represents the company in negotiations with customers, suppliers, government departments and other key stakeholders to secure the most competitive contract terms for the company. He attended Booth School of Business. Hoffman started in career with Percer Management Consulting before joining insurance broker Narsh in 1995 where he played various senior management roles.
Planning typically involves determining a company’s future position, especially objectives, mission goals and vision. The manager participates in setting various performance targets for the company including establishing strategies and activities of achieving the set goals. He is also involved in identifying resources, both human and financial. This implies finding talented employees and meeting various financiers. Planning was done during monthly meetings; however, the search for talents is a continuous process.
In organizing, the manager usually identifies activities to be carried out and groups them. He may constitute divisions or departments depending on the clustered activities. Organizational structures were created with authority figures placed to control the arrangement if need arises. He usually fulfils the organizing functions together with the planning in the scheduled monthly meetings. Most of the organizational issues were delegated to the assistant directors who are more aware of the needs of the various departments.
The controlling function involves comparing the actual performance with the plans usually discussed on weekly meetings with the departmental heads. It is achieved by establishing standards and measuring performance against these standards. The main work the senior manager performs here is identifying the variations and stimulating an action of the people that can correct them. This is accomplished during the weekly meetings with the responsible parties in order to align the plans to get results.
The manager gives directions to the human resources under his leadership role. It involves communication with subordinates, guidance and motivation. He tries to be a role model to his staff while introducing innovative ideas to solve various problems as they arise. Under his leadership role, the manager needs to take other roles such as interpersonal role where he is the figurehead and liaison with other organizations. The manager bears the informative responsibility that involves monitoring of data, and dissemination of information. In addition, he is the spokesperson of the organization in terms of policies and lobbying. He is also the negotiator among investors and shareholders. As a senior manager, Hoffman also approves budget and deals with negative action of competitors. He spends most of his time leading.
The organization uses two kinds of performance appraisal. The informal appraisal implies the participation of the supervisors and the staff under their jurisdiction. It is done on a daily basis as a form of discussion, with no records of the evaluation kept. The other methods include formal methods, mainly the 360-degree feedback and the rating scale method.
360-degree feedback was implemented on a yearly basis where managers, co-workers, customers and direct reports are used to evaluate an employee. It involves getting anonymous feedback from the various participants. The recipients gain insight on perception of their work and behaviour, which enables them to make adjustments where weakness is perceived.
The rating scale was accomplished on a quarterly basis. It involves employers evaluating employee performance on a myriad of areas such as teamwork, communication skills, reliability and efficiency.
The manager feels that the rating scale is more objective in measuring an employee’s performance as it encompasses different aspects of the employee’s work. However, Ron Hoffman admits that it may be limited by occasional bias and halo effect in some cases. To him, the 360-degree feedback is particularly useful in evaluating an employee’s character and competencies such as goal setting and listening. However, it is an expensive and time consuming method. It also implies the risk of creating mistrust among co-workers.
In my opinion, the two methods of evaluation are effective if used together. The informal method implies the risk of making the employees lax. It also entails the challenge of gross bias since there is no set standard of evaluation. Strengthening the numerical rating scale method to capture more aspects of the employee’s production can help counteract the bias. 360 feedback can be practical, and mistrust can be checked by establishing clear communication in its usage. It should not be used to evaluate strictly objective things such as attendance.
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Organizational Design and Structure
The top level management involves four assistant directors and one managing director. The four assistant directors are the Human Resources Director, the Chief Financial Officer, the Marketing director and the operations manager. All the assistant directors report to the managing director.
It is a functional structure, with the four main departments being finance, human resource, marketing and operations, and production departments. Employees with shared skills and knowledge are grouped together thereby promoting efficiency. The four main divisions house further smaller “sub-departments” for example, the IT department is housed under the operations and production department.
It is a simple functional structure approach with well‐defined channels of communication and responsibility/authority dependency. This structure can improve productivity by minimizing duplication of resources, mainly personnel and equipment. It also makes employees comfortable, and training is altogether simplified. Staffers have an opportunity to move up their departments giving them reason to stay long term.
However, the structure may have downsides related to decisions and communications that are slow because of the layers of hierarchy with centralized authority. It can result in narrowed perspectives due to the distinctiveness of different departmental workgroups. The various assistant directors may experience difficulties in their relations, which will ensue in reduced cooperation and communication. The result may be a failure in anticipating and reacting to changing consumer needs. This structure also results in specialization, with the directors getting experience in their field only. The departments may focus solely on their objectives, which in the short term, will boost production but in the long term, will distort the aims of the company as a whole. The growth of the organization has resulted in some challenges as some of the functional areas have become difficult to manage due to its size, particularly the split of the departments and creation of a new one.
The senior management created the mission statement with input from the supervisors in the various departments. A business consultancy firm was brought in to assist in the effort. The board of trustees was also instrumental in the creation of the mission statement.
It was created in a span of one year as they had to find the mission statement that reflects the company’s core purpose and values.
The strength of the declaration is that it serves as a filter to separate what is important from what is not thereby providing direction that is essential in planning and decision making. It also communicates a sense of intended goal and purpose to the entire organization, which may serve to motivate the workers. In addition, it helps to focus the employees’ attention on the stated goal.
However, the intended clientele is not identified in the statement. All the major entrances and the reception areas have the display of the mission statement. The vehicles belonging to the company have a summarized version of the statement in form of stickers.
Essentially, it is to be reviewed and revised every ten years. However, unique circumstances and restructuring process necessitated the revision of the previous statement before the expiration of the ten years period. The functional structure is limiting as it gives managers experience in only one field.
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The principal style of leadership that is mainly used by the manager is the democratic or participative kind that implies giving orders after consultation with various stakeholders. In this model, the final decision is made by the leader, with input from the staff. The participative style serves well as it enables the manager to explain the long term plans and how to reach them on the different levels. He is also able to participate in group activities and consensus building. In this case, consensus building will help with the motivation of workers as they appreciate the weight of their input in the decision making process in the company. It has given the chance for enhancing creativity among staff as they introduce creative solutions to problems.
Occasionally, the manager tries the free reign kind of leadership, especially when he has delegated responsibilities to his subordinates. It is done with minimal oversight and only steps in when required.
The participative style is effective, especially with reduction of opposition to the orders and decided plan of action since resistance is dealt with early. The staff also owns the decisions made. It translates to a sense of responsibility among the staff.
Incentive compensation programs are the principal motivation tool used by the company. At all levels of the institution, employees have a chance to benefit when institution’s profits raise, which boosts motivation. The company also takes an honest interest in employees’ career progression through mentoring, instructing, sponsoring additional training or coursework. These can be helpful to employees, especially considering that management cares about their careers.
Listening is another way of motivating the employees with established mechanisms in place to enable the workers reach the management. Minding of employees’ input for job improvement, their problems, concerns, frustrations and conflicts has been found to be helpful in creating loyalty and boosting production.
Job appraisals and promotions are also done to motivate production, with high producing workers being rewarded. However, the job advancement is not only linked to the production but will also be attached to the job qualifications.
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A recently commissioned survey found most of the employees to be happy and motivated. There has also been steady reduction in the loss of staff to other companies. It is an indicator that the motivational strategies are working.
The company has also recently started training their managers and supervisors against the demotivation of workers as a way of keeping the motivation high among the employees. The training involves temper management classes that imply teaching managers how to share credit and give full credit where required. In addition, managers were taught how not to abuse their powers, for example, being chronically late for meetings, ignoring the suggestions of their workers, among others.
The company places high emphasis on innovation, with various measures such as annual innovation competitions placed to that end. Supervisors and managers are allowed to take some allowable risk in the performance of their functions. However, risk is discouraged in particular quotas, especially with machinery operation and safety issues. Precision and attention to detail are encouraged. Various steps of production are thereby followed by quality assurance checks.
The company is achievement oriented but discourages “the end justifies the means” kind of approach. Welfare of the workers is emphasized, with representatives chosen from them to seat in various committees such as the health and safety committee. Dignity and respect are encouraged and enforced taking care to balance gender differences and the varied roles.
Teamwork was cultivated with annual team building activities such as sports, seminars, among others where the veil between the management and co-workers is dropped. It has gone a long way in growing the good relationship enjoyed by workers of different tiers of employment. Competition is encouraged but with care taken not to breed mistrust and animosity among co-workers. Nonetheless, the competitive edge is cultivated through sports and innovation competitions.
Rules were enforced, with warnings sent out to the relevant parties before any disciplinary actions were taken. Arrival on time was stringently enforced. Disciplinary committees were constituted as seen fit.
The dress code depends on the designated place of work, with the management required to dress officially. The workers are expected to be in safety wear as per the safety regulations. Casual wear is allowed for all staff including the supervisors.
The company promotes its attitude and values among the employees through seminars, sponsoring employee initiated value driven activities and the inclusion of the workers in the implementation of those values.
With changes being inevitable, the company deals with them through open communication and involving the workforce in handling the change. The changes are also adopted in stages where possible. Employees affected by the changes are handled at different levels though this has been a challenge for the company.
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Management of Organizational Change and Stress
Different approaches both inside and outside the organization are used to manage work related stress that may be triggered by changes. In the institution, measures such as management and communication are taken to clarify the workplace’s objectives and the role of individual employees. Adequate management support for persons and teams together with matching responsibility to the different talents and abilities of workers is provided. Massive work has been accomplished towards the improvement of work organization, working conditions and environment. Managers and workforce, have also been trained to raise awareness and understanding of stress, its possible causes and how to deal with it, as well as how to adapt to change.
External organizational measures mainly involve a company contracted psychiatrist who consults the workers on demand. All the staff members are now required to attend new mandatory psychiatric evaluation.
The principal model that they implement is the action research method, which involves diagnosis, analysis, feedback, action and evaluation. The change process is instituted based on the data findings. It is a problem focused model that heavily involves employee input thereby reducing resistance to change.
The interview was a success. The objectives that were set were achieved regardless the slight difficulties in some areas. The meeting also highlighted the areas of weakness, with recommendations made to that effect.
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