The organizational structure provides the basic framework of an organization and is particularly crucial in ensuring that an organization achieves its objectives effectively. It serves as the link and co-ordinates individuals and groups collectively within the scaffold of their responsibilities, authority and control. According to DeCannio, Dibble and Amir-Atefi (2000) organization structure is the cornerstone of the organization and the success and effectiveness of the organization is largely dependent on it. The organizational structure of John’s company is not justified for its size. The structure is negatively affecting the effectiveness of the company and hampering the implementation of its purpose, goals and strategies. Moreover, as Stone (2010) notes, it is resulting in problems in the communication process, which is affecting the motivation of the employees.
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The organizational structure of John’s company creates a high level of specialization, which makes the employees form a narrow perspective of the company and sometimes tend to lose sight of the overall goals and mission. For example, Ted, the manager of the workshop who is responsible all employees in the workshop is also solely responsible for quoting. Often, he does not quote the jobs on time, which affects the performance of other departments. Matt and Dave are frustrated because they cannot plan appropriately when quoting is delayed, and sometimes the junior employees may not be having work to do. The organizational structure of John’s company is making satisfactory performance difficult, despite having outstanding individual managers. John acknowledges that although he has a number of dedicated and motivated managers, they are always failing to meet their targets.
John’s company organizational structure is also not justified because its size is creating communication problems and hampering interaction between different groups. Swenson-Lepper (2005) explains that a good organization structure should have an elaborate communication channels and network so that all tasks that are to be performed are clearly co-ordinated and effectively pre-planned. In this case, structural contingencies in the organization have an impact on the communication processes and authority. For instance, there is a lack of communication between the three workshop managers and supervisors, which results in frustration among the staff. In addition, the junior employees in the workshop do not know who exactly is in charge of them. They have an immediate supervisor – Ted, but often, other managers – Matt and Dave were also giving them instructions. Since the instructions of these managers may be different, it can result in role conflicts within the company and affect employee motivation, commitment and productivity.
The organizational structure is also not justified because it has resulted in role ambiguity. Role ambiguity occurs when the roles are not defined accurately (Vanita, 2003). The business coach hired by John notes that even after speaking with Craig, the manager in charge of labor hire, she was still uncertain of exactly what roles he was performing. His assistant, Louise does all the administration for the labor hire team and actual filling of positions. She was under Craig, but it is clear that there is a massive imbalance of workloads. When the position holder fails to perform the duties in accordance with their understanding of the role, role conflict arises. Research findings reveal that role ambiguity is positively linked to anxiety and inclination to quit and negatively associated with factors such as employee loyalty, work commitment and job satisfaction (Puffer and Kanter, 2004). Messer and White (2006) add that role ambiguity and conflict may result in employee burnout, lower employee commitment and motivation, resulting in high employee turnover and reduced project implementation.
How John Can Improve Communication between Workshop Staff
Effective business communication is a tactical tool for enhancing the performance of an enterprise. Barry and Crant (2000) document that proper internal communication enables organizations to get extra benefits from their business investments, and improve the performance of the company and employee morale. Communication can be classified as vertical or lateral (horizontal). Examples of vertical communication in John’s company would be between the workshop supervisors and the boilermakers and apprentices, Craig and Louise, or John, the owner and general manager, and various line managers such as workshop hire and labor hire. Vertical communication can be further divided into downward and upward directions depending on the flows of the message. Lateral/horizontal communication occurs among members of the workgroups, among members of the workgroups at the same hierarchy, or among any other horizontally equivalent employees (Patrick, 2012). Examples of lateral communication in John’s company would be communication among the boilermakers, between workshop boilermakers and offsite boilermakers, and between workshop supervisor (Matt) and offsite supervisor (Dave). Regardless of the communication system or type, Swenson-Leper (2005) explains that communication involves giving and exchange of information and instructions, which enable the company to operate effectively and its employees to be appropriately informed about events. Patrick (2012) acquiesces by adding that good communications improves organizational performance, management and decision-making processes, boosts employee performance and commitment, engenders good management-employee relations and increases job satisfaction.
In John’s company, there is a lack of communication, but there are ways in which this can be improved. One way of improving communication would be building stronger bridges between individuals both within departments and across departmental lines. This can be done through teamwork and task-based involvement. For example, the two supervisors Matt and Dave can work more closely with Ted, on the quoting process since it is core to the daily planning and functioning of the company. When they work as a team, the supervisors will be able to plan the schedules of the employees effectively. Through this mechanism of small workgroup of supervisors and the workshop hire, there will be an increase of the stock of ideas within the company and it will improve co-operation relations. This will eliminate scenarios such as where Dave takes the employees out of the workshop to work on jobs off-site thinking that they do not have any work to perform in the workshop. It will also reduce Ted’s frustrations as he organizes daily work in the workshop. According to Rostron (2009), task-based involvement encourages employees to extend the range and variety of tasks they undertake at work. It is an innovative design of employee involvement and helps shift the focus on the whole job rather than concentrating on a relatively small part of an employee’s time. For example, Matt and Dave who are young and ambitious would help Ted who despite working hard and putting in long hours in the quoting activity, his results are not showing much productivity.
Effective organizational communication provides the right information to the appropriate individual at the appropriate time and in the right form. Employee involvement practices would help raise awareness among the employees especially the three workshop managers and supervisors. To ensure effective communication John can initiate practices such as job redesign, job enrichment, team working and job enlargement. Davis and Shannon (2011) highlight the differences between the three. Job enrichment involves expanding the scope of responsibilities in the work tasks. Job enlargement entails increasing and diversifying the number and tasks performed by individual employees, thereby increasing their work experience and skill. Team working serves as a vehicle for greater task flexibility and cooperation as well as for extending the desire for quality improvement.
John can also improve communication through adoption of technology. Modern communication technology such as e-mails, text messages, real time video conferencing and the internet would significantly improve communication within and outside the organization. There are also commercial enterprise applications and networking software that John’s company can employ to improve the performance of various business activities and increase dissemination of instruction among the employees. He should ensure that all employees can effectively utilize the capabilities offered by communication technologies. Business intelligence tools support the managers to analyze performance periodically, highlight areas for improvement and monitor the results of operation strategies. Jelinek (2007) explicates that they help improve communication between departments, since every employee can access the same data from a central system, and reports as well as instructions are easily generated tailored to the business needs.
Communication in John’s company can also be improved by ensuring that appropriate communication channels are used, and communication is co-ordinated to reduce diagonal or crosswise communication. In diagonal communication, instructions flow between employees at different hierarchies of the company and have no direct reporting connections with one another (Vanita, 2003). For example, the workshop workers get instructions from their immediate supervisors as well as supervisors of other departments (diagonal communication). This leaves them confused and frustrated since these instructions are sometimes conflicting. Diagonal or crosswise communication is usually crested with difficulties. According to Stewart et al. (2005), the major problem with this form of communication is that it digresses from the usual chain of authority. John can improve this by ensuring there is minimal diagonal communication, and if necessary, it is coordinated so that all supervisors are aware of the instructions given. The organization should encompass a vertical communication to supervisors or subordinates who may have been bypassed. For instance, they can be copied in an email used for diagonal communication. In addition, employees should be informed of the formal and informal organizational structure so that each employee knows his/her position, scope and supervisor.
Areas of John’s Company Which Are Overstaffed
One of the areas of John’s company that is apparently overstaffed is the labor hire. The role of the manager labor hire, currently held by Craig, is unnecessary because as the business coach finds out, all its functions are performed by Louise, the assistant manager labor hire. The business coach further notes that even after speaking with Craig several times, she did not understand the roles he was implied to be doing (Stone, 2010). The labor hire department is responsible for ensuring that John’s company supplies the right tradespeople to the mines, developing the overall business and helping manage its growth. Louise, the assistant manager labor hire, performs all the administration work for the department, and the actual filling of positions. The position of Craig should be scrapped. This will bring efficiencies to the company such as cost reduction in salaries, increase company efficiency and performance and reduce role conflicts and ambiguity.
John also needs to restructure the organization structure to allow Ted have more time to do the quoting and so, improve efficiency in the daily planning and running of the company. Some of his responsibilities should be reassigned to the other two workshop supervisors. This will improve efficiency by ensuring the core activity of quoting is done on time. This will also reduce redundancy and improve the processes of operations. An organizational structure envisaging the chain of command would be as follows:
Fig: An organizational chart of John’s company
Benefits of Employing an External Coach
External coaches are particularly beneficial for companies that lack the resources to support their own internal coaching programs. Sue-Chan and Latham (2004) document that external coaches typically have backgrounds that include education and experience in business and organization development as well as organizational coaching. Being external to the organization can be beneficial to the coach and the client by offering the real or perceived sense of safety. External coaches are useful for a company because they improve the existing culture of the company. This is particularly veritable if the company is making a shift from a rigid and highly structured culture to a more entrepreneurial fast-adapting organization, and the client has come up through the ranks of outdated culture.
External coaches increase the company’s ability to leverage its time and resources. Stewart et al. (2005) argues that to stay ahead of fast changing technologies, lower customer and employee loyalty, and information overload, the coach works with the client to increase, radically, his or her ability to manage time and resources effectively. Hawkins (2012) adds that external coaches also help develop interpersonal skills of the client. The way the client comes across is critical to client success now and in the future. Business communications require effective and exquisite formal and informal communications. The client works with the coach to change behaviors and communication such that customers, staff, and investors trust, respect, and want to follow.
External coaches provide a safe and secure avenue for employees to vent. Pent up frustrations, anger, and disappointments undermine sound judgment. According to Rostron (2009), the coach is the safest, least expensive, most accessible and consequence-free person to whom the employees can vent. For example, in John’s company, employees and supervisors vent up their frustrations with various issues in the organization. External coaches help the company gain an outsider’s objective viewpoint. The coach has no stake in the result of the situations. While self-interest is normal, there is little objectivity. The coach’s first priority is the company’s interests. In this regard, external coaches clarify, expand and articulate the company’s vision. The company can depend on the coach to be an expert in communication concepts, goals and visions. Using that expertise, the client develops and articulates a vision that means something important to everyone in the organization. Puffer and Kanter (2004) add that external coaches help foster discussion of new ideas. The ideas of supervisors and others, ideas that are just in the inkling stage, build the long-term success of organizations. An open discussion of ideas and innovation requires time and space in the client or supervisor’s schedule. An external coach is an exceptional listener and provides a safe place for ideas to take shape and develop.
Sue-Chan and Latham (2004) explains that external coaches help point out what the client cannot, will not or does not see. Every smart professional understands that he or she has blind spots. While an individual or a group of employees might be authorized to speak frankly, there is often a concern that the messenger will be shot. External coaches are better placed to fulfill the ethical obligation of pointing out what they see to their clients. Another benefit of external coaches is that they help employees find an effective way to reduce stress, improve efficiency, and yet live a decent life. Puffer & Kanter (2004) and Naoum (2001) agree that, in the contemporary business world, leadership requires a clear thinking person who is in touch with the many parts of life, not just the part about running the company. Clients and their families want a meaningful and full life. External coaches work with clients to develop balanced and sustainable personal and professional lives.
Secord (2003) suggests that external coaches are more beneficial than internal coaches when a coach with a wide range of business experience is needed or when someone is needed with a lot of credibility to confront the supervisors in ways that others cannot. Hence, the benefits of using external coaches are that clients may feel there is a greater sense of confidentiality about their work. The coaches bring in their experience and expertise from other businesses, recognize the parallel trends, can confront supervisors on difficult to address issues, and are hopefully more trained to provide executive coaching services (Hawkins, 2012). Some clients perceive external coaches as more objective, trustworthy, experienced and trained (Rostron, 2009). Due to these factors, external business coaches may have an easier time conveying and confronting the core reality of a client (Barry and Crant, 2000)
Human Resource Contingency Plans for John’s Company
Contingency planning involves preparing possible responses to a variety of potential developments. Davis and Shannon (2011) argue that it shifts human resource planning from a reactive process undertaken to assist the organization achieve its aims to a proactive approach undertaken prior to the formulation of wider organizational objectives and strategies. The purpose of contingency planning in human resource is, therefore, the provision of information on which to center resolutions pertaining to the future directions the company takes (Jelinek, 2007). A contingency plan that seems necessary in John’s company is identifying and promptly addressing the real causes of communication problems. Since the process of quoting is especially critical to the company, a contingency plan needs to be developed in case Ted, the sole supervisor responsible for quoting quits. This can be done through engaging the other two workshop supervisors – Matt and Dave in the process of quoting so that they are able to perform the process in case Ted is not capable. Making the process of quoting a team activity will make sure that all the supervisors are fully informed and sufficiently competent to fulfill this task when necessary.
John’s company, like many other companies, has an organizational structure that is not justified for its size. Often it faces the problems of lack of communication and poor co-ordination among different departments. There is also the problem of resentment among workers, role conflicts and role ambiguity due to possible overstaffing. The hiring of an external business coach will help identify and address these challenges and develop contingency plans to ensure sustainability of the company’s business. This will help John take back some control, provide direction and ensure his employees are motivated and happy. This will ensure that the company achieves its objectives and targets.
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