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Discuss about the Analysis of Sunflower Company for Employee Productivity.

The purpose of this case report is to give suggestions to the CEO of Sunflower Food Company on how to set a team-based culture which can improve morale and motivation of employees and ultimately drive productivity. Sunflower is a medium sized manufacturing factory which produces a wide range of bakery related items which are sold in large supermarkets all over the country. Currently, the company employees approximately 95 employees whereby 65 of them are full-time employees and the rest are hired on contract. There are also eight employees working for the company who are promoted from the frontline although most of them lack leadership qualities. For the last few months, it has been observed that employee productivity has been going down and this has raised a lot of concern from the management of the company. After carefully monitoring the organizations internal and external environment, it was determined that the internal culture, low staff morale and motivation were the causes of the low productivity. Typically, there are various factors which affect business operations and they are categorized into internal and external factors (Manley 2008, p.193).

 Internal factors are things that exist within an organization and they disrupt the operations of a business directly. Some of these internal factors include and not limited to, organization culture, finances, employee motivation, and morale. On the other hand, external factors are those that exist outside an organization and in most cases, they are uncontrollable. They include competitors, suppliers, political practices, and technology. However, for the purpose of this case of Sunflower Company, this report will focus on internal factors. After evaluating three key issues affecting this company, that is internal culture, motivation, and motivations, recommendations are made on how the company can motivate employees by providing good leadership and team-based culture. It was recommended that adopting a team-based culture for the organization will be a potential strategy for motivation and employee morale. Some of the concepts used to analyze the case are, Lewin’s Force Field Analysis Model, change of culture, change in leadership style, CEO as a change agent, motivational theories, and team-based culture.

Sunflower is a company that has 95 employees and sometimes, it becomes challenging to divide labor of a task into subdivision to facilitate coordination and specialization to achieve an overall task. According to Burnes and Bargal (2017), managing people is an enjoyable and hard task at the same time. To achieve common goals, mainly requires the leaders to manage relationships through communication and coordination strategies. At Sunflower, the level of communication between the employees, supervisors, and the top management is poor. Lack of communication is one of the factors that have contributed to low morale among the employees because they do not get a platform to share their experiences and their needs. Typically, the process of organizing a company involves designing structures and designing processes. Some of the commonly used structural designs used in organizations include, hierarchy, departments, decision making, and information systems. On the other hand, design processes are, communication, strategies, selection & training, and objectives (Giapponi 2015, p.236). It was observed that the key coordinating mechanisms commonly used in organizations are;

Structure

Informal communication is the ability share information on mutual tasks. It includes adapting to any person who must perform a task and controlling how a task is performed to allow for flexibility. Some of the commonly used subtypes of informal communication are direct communication, temporary teams, integrator and liaison roles.it was observed that this mechanism can be introduced at Sunflower so that employees can get to communicate with their supervisors freely without fear (Ashforth2009, p. 34).

The formal hierarchy which is also known as direct supervision is the process of allocating legal power to people who can use it to allocate resources and assign duties to workers. The essence of adopting this strategy at Sunflower is that employees will know who their bosses are and they will know who to communicate and report to (Kivlighan & Miles 2007, p. 217).  

To standardize is to schedule tasks such that there are routine patterns of an output for the purpose of reducing formal and informal communication while performing a given task. This will ensure collaboration among the employees of Sunflower Company.

Chain of command which corresponds to direct supervision is the coordination of duties from the top organization levels to the lowest level within a hierarchical business structure. Normally, instructions come from the highest level of management and passed down to the subordinate staff using formal communication. This kind of chain is authoritative and commanding and those who are assigned a specific task are expected to do as is expected of them (Van & Schalle 2008, p. 116).  As the CEO of Sunflower Company, it is of the essence to understand that a chain of organization helps employees to know who their boss is and actually, that is what a chain of command is all about. When employees encounter problems with some issues, they know to whom they can go to get solutions. Additionally, it is crucial to understand three concepts that are included in a chain of command namely authority, responsibility, and unity of command (Dierendonck & Groen 2011, p. 71).

There are 8 supervisors (promoted from the frontline with limited leadership experience).

  • Possible limitations with leadership

It was noted that supervisors promoted from the frontline in the company have limited leadership experience. Leaders are supposed to be people who can give those they lead directions and lead by example. After evaluating the leadership systems, observations were made that there are some possible factors that must have contributed to poor leadership by supervisors. These factors are discussed as follows.

  • Lack of communication    

Supervisors' Leadership Skills

Failure by supervisors to communicate with employees is one of the apparent reasons why employees at the factory have low morale and motivation. As a leader, a supervisor is expected to communicate with those employees that he/she is supervising so they can be able to relate to each other. Being a leader means listening to employees and not cutting them short when they are talking. A good leader also cares about the employees' opinions. Lack of communication between employees and their employees may fail to pass along new communication about company procedures which consequently affect how staff performs their duties (Sandhu et al. 2017, 234).

  • Unclear expectations

Another issue that is killing staff motivation and morale at Sunflower is the failure to make clear what is expected of them frustrating them and hindering them from performing complex tasks.  Failing to tell employees when a project is due or moving up due date kills staff morale because they feel that they have a right to work with clear deadlines. Giving employees vague instructions about a task also gives them a hard time figuring out what is considered important by the supervisors.

  • Intimidation

The other issue that prevents employees from giving their best to the company is intimidation from the supervisors. Due to lack of leadership qualities, supervisors harass and bully employees, often threatening to fire them if work is not done to satisfaction. Employees work in fear and most of the time, they feel stressed and working in such a negative environment decreases employees morale hence reducing their performance and efficiency (Sandhu et al. 2017, 239).

  • Poor people skills

As mentioned earlier, the supervisors are promoted on the frontline and they do not have leadership skills. The issue here is that leaders without leadership qualities cannot motivate employees because they lack the experience to share with the staff. Most of the time, these supervisors share the negativities of the company or a project instead of focusing on the positive side of a problem or a situation. Supervisors do not respond to suggestions or complain effectively from employees because they lack views of their own to relate with. They play favorites with staff choosing their favorite and give them special treatment. This contributes to low employee morale because it can lead to conflicts where those who are not treated right may feel that there are those who are being favored than the rest (Aeron & Pathak 2012, p. 16.

  • Loss of motivation

Recommendation

Through analyses of leadership practices by the company, staff revealed that poor leadership is what led to low morale and motivation among the staff.  Poor leadership by Sunflower supervisors make employees be less committed to their work since they lack something to motivate them to come up with new ideas that will benefit the company.

  • Low company performance

Low staff motivation and morale have translated to low productivity. It is crucial to acknowledge that having employees who are not motivated working for the company will not only affect their personal performance but also the overall profitability of the organization in the long run (Sandhu et al. 2017, 243).

  • Lack of transparency and ownership

Most of the supervisors at Sunflower lack the ability to instill the value of ownership to the employees. Some of them also lack transparency to their employees which makes them poor leaders. According to Lee (2013) employees are most likely to act on the traits of their leader. If supervisors are unable to take responsibility for their failure and mistakes, then definitely, the staff is likely to do the same thing.

  • Mismanagement of resources

If supervisors are irresponsible, it means that other trends of the company are likely to be affected and not only the human resource department. Time, finances, and other resources are wasted due to poor leadership by the supervisors (Aeron & Pathak 2012, p.29).

  • Negative workplace environment

Working in a negative environment that does not make employees happy kills their morale and motivation. Having a section of employees who have low morale can spread to others who may be feeling inspired. With time if nothing is done, this will spread to the whole organization leading to low productivity and loss to the organization (Ogunleye 2011, p.104).

Organization culture can be defined as a system which defines how people behave in an organization. It can also be defined as the environment in which people work. The internal culture varies from one organization to another as it defines how people should relate to coworkers and the management, dress code, and how they are expected to act in different situations. Company culture is crucial because it motivates and boosts staff morale because they are most likely to enjoy in a workplace where their values and needs fit with their place of work. There are three main types of organization culture namely people culture, network culture, and rule culture and each one of them is unique in its own way(Mehta & Mehta 2017, p. 226).

In most organization, the task of managing people is the most difficult task and most certainly, the most important. At Sunflower, it seems that the company has problems with understanding what exactly employees need so that they can improve their productivity. To help the CEO understand why employees are not performing, the following causes of low staff morale were given. 

  • Wasted potential

Most certainly low staff morale would result from wasted talent. Hiring people who are overqualified or who have different skills to perform a particular task may frustrate or bore them. In this case, instead of focusing on delivering, they focus more on leaving an organization to look for a company where they will work where they fit. So, the CEO must find appropriate positions for employees to avoid such problems in future (Sevincer, Kluge and Oettingen 2013, p. 44).

  • Poor employee treatment

The main cause of morale issues in organizations. This arises where managers and supervisors do not respect employees because they think that an employee is so lucky to have that particular job (Sevincer, Kluge and Oettingen 2013, p. 36).

  • Closed communication

Often, poor or lack of communication between managers and employees result in morale issues. Failure to communicate to employees about company’s operations makes them to feel isolated thus resulting in rumors.

  • Unreasonable workload

Requiring employees to work for long periods so that they can keep up with unreasonable workload can result to resentment and burnout (Van and Sun 2011, p. 62). 

  • Failure to recognize hard work

Naturally, people feel good when they do something good and someone recognizes their good work and appreciates it. Appreciating employees gives them a sense of accomplishment and they feel proud of their work thus making them work harder to achieve more.

  • Unclear and misunderstood expectations

Nothing frustrates employees than working on something that they do not clearly understand about. When employees lack directions about a task, they perform poorly as they feel that they are just wasting their time (Taggar &Ellis 2007, p. 291).

  • Ill-defined development plan

As employees join an organization, they expect that their roles and responsibilities will change with time. Therefore, the CEO has a duty to have clear development plans stating what employees will be expected to do in future.

  • Changing goals

Employees are likely to be bored and frustrated if goals keep changing from time to time even before what they were working on is completed. This makes them feel that what they were working on previously is useless and they just water their time (Van and Sun 2011, p. 53).

  • Lack of trust on employees

Employees wish to work in an environment where they are free to make inquiries without receiving negative repercussions and where anything they do is being questioned.

  • High turn-over rates

If an organization is experiencing high turnovers, it would put stress on the whole organization whereby the remaining employees will have to pick up the slack. This will make the remaining employees lose confidence with their jobs (Van and Sun 2011, p. 74).

Motivation issues

  • Poor communication

Communication is a factor that cuts across all issues in an organization. Where communication lacks in an organization, most probably there are going to be many problems. Employees would wish to get any information concerning the organization regardless of how bad or bad it is (Rudolph 2016, p. 74).

  • Unfair use of policies

This arises where there is unfair treatment of employees in administering policies.

  • Lack of discipline and accountability

Although this is one of the most difficult issues to change as employees are expected to follow rules, effective performance appraisal can help solve this problem (Rudolph 2016, p. 89).

  • Poor hiring practices

 Ensure that job description is well stated when hiring new employees to avoid hiring wrong people for right jobs.

  • Lack of training

Training employees and supervisors so that they can acquire skills to perform their duties effectively and responsibly.is crucial.

The factors that contribute to low motivation are many and those discussed above are some of them. In relation to Sunflower, these factors will assist the CEO change leadership of supervisors and improvise new ways that will motivate the employees (Rudolph 2016, p. 157).

Kurt Lewin change model involves three main steps namely unfreezing, movement, and refreezing. Unfreezing means overcoming inertia and dismantling the current mindset. Movement is a stage of change and transition, and refreezing which is the last step is for reinforcing and stabilizing.

Change is anyone who has the ability and knowledge to facilitate change efforts in others. Leaders can become change agents by developing change visions, communicate with employees, be committed, and act consistently with a vision (Burnes and Bargal 2017, p. 101).

Dr. Belbin defined team roles as a tendency to contribute and relate to others in a given way. After studying team-work for many years, he identified nine team roles that determine the success of a team. According to the observation that Belbin made after observing people in groups for many years, people tend to assume roles depending on their strengths and weaknesses (Kivlighan & Miles 2007, p. 129).

An organization that adopts a team-based structure is likely to achieve more with ease because. Working as a team is beneficial not only to the employees but to the whole organizations. Working as a team has both benefits and challenges to an organization (Kuwabara, Hildebrand and Zou 2015, p. 121).

Advantages and disadvantages of group decision making

Advantages

  • Collective understanding as people contribute their ideas and suggestions
  • Increased legitimacy because groups are perceived to make fair decisions
  • Increased synergy whereby group members feel a sense of self-accomplishment once a solution is found

Disadvantages

  • Few people who are the minority can dominate groups
  • Group decision making is time-consuming because it includes many people who need to consult before reaching a final decision
  • Decision-making process is slow compared to when decision making involves one person

Goals setting theory states that goals should be specific, must be accepted, and but be difficult but attainable. The advantage of setting goals is that it motivates employees thus increasing their productivity.

This is a motivational theory that explains the innate force to acquire, bond, learn, and defend. It includes emotions and rationality.

This theory states that the effort to perform a certain task corresponds to the people’s behavior to believe that they will achieve the desired outcomes. In other words, people are expected to achieve a goal with the highest outcome (Lee 2013, p. 91).

Equity sensitivity theory states that people respond differently when rewarded in various ways to try and bring back their equity ratio into balance (Lee 2013, p. 165).

In order to strengthen and change the culture of Sunflower Company, the CEO must attract and select people who will are willing to embrace the cultural values. The CEO should also understand two things that will assist in motivating the employees. First, accept that the problem exists and then look for ways of improving the situation. Secondly, recognize employees and make them feel appreciated and they will feel that they are part of the team and not outsiders.

  • Increase communication between the employees and the leaders in the organization
  • Give employees an opportunity to grow and advance their career
  • Recognize and appreciate employees’ efforts
  • Set clear expectations
  • Treat all employees equally and fairly
  • Provide a clear employee development plan 

Conclusion

After analyzing the key issues about employee motivation, it is clear that motivation directly affects the success of an organization. There are three main internal factors that determine the overall performance of an organization and they are company culture, employee motivation, and morale. These factors determine the productivity of staff and also the performance of a business. Therefore, to motivate employees, the manager of Sunflower Company must review the company culture and the leadership methods.

References

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