Founded in the year of 1995, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, popularly referred to as the Inquirer, managed to establish itself as one of the most recognized newspapers, operating in the Philippines. The company’s dedication to report the most authentic news, to the public, instead of shaping and distorting the political discourse, had helped it becomes the most widely read broadsheet newspaper in the entire country. However, with the growth and expansion of the organization, the employees became more detached, and differences cropped up amongst the former and new employees. Most importantly, as the editor, Letty started embracing the Micromanagement style of leadership, things got even worse. The style is more is about control, and while having control as a manager is essential, using it as a permanent management strategy is bound to fail, as it has happened in the case of Inquirer. As the newspaper publishing company started encountering cut-throat competition from the online news sites, the survival of the organization became questionable. Hence, the report intends to critically analyse the problem/s infesting the organization and offer suitable recommendations for the same.
Apparently, the problem that the Inquirer is encountering at present time, is that it is encountering huge competition from the online news media, which provides fast and accurate news to anybody and everybody, at free of cost, provided the reader enjoys access to internet. While the profitability of print journalism is at stake, Inquirer does move to online news media as well, though with little prospect in future. The very reason why the organization is able to compete successfully, is that it is infested with various organizational problems, identified below:
- The first problem identified, is the inability of the leaders of the organization to combat the problem, by actively engaging themselves with the subordinates, and trying to find a comprehensive solution.
- Secondly, as hinted above, the organizational culture of the company is also a chief problem. As new employees started coming in, differences started cropping up amongst the existent and the new employees.
- Aversion of Change of the company impedes its ability to adapt to the new world of technology and innovation.
- The micromanagement style of leadership as adopted by the Editor is highly erroneous.
Root Causes of Symptoms:
- Lack of Employee Engagement: While there exists a sense of complacency amongst some, others are confused about which platform (print or new media) to invest on. The employees are not coming up, collaborating with each other, and trying to solve the problem. The lack of team-spirit amongst its members has dampened the organizational culture, and impeded the growth of plans.
- Poor Organizational Culture:. The old ones refused to discuss the problem with the juniors, and even though the new employees were adequately competent, they were being kept away from managerial decisions. In absence of a positive, collaborative workplace culture, the senior employees refused to work with greater dedication (Alvesson and Sveningsson 2015).
- Aversion of Change: Change is an essentially important aspect that facilitates organizational progress of any company. Any organization that needs to sustain itself for a longer time, must adapt to change and innovate itself. However, change must come with effective communication of the plan to the relevant stakeholders (Hayes 2014). In case of Inquiry, as observed here, the problem is, although the company did move to an online platform, it failed to engage its journalist and editors in understanding what the next big leap they should take is. Ineffective interpersonal communication within the organization is thus the next hurdle here.
- Wrong Leadership Style: The micromanagement style of leadership as adopted by the Editor is highly erroneous, as it prevents the engagement of the employees in the management decision, and thus they stay de-motivated and less productive (Ertureten et al. 2013).
Now, once the problems are identified, each problem has to be analysed in the light of the organizational theory.
Organizational Culture Theory of Goodall:
The organizational culture of a company determines the commitment of the employees towards the organization and job satisfaction. As per Goodall, the organizational theory relies heavily on a sense of shared meaning amongst the employees of the company, who are like the shared members of the society. While the leaders of the organization should act as mentors, guiding and supervising the work of the subordinates, the subordinates should never be denied rights to engage actively in the managerial decision-making process (Alvesson 2016). However, the problem with Inquirer has been that the company follows a hierarchical organizational culture. The presence of a highly structured and formalized work environment certainly prevents the possibility of efficiency-based coordination amongst the employees (Hogan and Coote 2014). While Letty, the Editor, despite being highly efficient, is indecisive and unpunctual herself, she does not invite and ask for the ideas of the equally competent junior journalists, who might offer innovative strategies that can help the company thrive.
Lewin’s Change Management Model and Resistance to Organizational Change within Inquirer:
Although Inquirer has moved to the online new media channel as well, the company is unable to decide which platform to invest in, and resistance to change is a major problem here. Lewin’s Change Mangement Model states that three specific steps must be followed while implementing a change- Unfreeze, Change and Refreeze (Shirey 2013). The first stage states that the management authority, before implementing a change, must essentially communicate the purpose, scope, cause and benefits of the change to its stakeholders. Since Inquirer management authority failed to communicate the need for change to its employees, it was unable to break the status quo. It is important to explain to the employees why is it important to change and how it can bring in profit (Longo 2013). In absence of proper communication, the senior journalists also exhibited reluctance to work for longer hours. Lewin’s model states it is only after an organization unfreezes the problem, it can implement the change (change phase) and get things finally back to normalcy as before (refreeze phase).
Micromanagement Leadership Style: A Wrong Approach in Inquirer:
Micromanagement leadership style is an organizational style which relies on exercising proper control on the employees. Although exercising control on the employees is highly important, transferring all power from the employees is certainly equivalent to taking away accountability from the employees. In case of Inquiry, this leadership style failed to be a failure, as it failed to involve the attention of some of the most competent employees in its decision-making process, while the leader Letty herself is not very responsible in the first place. Despite all the skill and professional expertise she possesses, it is undeniable that by reviewing and approving each employee activity, she is slowing the output of the department leaving a queue of work undone (Boykins et al. 2013). She has vision, but no execution as far as the shift to new media platform is concerned, and the absence of employee engagement in the implementation of management decisions worsens the situation (Hazen 2015).
Centralized Organizational Structure:
Owing to the centralized organizational structure of the company, the management authority relies on the senior managers only, to provide direction to the company. Lack of initiative to engage the younger employees not only de-motivates them, but also prevents the organization implement an effective strategy, that in a changing business scenario (Ashkenas et al. 2015). Due to the hierarchical structure, even if the junior employees are competent enough to recommend innovative strategies, they are discouraged to do so. While decentralized organizations can struggle with multiple individuals having diverse opinions on a particular business decision, the centralized structure weakens the decision-making procedure (Guadalupe et al. 2013).
First of all, it is recommended that Inquirer gives up its hierarchical organizational culture, and instead embraces the clan culture. Consequently, the senior managers can always supervise the performance and activities of the subordinates and act as mentors, the employees will also be allowed to participate to enjoy freedom to recommend actions and undertake individual initiative. In order to switch to the new culture, which in itself being a change, will be subject to employee resistance, the company will need to communicate the benefits of the new culture. Greater autonomy at workplace, faster decision-making process, and less pressure on the senior leaders can be cited as the common benefits of the new culture, and this should be communicated to the employees via discussions and interactive sessions organized over a period of 3 weeks. In course of the discussion sessions, it is important to mention how the new organizational culture will help the company align its culture with its strategic priorities. Next, the leadership style and the organizational structure need to be changed as well. The organization needs to embrace the Transformational Leadership style, as it will allow active participation and increased engagement of the employees in the decision-making process of the organization. The hierarchical structure has to be transformed into a flexible organizational structure. Further, the employees, especially the senior employees should be asked to participate in seminars and a conference, discussing the importance of working collaboratively, as shared work is both convenient as well as effective way of accomplishing goals. During the initial phase, some of the employees may exhibit reluctance to work collaboratively, and at this stage, the company should organize interactive activities, such as team outings, family gatherings that can improve the bond and employee interrelation within the organization.
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