Summary: Case Background and Essential Details
Kaufland GmbH has been experiencing significant problems with its performance over the past few years. Jess Westerly was assigned to explore the reasons for the organization to fail in the target market. According to the findings of her study, delays, and the lack of supervision over the communication processes between the managers have led to a drop in quality. Furthermore, it was discovered that the emphasis should be shifted toward cooperating with small and medium-sized organizations.
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Therefore, the promotion of more rigid control over quality and communication, as well as a significant change in the field consultants’ time management strategy, was offered, yet with little success, since the company members were very resistant to change. Westerly was given another chance to help the company improve its performance. The lack of proper understanding of how communication at Kauflauf GmbH worked made Westerly fail to deliver her ideas to the firm’s leaders. Therefore, a more coherent analysis of the internal issues at Kauflauf had to be carried out.
The paper will analyze the problems in Westerly’s approach toward changing the company’s performance management. The results will provide suggestions about how Westerly can improve her current strategy toward promoting change. By building stronger relationships with the company and understanding the intrinsic specifics of its operations, Westerly will be able to shape her suggestion in the way that will motivate the staff members to change the traditional behaviors and accept the ones that are currently viewed as profitable (i.e., cooperation with small and medium customers, time management improvements, etc.).
Identification of the Key Stakeholders: The Participants That Matter
In the case under analysis, several; stakeholders must be singled out. Managers should be listed as the first group of stakeholders that needs to be taken into account. Sensing the resistance among the staff members and not wanting to accept the risks, the managers are refusing from the strategy suggested by Westerly. Employees are the second group; although they might not be as visible as managers, they, nevertheless, define the success of the firm to a considerable extent.
The threat of disrupting their work routine and introducing challenges into their responsibilities are the key troublesome issues for the target participants. Fearing to fail to meet the new requirements and unwilling to sacrifice their comfort, the staff members are very resistant to change. Customers constitute the third group. They are concerned about the quality and demand that the services and products offered to them should meet the set standards. Since the change may disrupt the production processes for a certain amount of time, the quality issue may become a problem.
Jess Westerly as Assistant Product Owner: Causes of the Problem
Jess Westerly had trouble implementing changes to the company’s sales call patterns because she had a rather vague concept of how the organization operated. Particularly, how the relationships between the key stakeholders were structured was dismissed by her. While her quantitative analysis of the factors that affected the company’s operations was quite impressive, the analysis of the qualitative aspects of the company’s operations, particularly the paradigm of interactions between the staff members, could have been explored in greater depth. With “data and logic on her side” (Gabarro & Kaftan, 2012, p. 9), Westerly needed a more employee-oriented approach.
Short-term Problems and Solutions
Reconsideration of the approach toward the analysis of the case should be viewed as the key short-term goal for Westerly at present. Particularly, the framework of the company analysis must include the assessment of the relationships within the organization. The factors that contribute to the increase in the staff’s motivation levels will also have to be identified and classified accordingly. Thus, the premises for a more coherent approach toward enhancing the company’s performance can be developed.
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Long-term Problems and Solutions
Going into further detail, one should bring up the fact that Westerly overlooked the intrinsic factors affecting the employees’ motivation. Particularly, Westerly suggested changing the time management paradigm without analyzing why it was established in the first place: “Only 35% of the consultants’ time went to customers who produced 85% of revenues” (Gabarro & Kaftan, 2012, p. 7).
Furthermore, the relevant business suggestions, such as the shift of the corporation’s focus toward the cooperation with small- and medium-sized enterprises, are also worth appreciation as valuable and important pieces of advice. The overall framework that Westerly designed for Kauflauf works fine as an outline. It serves as a solid platform for the further improvement of the firm’s performance in the target market, even though, in practice, it misses the crucial element that is an in-depth understanding of what makes the company tick and on what principles the interactions between the staff members are built.
Suggestions: Criteria and Alternative Solutions
A positive change in staff’s behaviors should be considered the key success criteria. Furthermore, the efficacy of the strategy can be measured by an assessment of the staff’s motivation rates. Thus, progress can be measured.
The introduction of a new set of values and a different leadership strategy could be viewed as the foundation for altering the current communication approach used in the company. As a result, the basis for meeting the customers’ needs can be created. To be more specific, it is recommended that a heavier emphasis should be placed on the promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility (SCR). Furthermore, the use of laissez-faire and transformative leadership should be considered a possibility since they will help shape the staff’s behaviors efficiently.
Viewing the problem from the perspective of the Rational Choice Theory (RCT), one will conclude that the actions of the company members are quite understandable. The necessity to conform to the established standards stems from the willingness to choose the solutions that seem the most rational, i.e., the ones that lead to the maximization of the current utility (Sonnenberg, 2014). However, once the priorities set at meeting the personal needs as opposed to promoting corporate growth and professional development, the identified strategy turns out to be detrimental to the economic success of the firm (Barnes, 2014). Therefore, RCT will help shed light on why the company managers refuse to accept the seemingly logical solution provided by Westerly.
Recommended Solutions: Communication-Related Actions to Be Taken
Who and What: Managers and Corporate Standards
Claiming that Westerly cannot do anything for Kauflauf would be quite a stretch. What she needs is a better approach toward motivating the company members to change their traditional patterns of interacting and making decisions in the context of the organization. For instance, Westerly should consider communicating closely with the members of the company’s managerial team. Also, the opinions of other staff members will also have to be taken into account.
By exploring the specifics of the corporate culture, the values that it has set, the degree of autonomy that it has given its managers, etc., Westerly will be able to develop the communication approach that will allow getting her message across and develop the change management framework that will help the company members adjust to the new patterns of interacting with each other and making company-related choices. To promote its concept successfully, Westerly will have to find a balance between the necessity to control the quality of the performance and the need to provide the managers with enough responsibility.
In other words, “more structure and stricter controls” (Gabarro & Kaftan, 2012, p. 3) will have to be implemented. Thus, the time management issue must be preceded by the strategy that will help promote greater responsibility among the employees, enhance their motivation, and encourage them to make decisions based on the current needs of the company. Thus, the necessary changes will occur. The identified step is, however, only possible after a detailed assessment of the firm’s organizational culture, the relationships between its members, the values that its members view as foundational ones, etc.
Pros and Cons
The opportunity for a significant improvement of the firm’s performance, as well as an increase in the motivation levels among the staff members, can be viewed a the essential advantage of the chosen approach. Indeed, with a better understanding of how the organization works, Westerly will be able to convince the employees to change their current organizational behaviors and accept their responsibilities. Particularly, the time management issue will be addressed successfully. However, it will take time to plant the necessary ideas into the staff members’ minds so that they could accept the new performance standards. Herein lies the key disadvantage.
When and How: Immediate Use of Interviews and Surveys
With the above information in mind, it is strongly recommended that Westerly should place a very heavy emphasis on the significance of communicating with the representatives of the organization at all levels, from top managers to the executive department. Interviews and surveys must be conducted so that a clear depiction of the corporate relationships could be retrieved. Furthermore, the identified tools are bound to serve as the foundation for developing an idea about the specifics of the corporate hierarchy. Consequently, a more coherent approach toward meeting the needs of the company’s members as the changes are administered to the firm can be built.
It is also crucial to get the staff members’ and managers’ priorities straight. The drop in the levels of independence in decision-making and the shift toward a more rigid time management framework can be regarded as the primary factors that trigger an immediate drop in motivation levels among the staff. Therefore, it is imperative to introduce the corporate standards that will compel the employees to adopt the suggested behaviors. Particularly, the description of the increase in sales levels and the promises of the possible financial opportunities (e.g., rewards, incentives, etc.) that the target population may receive as a result should be considered a possible tool for enhancing the growth of the motivation rates among the staff (Topolosky, 2014).
Conclusion: Changing the Sales Call Patterns at Kauflauf GmbH
Administering changes in the context of a company that is represented in the target market well and has a long history and rigidly structured hierarchy is an extraordinarily challenging task. Because of the lack of focus on the intrinsic characteristics of the organization, Westerly failed to convince the managers to accept the suggested changes. However, by building a stronger bond with the company members and understanding how the relationships between them work, Westerly will be able to deliver her message in a convincing and efficient manner.
Barnes, B. (2014). The elements of social theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Gabarro, J. J., & Kaftan, C. (2012). Jess Westerly at Kauflauf GmbH. Harvard, MA: Harvard Business School.
Sonnenberg, B. (2014). Dependencies and mechanisms of unemployment and social involvement: Findings from the socio-economic panel study (SOEP). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.
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Topolosky, L. (2014). Linking employee satisfaction to business results. New York, NY: Routledge.