SMART Corporation’s original structure
SMART Corporation is one of the leading public transport companies in Singapore. The firm has registered massive success over the past decade through its unique management strategies. The structural frame is one of the four distinctive lenses from which a person can view a firm based on some concepts. The structural framework of this film follows some of the traditional frames that were very popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. The figure below shows the leadership structure at this firm.
The structure shows a leadership style, as suggested in management science that emphasizes on having bright patterns when it comes to issuing instructions and sharing important messages. At the firm, employees have to observe clear rules when it comes to communicating with their superiors. Unless under supernormal circumstances, every employee is expected to pass information to the immediate supervisor even if the message is meant for the top manager. Instructions are also issued from the senior managers down to the junior-most employees. The relationship amongst the stakeholders is very formal. It is not easy to find the top managers mingling freely with the junior employees. To the management of this firm, this strategy is meant to promote professionalism and respect among all the stakeholders. Roles at the firm are also specialized.
The finance works strictly with a team of accounting and finance professionals, and so does the marketing director. In many cases, these two departments find it necessary to share information that can help in making departmental decisions. The structural frame at this firm demands that such information can only be shared after the authorization of the departmental heads. Directors are the only entities empowered to request and receive information from the other departments under official circumstances. Sometimes the junior supervisors may flout this rule without facing any consequences, but it remains the official position at the firm. The management emphasizes issues such as responsibilities, practices, procedures, and policies. As Daft (2004) says, in such structures, people must stick to their assigned roles. Focus is more on the task than it is on the outcomes.
Proposed Change of Structure
According to the recent financial reports issued by the management of SMART Corporation, it is clear that the performance of this firm is impressive. However, this impressive performance may not last long if it continues to use the current structural frame. The management should make several changes that will enhance its ability to manage the emerging trends in the market. The first change should be in the communication structure that is currently in use. Jones (2007) describes such communication structures presently in use at SMART Corporation as rigid and undesirable. Such arrangements were very successful in previous centuries. In modern society, it is illogical to demand that communication must pass through a specific channel, even if it is meant for the top managers. The bureaucracy should be eliminated, and the junior employees should be empowered to the extent that they can visit the top managers and share with them their ideas as long as this can make a difference. The fear that the junior employees will be flocking the offices of the top managers is unfounded.
Jones (2007) says that it is not often that a junior employee may have something important to share with the directors. This happens only once in a while. In such cases, restrictions should be eliminated. The management should also embrace consultations when making decisions. The current approach where decisions are made by the top managers without any input of the junior employees should be brought to an end. The senior managers should know that the junior clerks, drivers, and cashiers are always in touch with the customers almost daily. They, therefore, understand their needs and expectations. Their experience may be significant for managers when making management policies. The management should not be too formal. Embracing a semi-formal management system would be beneficial. Finally, it is also proposed that the focus of the top leaders should not overemphasize the means. Both the ways and the outcome are very important and should be given equal attention.
Analysis of the complexity of the structure
The current structure, which is in use at SMART Corporation, is complex and may not last for a long time. The complexity comes in its highly formalized management system, where everything follows the laid procedures. This is dangerous for a society and an industry where new things keep arising from time to time. Cases will often occur where employees at various ranks are stranded because they are faced with a new phenomenon that is not addressed by the existing structures. The current structure limits the creativity and innovativeness of the employees in solving their tasks because they only have a specific way that is acceptable by the authorities. The composition may also make the employees feel that they are like machines that have to follow programmed instructions at all times.
How activities are coordinated
Currently, the coordination mechanism in use at SMART Corporation is a centralized one. The power is centralized around the top leaders of the firm. Whenever a decision is to be made, it has to get the approval of the senior managers, even in cases of emergency. The senior manager, after consultation with the directors of various departments, will issue an instruction that trickles down to the junior employees to define their tasks. The supervisors and mid-managers act as the link between the junior employees and top managers. Any complaint that the junior managers may have or suggestions on changes necessary at the firm must be passed through the supervisors to the mid-managers before they can be communicated to the top management. In that chain, the officers involved are at liberty to modify the message before passing it to the next authority or even discard it if it is considered inappropriate or unnecessary. Bolman and Deal (2013) observe that in such systems, it is almost impossible for a message to reach the intended audience in its original form.
Analysis of the organization through the symbolic lens
A critical review of SMART Corporation reveals that the firm has made an effort to create a positive image not only among its employees but also its external stakeholders. It has created shared values, as evident in its mission and vision statements. It appreciates that success can only be achieved if there is a concerted effort by all the stakeholders to work together. The reports also understand the role played by the employees in bringing out the success of the firm. One of the most critical factors that come out in the analysis of the firm through a symbolic lens is its organizational culture. The firm has developed a unique culture that promotes universal respect for all irrespective of one’s religion, race, religious practices, or any other social demographics. The firm believes in heroism, as witnessed in its annual awards to the people who demonstrate acts of bravery or unique commitment to their assignments.
The organization’s most potent symbols
The image of accountability is the firm’s most accountable symbol. Since its inception, the firm has always made an effort to give a picture of a highly responsible firm that is keen on transparency in all that it does. The image of accountability seems to represent the commitment of the firm to be responsible to the government and the people of Singapore, given that it is a publicly-traded firm. To achieve this image, the firm has been publishing its books of accounts regularly. The strategy is meant to convince the public that their resources are spent on their benefits. The symbol seems to be working for the firm. It has gained positive emotions from the public, and this explains why the firm has remained unbeaten in its current operations.
Where impression management occurs within the organization
An analysis of the firm reveals that there is evidence of impression management as a way of keeping a positive image before the public. The industry in which this firm operates is competitive, and the picture means a lot when it comes to gaining an edge over other market rivals. The competitive nature of the market explains why the marketing department is under pressure to improve its operational strategies. The impression management at the firm occurs at the top management level about its external stakeholders. As stated above, SMART Corporation has been keen to maintain regular communication with the public through mass and social media.
Most of the connection to the public and government comes from the top managers of the firm. It is a fact that the junior employees are also trained to respond to various issues concerning the firm. However, the senior managers are fully responsible for maintaining the positive image of the firm. This is evident in its corporate social responsibilities. The top managers are always at the forefront when it comes to public engagement and communication at such forums. As Robbins and Barnwell (2002) note, this hands-on management approach is meant to give the image that the top managers at this firm are aware and concerned with the issues affecting all the stakeholders at this firm.
Based on the analysis conducted, this firm should observe the following recommendations:
- The structural frame at this firm should be restructured to increase the participation of the junior employees in decision-making processes
- The symbolic structure should be modified to make the employees feel appreciated by allowing them to play a central role in promoting the image of the firm to the external stakeholders.
- The human resource frame may be redefined to create a close relationship between the top managers and junior employees by embracing a semi-formal communication system.
- The political frame should focus more on the decentralization of power.
List of References
Bolman, L & Deal, T 2013, Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Daft, R 2004, Organization Theory and Design, Thomson/South-Western, Boston.
Jones, G 2007, Organisational theory, design, and change, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River.
Robbins, S & Barnwell, N 2002, Organization Theory: Concepts and Cases, Prentice-Hall, French Forest.