Team Management at Amazon

Amazon is one of the leading e-commerce companies delivering various types of products to customers all around the world. The company is famous for its use of the most recent technological advances at its warehouses, but manual work is still central to the current operations. The company is also characterized by the focus on specific standards and norms, doing the work at warehouses well-structured and organized.

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The staff in every warehouse is divided into supervised teams consisting of ten to twenty people (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). The warehouse under consideration employs 100 people (ten supervisors and 90 packers). In order to manage the operations in this facility effectively, it is necessary to apply the five management functions, including planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controls. This paper provides a brief review of the measures to be undertaken by a new manager at the Amazon facility mentioned above.

Planning

Planning is the primary stage of business management that defines the development of an organization. Planning implies “setting down a course of action” that will guide the development of principles, norms, and procedures (Leonard & Trusty, 2015, p. 10).

The establishment or change of organizational culture is one of the components of management to be addressed during this stage. As mentioned above, the work at Amazon is structured rather rigidly, and people perform particular tasks at certain workstations (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). The supervision is partly depersonalized as packers have barcodes, and their performance and movements can be traced with the help of ICT (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). Employees have daily meetings where supervisors set objectives and discuss some problems if necessary.

However, in many facilities, this kind of structure is often associated with employees’ job dissatisfaction and high turnover, which can have negative effects in the busiest periods. The company has an effective staffing policy that ensures proper operations by hiring seasonal and part-time workers (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). This approach is effective but not sufficient for the establishment of a strong organizational culture.

It has been universally acknowledged that people are the most valuable asset of any organization. Therefore, it is critical to make employees feel appreciated and valued, which will have a positive impact on their motivation and performance (Leonard & Trusty, 2015). In order to create a favorable atmosphere in the working place, daily meetings need to include team-building activities (Leonard & Trusty, 2015).

Due to time limits, these will be short activities, but they will involve all employees. Supervisors will become utilize transformational leadership skills to become mentors rather than impersonal supervisors. Supervisors should make sure that an employee performs the role they find the most comfortable for them. Nevertheless, but it is also necessary to ensure regular changes in operations as a person should not complete the same routine for a prolonged period. Overtime work will be awarded increased flexibility and more opportunities for development, training, and growth. The new manager will set the standards referring to the personal experience of growing from a packer to the position of a manager.

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Organizing

The stage of organizing is concerned with the structural aspect. The manager designs a structure that defines and clearly describes roles, tasks, and responsibilities (Leonard & Trusty, 2015). The existing structure is rather effective as employees can perform specific tasks at a high pace with almost no errors due to the focus on the same activity during an extended period (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018).

Ahmed (2017) states that the benefits of departmentalization and structuring have been acknowledged and well-researched. Job satisfaction and employees’ commitment to organizational goals are facilitated by the establishment of clear roles and responsibilities. People are aware of the scope of their authority and the tasks to be performed. Departmentalization involves the description of each role as well as the interaction between different employees and components of the structure.

When applied to the facility under analysis, the workstations can be grouped in larger departments to focus on different operations that will be improved. Supervisors will play a key role in the implementation of this plan, as they will become responsible for particular departments. Due to the specifics of the work at a warehouse, the existing flexibility will be maintained, and workers will be able to work in different areas.

However, this transition will be systematized as employees need to maintain proper links to the rest of the team so that their transfer to another workstation could not disrupt the collaboration in the team. It is important to develop detailed guides with a focus on communication patterns and the description of responsibilities.

Staffing

Staffing is an important element of management that ensures the availability of the workforce and the proper functioning of the organization. As mentioned above, the turnover in Amazon warehouses is quite significant, especially among packers (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). During holiday seasons, the need for packers increases, so the number of packers should be increased depending on the workload.

Internal staffing is a helpful instrument utilized to replace managerial personnel and those occupying leading positions (Leonard & Trusty, 2015). The manager will use this tool when replacing supervisors, and the focus will be on people whose performance is exceptional or better compared to others. It is also important to locate people who are willing to grow because employees’ commitment to growing will ensure their diligence. Supervisors will collect such information when communicating with packers. Regular performance reports will be instrumental in identifying high-performers.

As for packers, the use of social media, employee referrals, and vacancy notices will be the primary staffing measures. Clearly, these methods will also be applied when recruiting supervisors if necessary. Vacancy notices may seem rather outdated, but they can be quite effective when employing low-skilled and part-time workers. Employee referrals still remain an effective method to staff departments as the newcomers will already have certain information about the company and the work characteristics. Leonard and Trusty (2015) state that the utilization of social media in staffing is becoming common due to the efficacy of this strategy. It is possible to reach a wide audience within a short period of time, which can be critical during some seasons.

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Leading

The choice of the most appropriate leadership style is essential for the effective management of business processes. Transactional and transformational leadership styles have been widely used because these frameworks are seen as the most appropriate for the modern organization (Leonard & Trusty, 2015). The transactional leadership style implies the focus on goals and performance. Managers use the system of rewards and punishments to motivate employees. Transformational leaders try to inspire people to work effectively and collaborate with each other. The leader is a mentor and a guide who ensures the realization of each employee’s potential. Managers employ one of these styles, but it is rather common to use the elements of both paradigms.

The management of an Amazon facility will require the use of the two styles mentioned above, depending mainly on the season, the employee’s traits, and the employee’s position. During periods of a high workload, the transactional leadership style will be appropriate because the staff will have little time to invest in team-building activities. It is noteworthy that team building should never stop, even during the busiest periods, but the number and duration of these activities will be limited (Leonard & Trusty, 2015).

The use of transformational leadership strategies will also be necessary during high seasons as employees will need support and aid from each other and their supervisors. Hence, the manager will concentrate on performance, goals, tasks, and processes during these periods but will also try to inspire people and provide effective mentorship.

When the workload is not excessive, the focus on the development of a strong culture is possible. The managers will focus on relationships and people’s self-realization within the organization (Leonard & Trusty, 2015). The manager will mentor and train supervisors to become transformational leaders and use the corresponding style with packers. Clearly, the elements of transactional leadership will be maintained as the system of rewards and punishments will be maintained but will not be central.

Controls

As mentioned above, the performance of employees is measured on a regular basis, which is a part of the controlling function. Apart from periodic controls that are scheduled checks of performance, constant controls should be applied to ensure efficient operations (Baack, Reilly, & Minnick, 2014).

Constant controls are established by the introduction of certain standards. The establishment of the standards will be instrumental in measuring people’s performance and identifying those to be rewarded and those whose behavior should be changed. The facility should have standards similar to the ones set in other warehouses. Therefore, the manager will make sure that similar standards at company-wide, departmental, and individual levels are utilized (Baack et al., 2014). Clearly, it is necessary to measure the standards and identify whether they are achievable, difficult, or impossible to attain, clearly stated, and measurable. If standards are inconsistent with these characteristics, they should be reconsidered.

The evaluation of performance is a complex process involving the comparison of actual performance with the standards, as well as other employees’ achievements. Supervisors will collect statistical data concerning packers’ performance with the help of the utilized information system (Cattero & D’Onofrio, 2018). Self-reports will also be utilized, as they will assist in identifying employees who are willing and ready to occupy higher positions.

Based on the collected data, the manager will make the corresponding decisions. High-achievers will be rewarded in diverse ways. They can receive monetary rewards or gain a more flexible schedule. Promotion is another type of reward that can become a result of performance control. Employees whose performance is unsatisfactory can be punished depending on the result of the checks. Fines or the termination of contracts can be the measures to apply with some employees.

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Conclusion

On balance, the new facility will face certain changes, but they do not have to be dramatic. The application of the five functions of management can guide this process. The manager may add a higher level of hierarchy by introducing departments to optimize people’s flow through workstations. It is essential to use a combination of transactional and transformational leadership styles. Every function of the management cycle needs specific attention, but the control function may be seen as the most challenging and decisive. This function serves as the assessment and the basis for improvement that can be introduced when performing the other four functions.

References

Ahmed, M. A. (2017). The importance of organizational structuring and departmentalization in workplace. The Journal of Middle East and North Africa Sciences, 3(3), 30–38.

Baack, D., Reilly, M., & Minnick, C. (2014). The five functions of effective management (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Cattero, B., & D’Onofrio, M. (2018). Organizing and collective bargaining in the digitized “tertiary factories” of Amazon: A comparison between Germany and Italy. In E. Ales et al. (Ed.), Working in digital and smart organizations: Legal, economic and organizational perspectives on the digitalization of labour relations (pp. 141-164). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Leonard, E. C., & Trusty, K. A. (2015). Supervision: Concepts and practices of management (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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