Yorkshire House Foods Ltd.’s Project Orion

Since business processes are complex and multifaceted, every change within them can potentially result in a wide range of complications and consequences, creating a powerful ripple effect. As a result, it is critical to plan and prepare carefully the projects intended to facilitate change. The preparation and planning processes are usually comprised of several tasks, such as various assessments, evaluations, and tests. This initial stage of the project management lifecycle is detrimental to the success and effectiveness of the entire project. This report presents a detailed overview of the Orion project with the inclusion of the steps of practical risk assessment and containment alongside the recommendations as to how the project should be managed.

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Project Overview

Yorkshire House Foods Ltd. is specialised in the production of processed and cooked meat and meat products. The manufacturing staff includes 184 persons, all of whom work on one site. The company sells the products to foodservice providers and small retailers and has approximately 1% of the sliced and cooked meat and chilled sausage markets that respectively comprise £990 million and £450 million. The business is successful; however, the leaders of Yorkshire House Foods intend to introduce several changes to expand it and maximise the profit. One of the planned changes is Project Orion that is aimed at the improvement of business processes and information systems to increase market share (wholesale and foodservice markets) through penetrating the retail sector; as a result, the increase in turnover to £20 million is expected within the next five years.

Risks

The process of risk assessment includes such significant steps as the identification, analysis, and evaluation of the existing dangers (Popov, Lyon, & Hollcroft, 2016). Project Orion is aimed at the elimination of the following problems:

  • Poorly documented roles and responsibilities
  • Low skill levels
  • Poor manager-employee communication
  • Insufficient provision of information for decision-making
  • High rates of labour turnover (90% annually)
  • Decreasing profitability

The significant risks associated with the project will include the increased cost of staffing and retention practices, the employees’ resistance to change (especially when it comes to the improvement of skills levels and manager-staff communication), and an even more significant profitability decrease due to the time spent on the coaching and training programs designed to fill in the communication and skills gaps.

Staffing and Retention Costs

Discussing the issues related to staffing and retention, it is essential to mention that the findings of many studies indicate that organisational change is often associated with an increased turnover intention (Appelbaum, 2008; Rafferty & Restubog, 2009; Babalola, Stouten, & Euwema, 2014). The rates of turnover at Yorkshire House Foods are already as high as 90%. The risk that the organisational changes may aggravate the current turnover is high. The owners of this risk are the HR professionals and the other managers involved in staffing and recruitment practices. The impact of this risk can be evaluated as high-level since the organisation has been dealing quite successfully with the 90% turnover rates for some time, and even a minor increase in this rate may significantly impact the performance and service quality. However, due to the increased need for the new human resources and the active retention strategies – the company will have to prepare for the higher expenditures related to retention and turnover.

Resistance to Change and Job Satisfaction

The staff often resists organisational change due to the stress that it tends to create (Mulki, Jaramillo, Malhotra, & Locander, 2012). Moreover, Gering and Conner (2002) linked resistance to change to job satisfaction of the employees that is measurable and is based on such determiners as the size of pay, the frequency of appraisal, growth and learning opportunities, and the presence of materials and equipment for the delivery of quality performance. The risk of resistance to change in Yorkshire House Foods is high. The impact of this risk may also be of high level since many of the planned aspects of change are expected to involve the workers and require their willing participation. The response to this risk would include the maximisation of job satisfaction among the employees (Holtom, Mitchell, Lee, & Eberly, 2008). In this regard, the risk owners are the HR managers involved in the process of change and the managers of the spheres related to the level of job satisfaction. For example, if the appraisal is one of the causes of low satisfaction, then job supervisors, office and department managers should be considered the owners of this risk as well.

Profitability

Even though it has been noticed that staffing, training, and retention practices contribute to the long-term improvement of the organisational performance, there is still a correlation between the initiation of the methods and the decrease in profitability due to the cost of staffing, recruitment, and training, as well as the time the employees spend learning (Kim & Ployhart, 2014). Yorkshire House Foods operates in the industry that does not have distinct low-seasons that could help the company implement change when the employees’ workloads are milder without losing profit. Therefore, the change is likely to impact the company’s profitability. The probability and impact of this risk are medium and low due to the company’s successful performance in the previous years and financial readiness to launch change.

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Information and Decision-Making

When it comes to communication of the information for decision-making purposes, it is essential to point out one of the significant challenges faced by all organisations where this issue is of importance. In particular, there are no standardised methods of communication of information for decision-making that outline the specific forms in which the data needs to be provided to achieve the highest level of understanding and the best efficiency (Hogarth & Soyer, 2015).

As a result of this gap in communication, a variety of issues can arise, producing an adverse effect on the decision-making and its final results. For example, top-level managers usually receive performance statistics that are based on a variety of indicators. If the indicators are outlined wrongly, the company will end up targeting the change in practices and tasks that are unrelated to the results, and the change will fail. Also, if the employees or the managers cannot control the established and accepted indicators, the change practices would not be able to produce any results. At the same time, it is crucial to notice that the attempts to introduce change are often very stressful for the workers and the more unsuccessful change initiatives are taken – the more strained and tense the employees’ work attitudes may become. These outcomes usually result in a higher turnover intention and lower job satisfaction in the workplace.

In other words, when it comes to the search for a solution to the problem of ineffective provision of information for decision-making, the managers and leaders are to focus on the process of collection and analysis of data, as well as the establishment of the correct indicators and aspects to include (Nowduri, 2011).

Recommendations

Project management is inevitably related to the occurrence of versatile risks. As a result, risk control practices are in place; they are based on risk response planning (Gardiner, 2005).

Response to Increased Turnover and Decreased Job Satisfaction

The employee socialisation, a set of rewards and incentives, and a strong corporate culture are named among the major inside enterprise factors contributing to the rates of retention and turnover (Wang, Wang, Wang, Zhang, & Cao, 2011; Jones & Van de Ven, 2016). Therefore, the response initiatives are to be focused on addressing these factors to control the turnover and retention that are in direct relation with job satisfaction.

It is recommended that the leaders and managers of Yorkshire House Foods focus on the definition and creation of a strong company culture based on its vision and mission, strengthen the level of integrity of the employees, formulating incentives of tangible and intangible nature (such as career opportunities, training options, appraisal and feedback). One of the most powerful factors here is going to be the communication between leaders and staff members directed at the clarification of duties, roles, and objectives, especially the ones related to the implementation of change.

Response to Resistance to Change

The communication between company leadership and employees is a very significant factor when it comes to the response to resistance to change. In particular, the employees require detailed information about what is done, for what reason, and what the final goals are. The awareness of goals and duties brings clarity to the change process and allows creating a plan with measurable objectives and milestones (Simoes & Esposito, 2014). Communication is identified as one of the primary problems in the given organisation that are critical to improving because it serves as the foundation for readiness to change, helps to minimise uncertainty and resistance, and ultimately stimulates the development of commitment and integrity in the organisational culture (Simoes & Esposito, 2014). In the project lifecycle, the improvement of company culture and communication should be the first measures implemented before the initiatives addressing staffing, satisfaction, and retention issues are put into practice.

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Response to the Information and Communication Problems

Information and communication challenge is a very broad issue that will require a substantial body of research on different aspects and factors contributing to the problem. In particular, attempting to address this problem, the management must identify the specific chain based on which the information moves from the employees to the top management and that kinds of analysis it undergoes on the way. Usually, the companies with multiple workers employ a specific team of analytics whose task is to collect and interpret statistical data concerning the performance of each department. As a result, the issues that need to be included in the preparation and planning stages for the change project are the indicators of quality and problems based on which the data about performance is analysed, the approach to analysis, and the way the decision-makers interpret the results. Also, it could be helpful to assess the perceptions of the company’s employees as to the established indicators and the previous attempts of change implementation. The employees may share some valuable insights concerning what the major operational problems in the company are and what weaknesses there exist in the process of addressing the challenges.

The inclusion of employees in the process of planning and analysis will also contribute to the establishment of a tighter and more active communication process between the workers and their managers. The employees’ involvement in the preparation of change and their ability to impact their leaders’ perspectives on what needs to be altered and transformed in the organisation to improve the efficiency of its operations and comfort of the workers could serve as a very significant step towards the creation and maintenance of a new style of interaction between the workers and managers of different levels.

Briefing Paper

To: Yorkshire House Foods Management Team

Topic: Organisational Change and Project Orion

Date: March 8, 2017

Introduction

Project Orion is going to be a complex endeavour comprised of multiple parts, aspects, and targeting many different goals. It has been discovered that Yorkshire House Foods is facing a series of significant problems that require the attention of the company’s leadership and management teams. The ultimate objective of Project Orion is not only the elimination of the existing challenges, but the facilitation of long-term change in a variety of aspects such as the communication between managers and employees, labour turnover, low skill levels, poorly documented roles and responsibilities, and decreasing profitability. There is a lot of work ahead. This briefing paper is designed to familiarise the management team with the primary focuses of the upcoming change, steps to undertake, and project management techniques that will be used.

Issues to Address

The first pressing issue in need of attention is the communication between managers and employees. This problem, in turn, contributes to a set of other challenges such as the poor knowledge of roles and duties, low job satisfaction, and, as consequences, high rates of turnover and the potential resistance to organisational change. In that way, it is possible to state that addressing the root problem, the team of managers could produce a positive effect on several different aspects.

Another significant problem that will be addressed through the planned change concerns the low skills on many organisational levels. To resolve this problem, a series of training and coaching sessions will have to be introduced to the specialists lacking skills. Consequently, this measure will affect the number of hours the employees spend working and thus is likely to produce a negative effect on organisational performance.

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Additionally, labour turnover is currently at an extremely high level in Yorkshire House Foods. This problem requires solutions that will contribute to a higher retention rate and an improvement in service quality and organisational performance. This problem is also deeply intertwined with the other issues facing the company. Thus a clear and organised plan is required addressing the implementation of change and covering all stages of the project lifecycle.

Steps to Consider

Project initiation is the first step of any project’s lifecycle. At this stage, it is critical to define the change that is expected and the effects it will target. Project Orion has already been defined as the one aiming at the improvement of business processes and information systems. The next stage is planning of change. This is the phase implemented currently, and it involves the review of the project, its breaking down into specific steps, and formulation of a schedule with measurable objectives and distinct milestones. Knowing that Yorkshire House Foods is facing a series of problems most of which are connected, it is important to identify the issues that need to be addressed first to avoid failures at the latter stages of project implementation. It is proposed that communication issue is handled first because when addressed properly, it can power the tasks targeting job satisfaction improvement and the acceptance of the change. Within this step, it is necessary to gather a team of professionals (comprised of HR managers, job supervisors, office and department managers) and review each of the jobs available today at Yorkshire House Foods, its KPIs, expected KSAOs, and the range of duties and tasks the people engaged in these jobs are anticipated to fulfil. It is critical to eliminate all of the ambiguities and create new handbook descriptions of roles for the employees, as well as the managers.

Further, the employees need to be informed about the changes and the reasons why they are introduced. A series of gatherings need to be held designed to familiarise the workers with the goals of the project, the causes for change, how it will affect the workers, and for what reason it is implemented. The sessions are to allow questions from the audience to respond to the immediate concerns of the employees. The most frequently asked questions are to be answered in written form and presented on the company website and through personal memos. Also, all of the management staff members need to be prepared to deal with the future questions from and concerns of the employees. It is important to remember that confusion and uncertainty are enemies of successful change implementation. The peaceful and reassuring manner of communication regarding change is advised.

Project Management Techniques

After the identification of the project scope, its review, and the creation of the team of managers and leaders responsible for the implementation of change, it is critical to cover the resources required to put the expected transformation into practice. In particular, Project Orion will require substantial financial support to carry out all the required skill improvement training and educational sessions and the creation of new handbooks with the clarified employee roles and duties, as well as the emphasis of the new organisational culture facilitating communication between staff and management. Another expenditure of the project will be staffing and retention (including the potential tangible incentives and rewards and motivators). Also, time is another resource critical to the project, especially its skills improvement and staffing parts as the coaches, recruiters, and the employees in training will have to spend hours working on tasks that are not usually included in their duties throughout the day. This tendency may result in a decrease in the company’s productivity in the short term. This risk needs to be faced with a sufficient level of financial preparedness because, in the long term, the change is expected to be highly beneficial. To measure the success, a schedule based on dates and milestones needs to be created to help the project managers to follow the progress and see whether or not additional measures are needed.

References

Appelbaum, S. (2008). The impact of organizational change, structure and leadership on employee turnover: A case study. Journal of Business case Studies, 4(1), 22-38.

Babalola, M. T., Stouten, J., & Euwema, M. (2014). Frequent change and turnover intention: The moderating role of ethical leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 134(2), 311-322.

Gardiner, P. (2005). Project management: A strategic planning approach. New York, NY: Palgrave.

Gering, J., & Conner, J. (2002). A Strategic Approach to Employee Retention. Healthcare Financial Management, 56(11), 40-44.

Hogarth, R. M., & Soyer, E. (2015). Providing information for decision making: Contrasting description and simulation. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4(3), 221-228.

Holtom, B. C., Mitchell, T. R., Lee, T. W., & Eberly, M. B. (2008). Turnover and retention research: a glance at the past, a closer review of the present, and a venture into the future. The Academy of Management Annals, 2(1), 231–274.

Jones, S. L., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2016). The Changing Nature of Change Resistance, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 52(4), 22-34.

Kim, Y., & Ployhart, R. E. (2014). The effects of staffing and training on firm productivity and profit growth before, during, and after the great recession. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(3), 361-389.

Mulki, J. P., Jaramillo, S., Malhotra, F., & Locander, W. (2012). Reluctant employees and felt stress: The moderating impact of manager decisiveness. Journal of Business Research, 65, 77-83.

Nowduri, S. (2011). Management information systems and business decision making: review, analysis, and recommendations. Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 7, 11.

Popov, G., Lyon, B., & Hollcroft, B. (2016). Risk assessment: A practical guide to assessing operational risks. New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.

Rafferty, O. E., & Rastubog, L. D. (2009). The impact of change process and context on change reactions and turnover during a merger. Journal of Management, 36(5), 11-16.

Simoes, P., & Esposito, M. (2014). Improving change management: how communication nature influences resistance to change. Journal of Management Development, 33(4), 324 – 341.

Wang, X., Wang, H., Wang, H., Zhang, L., & Cao, X. (2011). Constructing a decision support system for management of employee turnover risk. Information Technology and Management, 12, 187.

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