Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A Business Report on Golden Tone Telecommunications: Organization Structure and its Influence within the Organisation and the Business Environment - A Focus on Leadership and Management

Case profile: Leadership in telecommunications
The Chairman of Golden-tone Telecommunications PLC (GT), Steve Wright, had come under increasing pressure from the shareholders because of the company’s poor performance. GT has gone from being one of the most successful telecommunications companies of the 1980s and 1990s when the company was asset rich, to a position where it has accumulated an enormous debt.
Much of the responsibility for this dreadful decline in the fortunes of GT has been attributed to Steve Wright. Business analysts of the telecommunications industry have suggested a number of reasons why the company’s performance has deteriorated.
They include:
1.      GT did not introduce new technology quickly enough and did not adapt to the changes in the consumer telecommunications market; for example, the rapid changes that have occurred in the mobile phone industry.
2.      The competition in the telecommunications sector has dramatically increased. This reduced GT’s market share and weakened its competitive position.
3.      The competition responded faster to the changes in the market.
4.      GT is still organised in a traditional hierarchical structure, as it has always been. Decision making is still made by committees, which take far too long to make the necessary decisions in a rapidly changing environment.
5.      GT’s competitors have far more responsive organisation structures, which allow decisions to be made within days.
6.      Analysts also pointed out that Steve Wright does not have the leadership skills that a modern company requires. They said he is more of a traditional manager, who is more concerned with maintaining and controlling GT. These skills, they argue, are more suited to organisations of the past, which did not need to respond quickly to the changes in the market place.
Part 1
Produce a business report that would provide Steve Wright with the advice he requires on how to change GT and enable it to respond to the increased competition.
The report should address the following questions:
1)      Briefly describe five characteristics of a manager. Explain why with the use of examples, Steve Wright should become much more of a leader as opposed to just being a manager.
2)      Briefly describe five characteristics of a leader. Explain with the use of examples, the points that demonstrate successful leaders/leadership.
3)      This company has a hierarchical organization structure, discuss an appropriate alternative structure. Explain the differences between the two.
Part 2
In your opinion explain five benefits and the need for a more responsive organisation structure and give reasons why you are also to provide recommendations and suggest how GT can achieve this goal.
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Organizational Hierarchy. Photo Credit: 123rf.com
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Organization Structure, Leadership and Management
Golden Tone Telecommunications has lost its competitive edge in the telecommunication sector, and this has driven the company into debt. The organizational structure of the firm and its inability to adapt to the evolving business climate are the two main factors that have pushed the firm towards realizing lower yields. The organization structure directly impacts the output of the firm as it influences the practices, policies and processes that characterize the workplace environment. Thus, a non-responsive and overtly rigid organization structure creates a workplace environment that is unresponsive to changes in the business environment. This is exposed in business practices of Golden Tone Telecommunications (GTT) which reflect the workplace environment. For instance, GTT was slow to adopt novel telecommunication technology, and thus the workplace was unable to adopt modern practices, and this ultimately reduced the competitive advantage of the firm.
The paper focuses on the dynamics of how the organization structure of GTT affected the functioning of the firm; and also how the management style of the firm’s chairman, Steve Wright, has affected the operations and fortunes of the firm. Intertwined between the organization structure and the corresponding output of the firm is the issue of adaptability and responsiveness.
Part 1
Characteristics of a Manager
The five main characteristics of a manager that would benefit GTT are described hereafter. The first characteristic is good communication skills (Boddy 2011). This enables the manager to communicate the goals and targets of the firm to the employees. The second characteristic is responsiveness as this enables the leader to provide feedback to the employees (Ashkenas, Ulrich, Jick & Kerr 2015). The third characteristic is trust as it fosters workplace cohesion and unity of purpose (Eisenberg, Goodall Jr & Trethewey 2013). The fourth characteristic is fairness as this would promote equity in the workplace, and thus motivate the employees to increase their work output (Hatch & Cunliffe 2013). Finally, a good manager must be able to make decision quickly, and if the company policies require such decisions to be made by a committee, then the manager would accelerate the decision-making process (Cummings & Worley 2014).
The management process requires constant interactions between the manager and his subordinates (Mullins & Christy 2013). For Steve Wright, good communications skills would enable him to set the appropriate tone for the business operations as well as clearly describe the targets and objectives of the firm. This would enable Wright to formulate a vision for GTT and plainly explain it to his employees. This would result in employee empowerment as they will know what needs to be done, and they would thus do their best to achieve the set targets. The quality of responsiveness would enable Wright to provide the appropriate feedback to his employees. This would enable the employees to gauge whether they are doing the right thing or not. Moreover, if the feedback is provided alongside valuable advice, then the employees would be motivated and inspired to improve on their quality of work.
Wright would benefit by showing that he trusts his employees to properly complete the tasks given. Likewise, manager-employee trust also enhances workplace unity, and thus enables employees to work cohesively to achieve the set targets. Furthermore, it fosters employee motivation, and this ultimately leads to increased worker output.
Wright would also benefit from the attribute of fairness as it not only promotes equity in the workplace and also foster employee motivation, but it also ensures that tasks are delegated and allocated based on the capabilities of the employees to complete the assigned task. This serves to maximize work output as well as optimize the quality of work. Finally, the decision-making process must be fast so as to ensure that there is minimal work disruption, and that the necessary changes are made in a timely manner.
Characteristics of a Leader
The five main characteristics of a leader that would benefit GTT are described hereafter. The foremost characteristic is flexibility. Flexibility allows a leader to be responsive to changes in the business environment (Robbins & Judge 2014). The second characteristic is effective communication. This is based on good communication skills which enable the leader to not only convey his message to the employees, but to also leverage his charisma to the benefit of the company (Naylor 2004). The third characteristic is courage as this would enable the leader to stand firm during periods of adversity (Reeves 2004). The fourth characteristic is humility as this would enable the leader to listen to the employees (Mullins & Christy 2013). Finally, a good leader must be responsible and accept blame and constructive criticism (Linstead, Fulop & Lilley 2009).
A flexible leader understands that planning does affect the outcome of the firm, but that not everything will go on as planned (Robbins & Judge 2014). Steve Wright would benefit the firm by being a flexible leader as he would be able to understand that competitors in his market niche do change tactics and that government regulations also change, and this would enable him to change or reorient the business strategies appropriately. At present, his inflexibility has driven the firm to non-profitability because he does not want to change the course of business operations as well as sticks to outdated modes of business leadership styles which favor time-consuming deliberations by committees instead of quick decision making by an expert panel.
Effective communication is grounded on good communication skills which reflect not only the charisma of the leader, but also his personality and charisma. Steve Wright would benefit by being able to effectively share his thoughts with his employees, and also ensure that his communications reflect his personal strength and character. This form of communication would enable Wright to clearly define the goals and aims of GTT to the employees and in the process empower them to think innovatively about how the set targets will be attained. The overall effect would be an empowered workforce which works to realize a set number of goals.
Courage would enable Steve Wright to weather the uncertainties that characterize the telecommunications sector, especially when a new technology is invented which obsoletes the existing technology, or when a new competitor enters the markets and then offers substitute services at a bargain. Likewise, humility would enable Wright to exert his presence across the firm and also be responsive to the needs of employees; as well as empathize with the concerns of the employees besides inspiring them. This improves employee motivation and thus results in greater work output. Finally, accepting responsibility would enable Wright to acknowledge that his leadership style and business strategies are not optimized for the success of the company, and thus there is need to re-strategize.
Organization Structure
The firm has a hierarchical organization structure, and this form of structure has played a role in undermining the viability of the firm. The most viable alternative organization structure for GTT is the matrix structure. This form of structure groups the employees based on product and function (Linstead, Fulop & Lilley 2009). Thus, employees dealing with phone sales are grouped differently from those dealing with tariff allocation and creation of mobile services. This enhances division of labor within the firm as well as enhances specialization within the specific departments. The key strength of the matrix structure is derived from its emphasis on use of employee teams to accomplish specific tasks as this synergizes the strengths of the individual employees in the team in addition to leveraging the unique weaknesses of each employee (Robbins & Judge 2014). This results in greater work output and an improvement in the quality of work.
The balanced functional matrix structure would be optimal for the firm as it would ensure that power is shared equitably between the project managers and the technical managers hence ensuring that specific projects are completed on time, and in the right format. Consequently, this promotes flexibility during decision-making as each department can make its independent decisions quickly, and such decisions are only referred to the top management only for confirmation and validation (Ashkenas, Ulrich, Jick & Kerr 2015). Thus, the decision-making time is significantly reduced while internal communications are streamlined and optimized.
The main differences between the hierarchical and matrix form of organization structure are described hereafter. First of all, the hierarchical structure does not permit diffusion of power, and strict subordination characterizes the relationship between the managers and the employees. In the matrix structure, project managers share power with the technical managers and the top management serves an oversight role as well as confirms the decision made by the individual departments besides setting the targets for the departments (Cummings & Worley 2014). Therefore, the decision making process in the matrix structure takes a shorter period of time as compared to the equivalent process in the hierarchical structure. Thus, the matrix structure is more responsive to change than the hierarchical structure.
Moreover, the bureaucratic configuration that defines the hierarchical structure sets a common set of standards that all the departments and employees must abide with, and this sets a rigid appraisal system which lacks flexibility as per the specific workplace needs of the various departments (Cummings & Worley 2014). This also serves to create rigid internal communication channels, and thus there is a lag between when the employees raise concerns, and when these concerns reach the top management. On the other hand, the matrix structure lacks a strict bureaucratic configuration and thus departments can communicate with each other more easily and the employees’ concern can reach the top management quickly, and this is indicative of the fact that internal communications are streamlined and optimized (Ashkenas, Ulrich, Jick & Kerr 2015).
Part 2
A responsive organization structure is beneficial to a firm, and five of these benefits are described hereafter. To begin with, the firm benefits from good communication as the managers can easily communicate with the employees and thus be able to respond appropriately and timely to their concerns and needs. This also ensures that the employees receive accurate information that has been relayed by the top management (Ashkenas, Ulrich, Jick & Kerr 2015). Secondly, the firm benefits from organizational flexibility that enables the firm to formulate, adopt and implement strategic business plans; as there are levels of the management hierarchy, and the decision-making process is delegated to the departments with the top-management only providing guidance and oversight. Thirdly, the firm would benefit from organizational response as the few layers of management means that the needs and concerns of the employees and customers can be deliberated upon in a quick manner, and the appropriate decision arrived at within a short period of time, and this decision can be communicated to the frontline employees quickly, and the necessary changes implemented (Cummings & Worley 2014). Fourthly, unity of purpose is brought about by the shared goals of the firm, and thus each department would strive to work towards achieving its specific targets, but within the framework of enabling the firm to realize its main goals (Linstead, Fulop & Lilley 2009). Finally, a responsive structure fosters accountability as managers would be subjected to constant appraisal by both their superiors and employees, and this serves to motivate the managers to achieve their targets (Boddy 2011).
GTT needs to hasten the process of decision-making as well as make its internal operations and practices more adaptable to the changing needs of its ever-evolving market niche of telecommunications. For this reason, Steve Wright and the top management of the firm must adopt a responsive organization structure as it will enable the firm to adapt to the changes of the market. This goal can be achieved if the following recommendations are implemented:
1.      GTT needs to adopt a balanced functional matrix form of organizational structure in which the different functions performed by the firm are separated with each function being assigned to a specific department. Thereafter, each department is staffed by a specialized workforce capable of handling the task assigned, and also achieves the targets set for each department. This fosters division of labor and a higher degree of specialization within the firm.
2.      Organizational flexibility is assured by reducing the levels of management hierarchy. Thus, there would be the top management team, and below it the individual departmental management teams. This creates only two layers of management, and thus the instructions issued by the top management can reach the employees quickly. The converse also applies. This way, the firm can recognize new opportunities and threats and effectively respond to them in a timely manner.
Conclusion
GTT has suffered loss of market value and competitive edge due to a hierarchical structure that is characterized by a rigid bureaucratic configuration. This has made the firm unresponsive to market demands, as well as imperiled the ability of the firm to adapt to market changes. The result has been a decrease in its customer base and mounting debts that have been brought about by the need to keep the operations of the firm running. This state of affairs can be remedied if the firm adopts a balanced functional matrix form of organizational structure. This form of organizational structure would benefit the firm by introducing operational flexibility in its practices and processes as well as fostering efficient communication between the management and the employees hence ultimately increasing employee motivation thus resulting in greater work output. This is brought about by the removal of communication barriers between the frontline employees and the top-level management. Furthermore, organizational responsiveness would be enhanced, and this would enable the firm to be adaptable to the changing business environment. Likewise, the matrix organization structure also serves to motivate both the employees and their managers to brainstorm together so as to achieve their set targets.
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Bibliography
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