This paper primarily deals with examining the Alvis Corporation case study in order to evaluate the methods utilized by the manager in order to achieve a certain level of employee consensus involving vacation time and the quality of the products that were being made by the company.
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The article primarily dealt with the inherent issues when it comes to the concept of change in an organization within the context of participative management. There were two issues that were brought up within the case that the manager wanted to be resolved. The first was the quality issues that were plaguing the company wherein despite the addition of new machines to make the jobs of workers easier, the end result was actually a decline in the quality of what was produced. The second issue was related to the vacation schedules of the workers and the desire of the manager to create a greater level of inclusion wherein workers would be able to decide the summer vacation schedules for themselves.
While the case of the Alvis Corporation showed the desire for the manager to shift towards the participative management model in order to incite positive change within the company, the end result was that workers were unable to manifest the desired changes that the manager was after (i.e. resolving the issues involving production standards as well as vacation schedules). The end result revealed the quality issue was primarily connected to the low base pay rate of the workers and the vacation issue remained unresolved due to group dissent.
Key Learning Points
The first learning point from the article is the fact that participative management does not simply entail having workers be part of the decision making process within the company, rather, it also involves a considerable degree of active participation on the part of managers in order to properly guide employees when it comes to decision making. As it was seen in the latter half of the article, the decision of the manager to simply leave the employees alone resulted in nothing really being accomplished when it came to the vacation schedule.
Based on the work of Wei-Ping & Yuan-Due (2001), it was noted that participative management involves setting proper guidelines, rules for decision, creating expected outcomes and outlining why particular practices need to be implemented. Merely leaving workers to come up with their own decisions without setting the proper instructions and context behind these decisions is a recipe for disaster as evidenced by the end result of the article. The second learning point is the fact that managers should not expect employees to come to a decision which would result in more work for them. This manifested itself in the article in the form of quality issues as well as the fact that the workers did not advocate for higher quality standards despite better equipment being installed.
It was naive of the manager to assume that the employees would advocate for higher quality standards due to the new equipment since this would in effect create a greater burden on them (Employee involvement helps bottom line: Study, 1996). The last learning point from the article is the fact that managerial decisions should be prefaced within the context of an informed decision. The mere fact that the manager was not aware that the base pay rate of the employees had not kept up with inflation shows that decisions that were made did not have a stable foundation of accurate information.
- “She assumed they knew the pay incentives were no longer fair and would set a higher standard.
- “Base pay rate had not kept up with inflation”
- “Several of the workers wanted to take their vacations during the same two week period and could not agree on who should go”.
Presentation of Argument/Stance
Based on an examination of the relevant details in the case study, it is the stance of this paper that the manager was wrong when it came to the implementation of participatory management in the case of the company. What was lacking was the establishment of sufficient context and guidance to enable employees to come to a decision. However, what was present was a more “laissez-faire” management style that had the idea that allowing the employees to come to a decision on their own would be good for the company yet neglected to ensure that such a decision would actually come about.
As explained by Burns, Hyde, Killett, Poland & Gray (2014), participatory management is often utilized in horizontally oriented organizations where employees from different facets of an organization can come to an agreement regarding the organization of projects, the assignment of tasks, etc. However, Wei-Ping & Yuan-Due (2001) detail that participatory management is often not as effective when it comes to hierarchical organizations that are commonly attributed to manufacturing companies where strict adherence to quality guidelines and procedures are necessary.
This is due to the fact that the competing ideas of workers does not mesh with the need for stringent quality standards as well as the implementation of proper scheduling and supply chains in order to keep a manufacturing business running at peak performance. It is based on this that when examining the needs of the organization, the outcome of the actions of the manager as well as the resulting behavior of the employees, it is the stance of this paper that a participatory management structure would be ineffective in this particular case and should not be implemented at all.
Instead, it would be better to raise the current salary thresholds of the employees while implementing a quality control system that takes into consideration the consistency of quality rather than the rate of production as the means by which an employee’s bonus will be given (Employee involvement helps bottom line: Study, 1996).
Application of subject matter in business case
The application of the subject matter that has been presented so far is that it can help me immensely when it comes to understanding the inherent issues related to creating participatory management strategies. What this case has taught me is that a great deal of facilitation and guidance is necessary in order to help employees come to a decision. It is not enough that you point them in the right direction, rather, it is also necessary to guide them there yourself in order to bring about the desired outcome. Through this lesson, I will be able to avoid the aforementioned issues and help to ensure a proper transition from one management structure to another should the need ever arise.
What have I learned from the case?
One of the main ideas that I have learned from the case is that utilizing incentives in work without taking into consideration the base pay rate of employees would result in declining rates of quality. In the case, it was explained that despite the improvements that were implemented within the company when it came to the equipment utilized and the incentives that were implemented, there was actually a decline in the quality of the products that were made.
The main reason behind this was quite simple, the incentives focused on the amount of material products produced after a certain threshold was reached, however, it did not specifically indicate that the quality of the product should remain the same at all levels of production. It should also be noted that when it came to the base pay rate of the employees, since it had remained unchanged despite costs increasing, this means that employees would attempt some means of rectifying this which came in the form of producing more products to get more incentives albeit at the cost of product quality.
Taking this into consideration, managerial practices in relation to improving employee performance should not only take into consideration the type of incentive that has been applied but should also determine whether the current treatment of employees, whether in the form of their work environment or salaries, needs to be re-evaluated and brought up to speed. If the manager in the case had implemented better quality control mechanisms while at the same time making sure that the base pay rate of the employees was at an adequately set level, then the overall performance of the company would have increased without the quality of the products being compromised.
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Vroom-Yetton Decision Model
After examining the Vroom-Yetton decision model and comparing it to the procedure utilized by the participants, it was determined that it was not appropriate. The main reason behind this conclusion was the lack of a facilitator in the decision making process that would have enabled the group to come to an appropriate consensus.
Mistakes that were made
One of the first mistakes was the lack of supervision and context that was necessary in order to have the group come together to actually make a proper decision. The second problem was the implementation of the participatory model itself when a different management method should be chosen given the nature of the company. To mitigate the identified problems, it would be necessary to create a better method of decision facilitation with the manger being there to help the group come to a decision.
Appropriateness of Decisions
After going over the events that occurred, it is the conclusion of this paper that the decisions were not appropriate given their context and how they applied to the workers.
Burns, D., Hyde, P., Killett, A., Poland, F., & Gray, R. (2014). Participatory Organizational Research: Examining Voice in the Co-production of Knowledge. British Journal Of Management, 25(1), 133-144.
Employee involvement helps bottom line: Study. (1996). Employee Benefit Plan Review, 51(1), 50.
Wei-Ping, W., & Yuan-Duen, L. (2001). Participatory management and industrial relations climate: a study of Chinese, Japanese and US firms in Taiwan.
International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 12(5), 827-844.