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One of the most challenging tasks of a leader is to transform an organization, to reengineer, and restructure that organization to meet the evolving demands of both the customer and the marketplace. However, most organization leaders are not able to steer their organizations towards meeting the expectations of investors, bondholders, employees, or customers.
Organizations can overcome challenges of job satisfaction and high turnover through skillful leadership. One of such organizations is the Kaplan University, which is a community university that is located in Illinois, the United States of America. The University is a purely business campus. This organization has various suppliers, employees, customers, bond members, investors, and the government.
However, the paper narrows down to the organization’s employees. The organization has over a thousand employees. Over the years, Kaplan campus has faced the challenge of unsatisfied employees who have then turned over to other organizations. In addition, it has had a low-job turnover based on its current poor management. Therefore, there is a need to address the possible changes (structural or management) that can help solve the aforementioned problems.
Organizational Structural Changes
Challenges of lack of employee satisfaction and high job turnover Kaplan campus can be resolved through changes in the organization structure. Bureaucratic structural change in this organization can help solve the current problems by enhancing strict hierarchies in terms of staff supervision.
In fact, Pugh (1990, p.9) affirms that the bureaucratic structure of an institution determines how tasks are allocated, the quality of supervision, and coordination. Embracing teamwork as a structural change can also help in changing the situation in this organization.
The structure is crucial in the realization of organizational aims in Kaplan University since employees will interact constructively in their work thus upholding diversity in the organization. There is a tremendous attribution of employee situation in Kaplan campus and organization structure because most of the employees do not have clearly defined duties.
This challenge has attracted much conflict from employees based on the issue that they have been performing overlapping duties with most of them accomplishing their assigned duties late or sometimes failing to accomplish them at all. Therefore, implementing a policy to have all jobs specified for each employee will enhance better performance and the realization of all the set goals and objectives of the organization.
A change model
In order to curb the problem of the high rate of job turnover, the organization should adopt a model that facilitates the functioning of a bureaucratic structure, a team structure, and a functional structure. According to Weber (1948, p.24), the bureaucratic structure functions just as a machine does in an environment that never used to use machines before.
A bureaucratic model is a model that has a high level of strictness in subordination. There is a clear-cut way of information flow. This organizational model will enable the organization to have quicker decision-making process, precision, and reduced friction. The model will enable Kaplan campus to have properly defined responsibilities and roles of employees.
It will also enable employees to have a feeling of respect of their merit thus leading to an established flexible hierarchical structure. For instance, some employees in the library department have always complained of being allocated marketing duties. In addition, employees who have furthered their studies in their areas of specialization and have many years of experience do not receive any promotions or pay rise.
This challenge entirely demoralizes them with most of them opting to look for similar jobs in organizations that offer respect for merit. In fact, Weber (1948) asserts that a bureaucratic structural model eliminates friction in an organization wholly due to the high level of job standardization. A bureaucratic model will enable Kaplan University to solve this problem.
In order to curb the problem of lack of employee satisfaction, Kaplan University should adopt a job specification policy. According to Robbins and Judge (2007, p.551), such a policy enables an organization to have all its parts defined. Defining the function of every part of an organization will enable employees to have control of what they do in the organization.
It will also enable them to feel the centrality of the role they play in the organization. This feeling of appreciation and relevancy raises the level of job satisfaction in most employees. However, such policies need to promote competition in order to yield high quality services. Kaplan University should therefore divide its employees into teams that have assertive team leaders.
Team structure will also enhance the level of teamwork in the institution. Hence, the employees will have the warmth of remaining in the organization. In their affirmation of this model, Robbins and Judge (2007) say that, when teams are given certain levels of autonomy, they yield high results based on the feeling of being respected and part of the whole organization.
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The model should also allow the execution of the functional structure. Various employees who perform various functional duties become a specialist in this structure. Employees are grouped by their areas of specialization. This strategy will solve the problem of lack of job satisfaction while also reducing the level of job turnover.
When Kaplan University implements the functional structure, it will increase its efficiency of operation. When operation efficiency increases, the quality of production will also increase thus translating into more standardized services. Production will also increase at a low cost. This structure will also enable the organization to have a mechanism to predict its production in an efficient manner.
According to Raymond (1992, p.6), the functional structures integrate functions in a vertical way enabling a faster production and reduction of the cost of production thus eliminating low levels of job satisfaction in this organization. Employees will also develop a sense of pride in the organization. When the level of job satisfaction is high, degree of job turnover also reduces.
The role of the leader
The leader of Kaplan University will have to play a key leadership role in solving these problems. Leadership including the management and supervisors will require certain skills in enabling the success of these structures and model. The leaders will play a managerial role in providing the necessary mechanisms for the functioning of these changes.
This role involves making logistic analysis and estimations. A leader in such a situation will require a democratic style of leadership. In this style of leadership, the decision making process will be shared between the leader and the followers. According to Foster (2002, p.4), in democratic leadership, the interests of the group are promoted through social equality in decision-making.
In this style of leadership, sharing of ideas, discussion, and debate concerning various organizational issues is encouraged. When applied, employees of Kaplan University will be enjoying in their organization. Hence, their level of satisfaction will be raised.
Most of the employees attribute their declining level of satisfaction to the failure of their organization to involve them in the decision-making process especially in matters that affect them either directly or indirectly. Foster (2002) establishes that, in a democratic style of leadership, followers become part of the decision makers in an organization.
This inclusion makes the employees of Kaplan university feel esteemed by their leaders. Democratic leadership style is extremely effective as it results in high level of production. Democratic leadership style will also contribute to high morale of the employees of Kaplan campus thus boosting the level of job turnover. Employees have a variety of ideas.
Hence, allowing them to be part of decision-making will make them own the process of implementation. A leader is a catalyst. The leadership of Kaplan University will therefore require the skills of servant-leadership. In order to allow a democratic style of leadership to properly take root, the leader must be a good listener. Good listening skills will enable the leader to share ideas with the employees therefore making informed decisions.
When employees are self-driven, the level of job satisfaction is raised and hence a high job turnover. These are the crucial leadership skills and style for this scenario. The leader in the implementation process will also need to be a good communicator. This skill will enable him or her to facilitate the process of implementation. Failure to communicate effectively will result in misunderstanding, which makes work exceptionally rigid. Misunderstandings also result in waste and loss of resources.
The leader should have skills to enable him source for new ideas from the employees. People skills will also enable him or her to share ideas with his or her colleagues thus enabling the organization to pull from its pool of resources. A good communicator will also promote better interaction among the employees. Hence, they will feel as part of the team and unequivocally reducing the rate of job turnover.
Barriers to success – how to overcome them
There are various barriers to success in the implementation of such a process. First, some employees are unskilled and may not be ready to share ideas. They end up wasting a lot of time in the process of discussion and sharing of ideas especially in the implementation of the democratic leadership style. The barrier makes the process of decision-making long and unfruitful since everyone would want to be listened.
This barrier will be overcome by occasional trainings of the employees. In-service courses and refresher courses will also be adopted to ensure that the employees are skillful. The organization will also allow adequate consultation time during decision-making. Since the process also takes into account team structure, information exchange will be easy. In fact, Theraja (2008, p.4) asserts that, in a team structure, both the horizontal and vertical information exchange takes place with every employee feeling considered in the making of organizational decisions hence raising their level of job satisfaction.
Secondly, lack of clearly defined roles is likely to be a barrier in the implementation process. In the process of implementing the bureaucratic leadership style, roles of every player need to be clearly defined. The point means that, if there will be any roles that are not clearly defined, they will be left unattended. To overcome this barrier, the organization leadership will carry out job description and design before any employment.
The current employees will also be served with a written document bearing their job descriptions and design. In addition, closer supervision will also be encouraged in order to ensure that every employee meets his or her targets thus ensuring that there are no duties left unattended. Thirdly, poor communication is a barrier in the implementation of the team structure because team structure requires clear communication of function.
For employees to work together in harmony and without any misunderstanding, proper communication is essential since it enables them to share ideas and even to work towards a similar goal. If there is any communication breakdown, the whole process flops. The team leader is therefore supposed to be a good communicator.
In order to overcome this barrier, employees need to be trained in the essentials of good communication. Kaplan University will therefore train them on how to practice good communication. They will be trained on making clear, complete, courteous, considerate, and credible communication. The process will also avoid instances of one-way communication.
According to Martindale (2011, p.32), one-way communication is a barrier to discussion and sharing of ideas during decision-making. The implementation of this process will therefore adopt a two-way communication model where information flows from and to both directions. This strategy will enable employees to feel that their ideas are well listened to and worth in the organization.
Finally, another barrier to the implementation of this process is the mechanistic nature of the bureaucratic model. According to Burns (1961, p.16), there exists a monumental barrier in overcoming the organic structure in the process of implementing a mechanistic structure. The bureaucratic structure mainly aims at gaining results rather than the process of getting those results.
This case is always a tremendous challenge since the employees may be resistant to this change. However, it can be overcome by setting clear roles for individuals and groups. In fact, Weber (1946) posits that there is respect for employees’ merit in a bureaucratic model of leadership. Kaplan University will set clearly defined roles for the employees.
Since most of the employees were turning over due to unachieved personal development, merit rewards will curb this problem thus implying that the problem of job turnover will be addressed. Promotions and rewarding will be based on meritocracy, which motivates other employees to work towards their career growth and development.
In conclusion, it has been affirmed here that one of the most demanding errands of a head is to renovate an organization, to reengineer, and streamline it towards realizing the growing needs of both the client and the marketplace. Leaders have a distinctive and crucial role to play when it comes to making sure that the organizations they head work in accordance with the set goals, policies, aims, and objectives.
Therefore, the strategy that the leader will use to ensure that employees meet this expectation as well as their demands determines the organization’s output. Surprisingly, as evidenced in the paper, most leaders do not meet the expectations of the employees, stakeholders, customers, and other publics.
However, as it has been seen here using Kaplan University as a case organization, changes in organization structure, leadership styles, and skills can overcome these challenges. Organizational leaders should also prepare adequately to overcome the challenges they face during organizational restructuring.
Burns, T., & Stalker, G. (1961). The Management of Innovation. London: Tavistock.
Foster, D. (2002). A Method of Comparing Follower Satisfaction with the Authoritarian, Democratic, and Laissez-faire Styles of Leadership. Communication Teacher, 16 (2), 4–6.
Martindale, N. (2011). Leadership Styles: How to handle the different personas. Strategic Communication Management, 15 (8), 32–35.
Pugh, D. (1990). Organization Theory: Selected Readings. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Raymond, E., & Miles, C. (1992). Causes of Failure in Network Organizations. California Word Press.
Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2007). Organizational Behavior. Pearson: Education Inc.
Theraja, P. (2008). Total Quality Organization Thru’ People (Part 16) Each one is Capable. Foundry, 10(4), 4.
Weber, M. (1948). From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. London: Routledge.