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The motive of this report is to carefully examine the factors and aspects which affect the smooth functioning of a business organisation, by studying the case of UK based company The Phoenix Group. The reason that this group is being studied is because the group underwent a significant organizational and structural change in 2018, whereby it acquired another business, Standard Life Assurance.
Question 1:Understanding Structure Culture and Leadership Through the Context of The Phoenix Groupt
The following section will explore the element of structure, culture and leadership in an organization in the context of the transition which The Phoenix Group is undergoing, in an attempt to critically analyse the wellbeing strategies it has in place. 1.1 Structural Change, Leadership and Wellness The most important change that is taking place in The Phoenix Group is largely structural in nature, as the company underwent transitional change by acquiring Standard Life Insurance and growing from an organization which had 800 employees to an organization which has 4300 employees. It is clear, then, that the leadership structure needs to be changed drastically in order to adapt to the structural change in the company (www.employeebenefits.com). In order to understand the structural change in the organization, one needs to consider the idea of organizational structure and leadership. The idea of organizational structure is essential to the well being of the employees and encourages the innovation in a given company (Smit and Trigeorgis, 2012). Burns and Stalker (1961) were the first ones to elucidate on two different kinds of structure in organization; mechanistic structure which operates in stable business environment and organic structure which operates in unstable economic environments. Generally speaking, organizational structure is understood from the perspective of action, organisational structure is understood from the perspective of establishing control, which aspires to encourage employees to behave in a desirable manner (Cardinal, 2001). A similar style is put forward by Robbins (2005), who identifies components like strategy, organization size, technology, environment and power control in the theory of structure of an organization. According to him, environment and power control are two important components of the structure of an organization. Essentially, the corporate environment that The Phoenix Group makes up an important part of the company structure. While there has been mention of the company introducing policies like the employee assistance programme, the presence of an on-site counsellor for the purposes of employee wellbeing and the company diversity and inclusion network, so far the company has not revealed the policy-orientation with regards to the structural reorganisation of the company. 1.2 Leadership and Wellness Mullins (2013) spoke of three styles of leadership; the authoritarian leadership style where the leader makes unilateral decisions about all the aspects of the company, the democratic style of leadership where the opinion and perspectives of all the employees are taken in order to arrive at a decision and the laissez-faire style of leadership, whereby the manager plays a minimal role to ensure that the work of the office is going well and regulates naturally, it won’t be practical for the company to take into account the opinions of all the 4300 employees. With relation to the leadership and wellness, Armstrong (2012) finds out that, in the UK, around 6.5 billion pounds are lost by companies annually because of the time people take off by being sick. It is obvious from this discovery, then, that companies need to take a more proactive stance when it comes to employee wellness. The Phoenix Group has a number of measures in place to ensure the wellness of their employees, like their plans to review the benefits plans. This needs to be evaluated to ensure that the new employees do not lose nay of their old benefits while at the same time, the older employees also do not get treated unfairly. The company has also decided to offer all of their employees the private medical insurance, which was previously an insurance which was only available to the highest three bands of employees in the five bands of employees that existed within the company structure. The management has declared that besides enduring the physical well-being of their employees, they are also wholly concerned with ensuring the mental well-being of their employees and some of those measures involve providing the employees with a counsellor who’d remain in the office at all times and the provision of an Employee Assistance Programme. 1.4 Culture and Employee Wellness The idea of culture exists very much within an organization as well and it would be wrong to assume that the structural underpinnings which come with culture do not influence the professional outcomes. This is reiterated by Inayat-Khan and Katzenbach (2010), who postulate that even though the professional environment is an informal one, the negative and positive reinforcements which work in the cultural environment work in the informal space too. Janićijević (2011) has defined cultural organization as a collective system within which exists certain norms, values and assumptions which has been developed through the mutual experiences of the members of the organization. This is important in the context of the employee groups in The Phoenix Group because of the integration of employees in the work place. The Phoenix Group has launched initiatives like the diversity and inclusion agenda which hopes to cater to the demands of all the different kinds of individuals who are working in the office. Two years before the acquisition of the company, The Phoenix Group started a Women in Finance Charter to ensure equal pay for all its female employees. Additionally, it is also launching programmes which would help people who come from different races and people of different sexualities to working together in an integrated fashion (employeebenefits.com). Another important cultural aspect in the professional environment which leads to employee motivation is employee engagement. Armstrong (2010) defines the concept of discretionary behaviour, which is highly productive employee behaviour, which occurs when the employee feels valued and encouraged in the professional environment. He describes employee engagement as highly important because more levels of employee engagement leads to a higher level of employee initiative, engaging in discretionary behaviour and tailoring their behaviour in accordance with the values that the company preaches. In 2018, the company replaced its older engagement survey for a cultural survey, which is better encompassing the cultural diversity of the employees. The earlier engagement survey showed great results, whereby the employee engagement index has been over 80%. It remains to be seen what the cultural diversity initiative brings post-2018. It is an important step for the company as The Phoenix Group grew from a 400 employee operation to a 4300 strong not gradually, but suddenly. In this scenario, it is important that there are concrete steps taken by the management and the leaders who are leading the teams in inducing right steps in the direction integrating the new employees and boosting the morale of the older employees in such a way that there is not antagonism between employees and teams. 1.3 Examining the Relationship Between Organizational Structure, Culture and Leadership The structure of an organization is intimately linked to the culture and leadership style of the organization. This is because the set of beliefs and assumptions which make up the informal culture of the organization is constructed and perpetuated by the managers who make up the formal structure of the organization (Schein, 2010). It is frequently misinterpreted that the organizational structure of a company influences the culture of a company, when the case is it is usually the other way round. The structure of an organization must be formed in accordance with the culture it is trying to perpetuate. Taking the specific example of The Phoenix Group, the cultural policies which have been initiated by the company calls for a revelation in the gender pay statistics in an attempt to be more transparent about the gender wage gap. However, it needs to be accompanied by concrete efforts by the company in order to make practical strides in closing the gender gap. Alternatively, if the company passes executive decisions in favour of closing the gender wage gap, it would not need to sign charters or display numbers, as the female workers in the organisation would be content with the action taken. In order to effect actual change, the organization needs to start with changing the structure of the organization, to effect the culture of the company. Such an action will be catalysed by the leadership of the company (Janićijević, 2013; Cameron and Quinn 2011). A good model of structural organization that the company can follow for this end is the Mintzberg model, which postulates that there are five different models of organization; namely simple model, bureaucratic model, professional model, adhocracy model and divisional model (Ali et al, 2021). Considering the three models, the bureaucratic model seems the most logical structure that can be followed by The Phoenix Group, which postulates for higher productivity with specialised division of labour. Such an end is going to be achieved by the effective division of labour through teams (Fells, 2000). The next section will elucidate on how the organisation can construct effective teams through the usage of heroes and relating them to the company.
Question 2: Building Effective Teams Through Motivation and Theories of Team Effectiveness in the Phoenix Group
The principle of building and maintaining an effective team are essential for the survival of an organization. The following section will discuss theories of team motivation and strategies for building effective teams and examine them in context of The Phoenix Group, in order to see which strategies are the most suitable for a company like The Phoenix Group. 2.1 Motivation Theory in the Context of The Phoenix Group Motivation is the key which drives the employees towards action in an organization and encourages them to perform better (Rashid and Sambasivan, 2003). The following section will discuss three motivational theories in the context of The Phoenix Group in order to see which theories are most suitable for operationalisation in the company. 2.1.1 Alderfer’s ERG Theory The Existence, Relatedness and Growth theory is a redefined theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, elucidated by Clayton Alderfer. According to the theory, individuals have three needs; existence based which are physical needs, relatedness which are need for recognition and growth needs which relate to the self-development of an individual (Caulton, 2012). Research has yielded that factors across these three categories, factors like higher wages, appreciation of good work and possibility of upwards mobility were big factors in motivating team members in organizations (Islam and Ismail, 2008). The Phoenix Group’s management needs to take initiatives to reward employees and not make pay cuts to streamline the operations. 2.1.2 McClleland’s Trichotomy of Needs This theory suggests that there are three motivators to human behaviour; attainment of power, achievement and affiliation (McClleland, 2005). The company has revealed that motivating employees remains one of its key concerns, but motivation through fair competition and association with teams in the organisation are initiatives that have not been mentioned (employeebenefits.co.uk). McClleland concluded that workplace motivations are far more powerful than general abstract motivations like self-actualisation, which Maslow elucidates (Steers et al, 2004). 2.1.3 Goal Setting Theory A self-explanatory theory, the goal setting theory is concerned with motivating employees to set personal goals through providing constant feedback and encouraging them to do better (Phipps et al, 2012). The company needs an alteration of its employee goals after the acquisition, as goals are the basic motivators which team members need in order to improve in their performance as a part of the organization (Hill et al, 2012). In the light of this, The Phoenix Group needs to set up a system of incentives which will aid the employees in concretely understanding a tangible set of incentives which they will get if they perform beyond their abilities. A good way for the Phoenix Group to combine Alderfer's theory in this regard is by offering a combination of financial renumeration and recognition, through systems like ‘employee of the month’ and such a strategy has been known to foster positive relations between employees as well (creativegroupinc.com) 2.2 Team Effectiveness in The Phoenix Group Team effectiveness can broadly be understood as the collective abilities of a groupM to meet certain pre-determined goals, in a manner whereby the general satisfaction of the team is improved and the mutual profit of the team is attained (Kozlowski and Ilgen, 2006; Salas et al, 2009; Marks et al, 2001). Team effectiveness in the context of The Phoenix Group can be approached in several ways. Kozlowski and Klein (2000) speak of team effectiveness as being a multi-level phenomenon, whereby the individual’s micro-assertions were put aside to understand groups of individual from a top-down approach. This approach was arrived to from the perspectives of scholars like Herman and Hulin (1972), James and Jones (1976) and Rousseasu (1978). Kozlowski and Klien (2000) understand team effectiveness to be centred around certain ‘constructs’, which are loosely specific aims of the organization. The more complex the aims of the organization, the more levels there are formed in the teams. For the purposes of The Phoenix Group, it will be better if teams are divided along the lines of clear aims and objectives to avoid confusion of roles and responsibilities with the other teams. Gilson and Mathieu (2006) look at team effectiveness from the perspective of empowerment and discover that the aspect of responsibility delegation and the freedom of teams to self-manage was directly related to the ability of the team to be more productive. A similar result was obtained by Leach et al (2003) and Kirkman et al (1999) who discover that when the structure of the corporate environment directly delegates significant responsibility to the teams who are working in the company, the teams are more likely to be productive and when tasks are delegated in a narrow and limited manner, productivity falters. Hence, independence in task management and delegation of significant tasks becomes an important aim for The Phoenix Group to fulfil. It is also a convenient aim, as the company’s employee numbers have significantly gone up and it would be profitable for the company to delegate tasks to teams rather than doing everything at the managerial level. Research by Cannon-Bowers et al (2007), Kozlowski and Bell (2013) and Mohammed et al (2010), reveal that the phenomenon of mental models which develop in a team when they are working in tandem towards a common goal and when they are going through similar experiences and challenges. Research also suggests that transactive memory systems are formed when team events take place and team leaders are born because of these events (Ibid). The Phoenix Group’s initiatives, in achieving this, has shown considerable advancement as the company has introduced several policies whereby the employees can participate in social events and sporting events in order to foster within themselves the feeling of camaraderie (employeebenefits.co.uk).
The document revealed that the transitionary nature of the company is a key factor in determining the changes that need to be made in the structure and team effectiveness strategies in the company. It was revealed that while the company has taken some impressive strides in improving the culture of the company in terms of increasing camaraderie and the physical and mental health of the workers, it needs to attempt a structural and leadership reorganisation of the company before it undertakes team effectiveness measures in the company. Additionally, the company needs to undertake motivational strategies like incentives to encourage team effectiveness. Total words (including ppt): 3037
Gaps and Recommendations
The following section will consist on reviewing existing literature on the practice of talent management in the contemporary practice from the perspective of understanding where are the potential areas of gaps. Based on the gaps that have been explored before and the ideas that have been put forward by previous researchers, this report will try to recommend potential initiatives that companies can take in order to 4.1 Talent Management: Issues in Understanding and Research One of the earliest methods used to understand the role of talent acquisition in a company was explored by Taylor in 1911. Follet explored the role of the group and teamwork in his watershed study about talent management in 1959 and his work proved to lay a tradition for the understanding of team in a corporate setting. In the sections elucidated above, a pertinent worry of talent management strategy is that there is a lack of clear definitions in organizational research. The process of issuing talent management strategies in the HR of a company involves differentiating clearly between the daily operations of the company and the specific talent acquisition part of the company (Vaiman and Vance, 2008). This is how HR can fruitfully impact the overall operations of the organisations (Lawler, 2008). The same issue is reiterated by Boudreau and Ramstad (2005) who argue that what current HR practices need is a ‘decision science’ whereby the idea of ‘talentship’ becomes integral to the HR practice. The issue with contemporary strategies are many, one of them being that there is a professional culture gap between the talent in a company and the incoming professionals, often there is a clash between the two when there is a matter of training. Research suggested that talent was trained only at an immediate basis, rendering them incapable of being able to look beyond short-term tasks (Whysall et al, 2019). 4.2 Arenas of Improvement in Talent Management: Critiques and Approaches The typical approaches in the strategic study of talent management can broadly be divided into three approaches. The first approach can be attributed to the regular practices of selection, training and recruiting of individuals. This approach is not very separate from the daily activities that an HR body does in a company (Hilton, 2000; Mercer, 2005). Apart from the hiring process evident in the official sites of the company, not much is available about these processes in Unilever. The interns talent management system is classified by four levels of classes below the Business Group President, whereby moving from one level to the higher level is a significant move for the internal employees of the company (Reitsma, 2001). However, recent literature on the system and its efficiency doesn’t exist. The second approach is concerned with the external aspects of talent management, whereby resourcing of talent from outside becomes and important issue (Kelser, 2002). While this approach appears very outward-looking, whereby the internal needs of the company is analysed carefully before staffing needs are analysed and before the recruitment and selection process can begin (Lermusiaux, 2005). The third approach is a more specialised view on conscious strategy on the acquisition of the top pool of talent in the area that the company specialises in, it is also referred to as ‘top-grading’ the company, by consistently seeking out the best employees in the field. This approach also consists of terminating employees who are below average and do not specifically contribute anything to the company in an exceptional fashion. Interestingly, in most of the literature which surveys this kid of approach, there is little discussion on the scope of training (Axelrod et al, 2002; Michaels et al, 2001). However, there is recognition of the fact that certain cultural and demographic factors may make certain individuals low value but different demographic and culture may highly elevate their values (Gandossy and Kao, 2004; Romans and Lardner, 2005). 4.3 Recommendations As elucidated before, there is not much research about how the company Unilever approaches its talent management strategies. The internal and external recruitment of the company is done using the tool of VURV, which is a service for large scale companies to efficiently recruit individuals and eliminate any wasteful hours between work in order to organise effective teams (Rajan, 2015; baselinemag.com). Peoplelink is the mechanism which takes care of the communication part of the recruitment process and in terms of the outside recruitment, the company Accenture is responsible for large scale hiring (Rajan, 2015). As elucidated by the literature and the available sources on the talent management processes of the company Unilever, it is evident that much is left to be desired. The Four Acres program of the company concentrates on developing the talents of the upper levels of the company, at the managerial level. However, improvement of the professional and technical skills of the subordinate levels of employees are also just as important. Recently, Unilever initiated an Artificial Intelligence powered marketplace called FLEX, which empowers the internal employees of the company to work on projects of varying scale so that the employees can successfully work on developing their professional skills (unilever.com). Thus, while Unilever’s internal talent management strategy is making strides, there needs to be more development in its external recruitment strategies. There is an urgent need for a new approach to the talent management strategy, as companies needs to acknowledge the fluid nature of skills. The AI based strategy for the application of jobs is a smart move on the part of large scale companies as it allows for the best individuals to acquire positions while making space for any skills which they may have acquired informally (financialtimes.com). Recognising the transferability of skills, among others, is one of the factors which they company needs to take into consideration in order to gain top talent and develop its talent pool internally.
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