USAA

The purpose of this case study is to study and research of a company. This case study will allow us to discover the company’s culture, reputation, how the employees handle ethical and unethical decisions. Ultimately these are vital things to research in a company. Also while doing research on this company we will dissect how USAA employees handle ethical, and unethical decision making. Decision making within the employees are essential because sometimes it can destroy a company’s reputation, and the amount of money lost after. While doing research on USAA it was clear that they provide an unique employee training session to help their decision making within the company.

USAA is a fortune five hundred company that has established an firm reputation since the company was founded. USAA is abbreviated for United services Automobile Association. Originally when the company was founded it was called the United States Army Automobile Association. It wasn’t until 1924 when the name was changed to United Service Automobile Association when commissioned officers from other military became eligible for membership.  At this time this was a quality innovation change for the company. This allowed the USAA to expand vastly. Quickly shortly USAA opened up offices in Germany, London, and England.  The company was formed off a meeting of twenty five Army officers to discuss a strong and reliable economical and auto insurance.

As stated you can see why USAA is highly recommended, and why it is arguably one the best all-around company’s. There are many reasons we can justify to state why USAA is so great. One of the main components that were appropriate to take into consideration is their organizational culture.  The culture requires some specific qualities that are abide by the USAA standard. It’s an equal opportunity and affirmative, it allows an employer to give consideration on applicants, no matter the race, color, nationality, religion, or sex. This brings a dynamic piece to the company because their staff is diversified. USAA align with the standard with the perspective of an ethical decision because the bond and relationship the employees of USAA have is remarkable. They enter training together, and they change people’s lives as well. An employee of USAA making an ethical decision would take a lot of time of pondering because the reputation of the company is very vital relationship as whole company.  Majority of USAA employees have some sort of army personnel previous. The employees face an intense unique training process. During this process the employees learn the perspective of the customers they serve. The training is essentially a boot camp in other words. While undergoing the training they are given strict orders, and heavy gear to wear. This training is vital because it allows the employees to get a sense of how important their job is. With this type of training it will be very difficult to make an ethical decision.

The training of the employees are serious, and the four ethical decision making plays a significant role in the process. One of the standard reasoning for this process is the boot camp. The training allow the future employees to understand the importance of what their job requires. I would require a training method similar because it prepares the employees in the best way possible. These training methods will allow the employees to make a better decision if the run into a situation where they have to make an ethical decision.  

Company’s need to take USAA employee training into consideration. USAA displayed why their employees have a great relationship and why they stick together. It is a good preparation because it prepares the employees in the best way possible to act accordingly when they face an ethical or unethical situation. USAA have displayed tremendous relationship between the employees and the company.

 Image result for usaa google

NORDSTROM: A RETAIL SUPERSTAR

by Sarah Van Wagnen

Ever since I was a teenager and began to fall in love with shopping, my mom engrained in me which stores are really worth your time and money. Nordstrom has always been at the top of our list. Quality products, good prices, and customer service are driving forces behind retail sales. Nordstrom’s customer service is outstanding, and they know how to market to multiple different buyers. These may sound like obvious ways to increase sales, yet Nordstrom has continuously outperformed other retailers. Their secret lies within their corporate culture; the customer is the center of all decisions. Looking deep into the companies organizational structure reveals an extremely effective management style, and how Nordstrom continues to successfully adapt to the changing market.

Likert’s Management System is a scale that identifies four different types of management styles. These were developed based off of three decades worth of studies regarding management styles and patterns from over 200 different organizations (“Likert’s Management System”). The scale compares concern for the job vs. employees within the workplace and ranges from high to low.

System 1 is defined as Exploitative Authoritative, this is the most rigid form of management. Top-down communication is emphasized and threats/fear are used often. Superiors have very low trust in employees to get their job done well. Teamwork is almost non-existent and employees should not discuss their ideas with anyone above them. Decisions can be made quickly and easily by management but this can have a very negative impact on team morale.

System 2 is Benevolent Authoritative, communication is also mainly flowing from superiors to subordinates. Rewards are the primary basis for motivation and workers receive little freedom to voice their thoughts. Lower level employees often feel little responsibility and this can lead to poor work ethic that contrasts with the organization’s goals. Competition negatively affects employees because they feel like they are not an important part of the system.

System 3, Consultative, accepts input from employees however decisions are still primarily made by management. Superiors have decent confidence in their employees and there is a good amount of teamwork. Communication flows both vertically and horizontally. Motivation is achieved through rewards and job involvement.  Lower level employees are consulted about decisions and feel more involved, leader to higher satisfaction and production.

System 4, Participative, allows for a free flow of communication between employees and management. Responsibility for achieving organization goals is spread equally throughout positions. There is high trust in employees to be successful. Teamwork is valued and communication is greatly encouraged to benefit the entire organization. Employees have large levels of participation in decisions which allows creativity and innovation to thrive. There is a high level of responsibility for all employees to achieve the organization’s goals. This empowers employees and gives them high levels of satisfaction. Managers use monetary rewards and employee participation in goal setting to drive motivation.

Likert’s system is a sliding scale and many organizations may fall between two systems. The system, according to Likert, contains a profile of organizational characteristics composed of: Leadership processes, Motivational forces, Communication process, Interaction-influence process, Decision-making process, Goal-setting or ordering, and Control processes (“Likert’s Management System”). A questionnaire was distributed to multiple different organizations and differing levels of employees/managers to determine the effectiveness of each system. Systems 1 and 2 proved far less effective than 3 and 4. Systems 3 and 4 were much more productive and had a higher chance of long-term improvement, low costs, high profit, and lower staff turnover (“Likert’s Management System”).

By looking at Likert’s scale a better understanding of Nordstrom’s structure can be studied. Nordstrom was founded in 1901 originally as Wallin & Nordstrom and was a store specializing in shoes with the mission statement that the “customer is always right”(Spector & McCarthy, 1999). As the store turned into two the sons of Nordstrom bought out Wallin and renamed the stores Nordstrom. The brothers struggled through the Great Depression but managed to keep their stores open and grow significantly during the 50’s and into the decades after. By 1965 Nordstrom was selling both shoes and apparel in a wide range of sizes to make sure the customer always got what they needed. In 1968 the company went public by third-generation Nordstrom family members and within the year reach 60 million in sales per year. It is now 2016 and the company is still under some control by the original family. In the company’s 2015 annual report they reached a record of 14.1 billion in net company sales (“Nordstrom Company Review”). Nordstrom now has 347 stores in 40 states and Canada, as well as 215 Nordstrom rack locations, and 3 online websites available to 96 countries (“Nordstrom Company Review”).

Analyzing Nordstrom’s work management and policies reveals why they are now one of the most profitable and loved retailers in the country. Nordstrom has continually strived to be nothing less than number 1 in customer service. The foundation for how they do this includes; empowered employees, employees who act like business owners, a supportive management structure, and a mystique for heroic acts (Spector & McCarthy, 1999). Employees are actually fully entitled to do whatever it takes to have a satisfied customer. The fact that each employee has authorization to do this is comparable to going into a small business, you don’t have to jump through hoops to talk to who is in charge if you aren’t satisfied. Each store has a wide range of sizes to make it easier for the sales team to have a happy customer and find what they need. Managers ensure their team is fully equipped with merchandise. When an employee shows an incredible act of customer service they are rewarded and encouraged by their managers.

It is rumored that Nordstrom’s employee handbook is only one sentence long, but is that true? The answer is mostly; when an employee is hired they are given a card that reads:

nordstroms-employee-handbook-1

However, even though it is true they hand these out to new employees, any company has a multitude of legal rules they must abide by. When it comes to their employees on the other hand, they really do give them great trust. Their goal is to hire nice, capable people and empower them to use their judgement (Solomon, 2014). By doing this they allow their employees to use their power to treat customers in the best way possible.

NordstroNordstromInvertedPyramid-BoostBusiness-CustomerService-JasonForrest.pngm actually has the complete opposite structure of most traditional companies. They use an inverted pyramid company structure with customers and sales people at the top and the executive team at the bottom. Every decision made by upper level employees is to support the sales staff and satisfy the customer. Nordstrom has an incredible return policy and any employee can give full refunds with no questions asked (“Nordstrom Customer Service”). Anyone on the sales floor can also help any customer, even if they are shopping in a different department. All managers must start on the sales floor so they know what the customer firsthand, Nordstrom only promotes from within (Spector & McCarthy, 1999). Buying is also focused around specific tastes of the customers, within each region there is a buyer who concentrates on a few stores to reflect the style of the area (Spector & McCarthy, 1999). Not only does Nordstrom love their customers, but they respect their employees.

As an organization Nordstrom would most directly fall into Likert’s system 4 Participative style of management. Communication flows freely between employees and managers, top advisors frequently ask the sales staff for recommendations. Usually most of the responsibility is on higher up employees but Nordstrom is true to the participative style of management and actually gives a lot of trust to their sales teams since they work most directly with customers. When it comes to customers, employees are always allowed to get innovative with making decisions when it comes to an unhappy customer. That could simply be a refund, finding something new for them, or going above and beyond to fix the problem to make sure they will shop at Nordstrom again. Nordstrom also uses monetary rewards and goal setting to create happy employees. They offer a merchandise discount ranging from 20-33%, medical coverage, an employee-matched retirement plan, and more (Nordstrom). Sales associates are paid by commission so that they can earn more the better they are with customers. Even though it is commission based the retirement plan is profit-sharing revenue which progresses over the employee’s first 7 years and encourages loyalty and motivation (Spector & McCarthy, 1999).  Goals are set frequently and the best sales associates receive the 33% discount by having great customer service and exceeding their goals.

Nordstrom does an outstanding job of applying participative management. There’s a reason Nordstrom is killing it at the retail game. For one part their customer service is outstanding, and they know it is thanks to their employees. They are picky about hiring nice people and have no problem doing what it takes to have a happy customer, and that’s what keeps people coming back (Lutz, 2014). The Ellen show proved this with a hilarious prank where Ellen had a customer have a secret camera and video tape the sales associate while Ellen had the customer say and do a bunch of weird things. The employee took it in full stride and laughed with the crazy customer while remaining nice and helpful the entire time, she even enjoyed herself (“Ellen’s Hidden Camera’s”). Nordstrom has been dedicated to making service one of their greatest selling points, and it won’t change anytime soon (Shoultz, 2015). By empowering their front-line employees to give feedback on what customers want the entire organization stays on top. It takes no special skills to have the lowest prices but the companies that are thriving make decisions about how they want to run their business and then perform them everyday (Shoultz, 2015).

Autonomy and standards with employees creates “customer service magic” (Solomon, 2014). Through the freedom to act alone employees are empowered to benefit the customer because they have the ability to actually help them. By training all Nordstrom employees with the standards that the customer always comes first, the company reaps the benefits. Nordstrom Rack was created to satisfy customers who could not always afford top of the line prices but still loved Nordstrom’s quality. They reached out to a whole new consumer including mainly young people who will hopefully grow into shopping at Nordstrom stores instead of just Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom is also at the forefront of e-commerce, with 3 billion in sales and a 21% increase over the past year (“Nordstrom Company Review”). Workers even use the Nordstrom pinterest page to merchandise their stores, and it is even now possible to buy items featured on their instagram (Lutz,2014).

For companies moving into the future, the most successful will be customer-led (Swerdlow, 2015). Going forward all retailers must organize operations around a customer based philosophy if they wish to grow, like Nordstrom already has. Many companies have announced going “omnichannel”, a multichannel approach to sales, (such as Nordstrom) which is very important to today’s consumer. Everything is moving online to a multitude of channels and companies have to keep up. With so many options for today’s consumer, customer satisfaction is a huge differentiator for where people will shop, because if they have a bad experience they can always go somewhere else.

Other organizations could learn a lot from Nordstrom’s management and leadership style. They allow their employees to act in the best interest of the consumer and therefore the company. Nordstrom’s founding principle is to put customers first, and when employee’s are trusted to do this they feel empowered. Front-line workers are the one’s closest to the customer and that is why Nordstrom uses the inverted pyramid structure, to put the focus on helping employees satisfy the consumer. When companies allow employees to participate and feel important this will transfer directly to making the customer feel important, which is the driving force behind the survival of the company. In today’s society organizations have to evolve to fit the changing needs of the consumer, from online shopping experiences to how they feel when they walk in the store. For Nordstrom, the number 1 goal is capturing the consumer’s attention within 13 seconds, and keeping it with outstanding customer service. Having happy employees and customers will not only create a better working world, but a better future for any company.

 

 

References

Ellen’s Hidden Cameras at Nordstrom! [Video file]. (2014, October 13). Retrieved                    from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV90Q_b7v-k

Likert’s Management System. (2016). Retrieved from                                                                https://managementstudyguide.com/likerts-management-system.htm

Lutz, A. (2014, October 8). Nordstrom’s simple strategy for beating everyone else                 in … Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/nordstroms-business-            strategy-2014-10/comments.rss

Nordstrom Company Review & Annual Report. (2015). Retrieved from                                               http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/nordstrom-company-review

Nordstrom Customer Service. (2016). Retrieved from                                                                http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/customer-service

Schoultz, M. (2015, December 11). What makes Nordstrom’s marketing strategy                  different? Retrieved from http://www.sailthru.com/marketing-blog/written-nordstrom-marketing-strategy-their-difference-maker/

Solomon, M. (2014, March 15). Take These Two Steps To Rival Nordstrom’s                           Customer Service Experience. Retrieved from                                                                  http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/03/15/the-nordstrom- two-part-customer-experience-formula-lessons-for-your-business/#610ccf9e2335

Spector, R., & McCarthy, P. (1999). The Nordstrom way [PDF]. Ej4.

Swerdlow, F. (2013, October 24). Building the retail organization of 2023. Retrieved                        from https://nrf.com/news/building-the-retail-organization-of-2023

 

The Human Relations Behind Apple

Paris (Париж)
Photo Credit: staticseekingalpha.a.ssl.fastly.net

By Reagan Wheeler

The purpose of this case study is to show the Human Relations Approach of Apple Inc. This study will discuss how the company’s personal approach to human relations has helped them grow. It will also look at the company’s unique approach to employee training and how it could help other companies grow by also using the strategy.

The Human Relations Approach is the idea that employees are more motivated to do work when they are given praise, a feeling of achievement or accomplishment, when they feel like they belong, and are given financial reward (Human Relations…, n.d.). If a worker views their work to have significance and is encouraged to be active and productive then the quality of his or her work will be higher. The theory also states that people want to be apart of a group that is supportive and wants to bring growth to its members (Perry, 2011). This is a very important type of management to have in an organization. The relationships between employees and employers and co-workers are essential when it comes to getting things done. This is how business works. If there were no positive human relations then projects wouldn’t get done, new ideas wouldn’t be formed and there would be no motivation. The workplace needs to be engaging and stable and human relations brings this into that space. It is crucial to give employees the satisfaction of their work being done well and that it is valued. This increases their motivation and productivity. When the employer recognizes the value and needs of an employee it goes a long way. The building of relationships needs to be active inside of an organization because they bring motivation and creativity. When employees build relationships inside the workplace they begin to communicate with each other, which then brings out new ideas in which a company cannot survive without (Petryni, n.d.). The general atmosphere in an organization and the attitude of the management usually determines the performance level of its employees. If an employee can’t form relationships or friendships then work becomes a drag. Humans naturally want to build relationships with one another because that’s what makes us happy. If employees are building friendships with one another then the atmosphere will be happy and inviting, resulting in productivity. When co-workers build relationships with each other they are more successful in their position. Human relations are important because relationships stem communication and communication brings forth success. Communication is the main component of a positive work environment (Kumar, n.d.).

Apple Inc. is the well-known company that sells many of the electronics the world uses today. A few of these well-known products are the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac computers. Apple’s current mission statement is, “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple had reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.” It was changed a lot from the original mission statement given by Steve Jobs. His statement was, “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind (Ivestopedia, 2015).” Job’s saw his company as a tool to better mankind all together and now, Apple sees the products as a way to advance and sees them as the purpose of the company (Investopedia, 2015).

I am analyzing the employee training aspect of Apple Inc.. Apple does not train their employees or provide training for them. There is training available to them but they have to do it themselves on their own time. Apple does not have a program they created themselves for their employees. The company wants their employees to develop their skills on their own and be self-reliant. To encourage their employees to do this, Apple rewards them financially. If he or she can contribute something great to the organization then they will get stock grants. Apple calls it, “an opportunity for wealth creation that you will have a nice retirement if you can reach your own individual accomplishment (Admin, 2013).” Apple wants agility to be the most important in the company. Employees are always going from one project to the next and must be able to switch focus quickly. They must be thinking about the next big thing as soon as a project is done. The company has many teams working on one project at a time. Each team is competing to win with their idea or product. The team with the best result will be chosen as the winner to carry out their idea. To help along the process of each team, there are two meetings held. The first is held to have general, realistic discussion on the ideas for the project. The second meeting is held to hear out anything and everything anyone on the team has to say. The employee training aspect of Apple Inc. works well for them. It pushes their employees to be the best they can be since they do not receive any training and are forced to rely on themselves. This trains them to always be prepared to learn new things and use them. This approach to employee training is how Apple brings out creativity in their employees (Admin, 2013).

Other companies could learn from this example of employee training. If other companies begin to encourage their employees to train themselves then the creativity within the company could start to flourish. At first, the employees might be a little worried and nervous because they will not have the direct instruction of training they are used to, but then they can begin to find the ideas and skills within themselves that they might not have recognized before. I think this approach could give companies a sense of confidence. If the employees are confident then company as a whole will be too. Confidence would also increase human relations between all the workers and bring forth new and innovative ideas.

 

References

Admin, B. (2013). HR Strategy at Apple Make Their Employees Creative and Innovative. Retrieved November 02, 2016. http://management-training-guru.com/2013/12/hr-strategy-at-apple-make-their-employees-creative-and-innovative/

Apple. (n.d.). Retrieved November 02, 2016. http://www.apple.com/

Human Relations Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved November 02, 2016. www.oxfordreference.com.

Investopedia. (2015). Apple’s Current Mission Statement. Retrieved November 02, 2016. https://www.scribd.com/doc/296498701/Apple-s-Current-Mission-Statement-Investopedia

Kumar, S. (n.d.). Importance of Human Relations in Work Place. Retrieved November 02, 2016. www.linkedin.com.

Meyer, P. (2015). Apple Inc. Organizational Structure: Features, Pros and Cons. Retrieved November 02, 2016. Panmore.com.

Perry, G. (2011). Human Relations Management Theory Basics. Retrieved November 02, 2016. www.business.com.

Petryni, M. (n.d.). The Importance of Human Relations in the Workplace. Retrieved November 02, 2016. smallbusiness.chron.com.

Under Armour: A Team and its Captain

By: Tyler Starr

There are very few companies that have grown as fast as Under Armour has in recent history. From C.E.O. Kevin Plank starting the company in his grandmother’s basement in 1995, He rapidly transformed his ideas for athletic wear into one of the biggest and most well-known brand names of the current generation. Since going public with the company in 2005 there has been a 900% growth in the company’s worth and they continue to be on the front lines of innovation in the sports world. The purpose of this case study is to look at the managerial structure that is used by Under Armour to keep the company growing at its current pace and how Plank uses Situational Leadership Theory to keep all of his employees motivated and happy about what they can do for the company.

protect-this-house
Photo Credit: http://www.footwearonlineus.com

Situational Leadership Theory

Situational Leadership Theory plays a big role in how the company is run when it comes to Under Armour. Situational Leadership Theory states that there are four different types of leaders a person can be. The most appropriate style of leadership is based on your employees’ willingness and commitment (C.O.C., 2016). The first style of leadership is Directing. This style is used most when the employees have little ability to do the task at hand and also are not committed to getting it done. The leader has to walk them through the process and watch over them at all times. The second style is called Coaching (C.O.C., 2016). This style is used when your employees have a very high commitment to get the task done but they do not possess the ability to do it themselves. This style promotes much more two way communication within the organization and allows the employees to give ideas. The third style of leadership is called Supporting. This style is useful when your employees have the ability to do the job, but they do not have the drive or the commitment to the cause to do it (C.O.C., 2016). With this style, the leader allows the employees to complete the task without his help but he maintains consistent contact with them to make sure they follow the correct process and get the job done the right way. The fourth style of leadership is the Delegating style of leadership. With this style of leadership, the leader has trusted employees that not only have the ability to complete the tasks at hand, but they have the drive and commitment to take on the responsibility (C.O.C., 2016). This is the most fully developed style of leadership that allows for a business to begin to grow.

The next aspect of Situational Leadership Theory is the maturity level of the leader. This is rated on a scale of M1-M4 (Hersey, 2010). The level that a person receives on this scale will, in a way, dictate the stage that they can get to when it comes to style. The M1 level, is when a person cannot be held responsible for completing tasks on their own. They feel comfortable helping the group get things done but are not able to be trusted with their own tasks. The M2 level is when the initial period of learning is over and they are still unable to perform the skills that are necessary to complete the tasks at hand (Hersey, 2010). This level of maturity is still not responsible for the completion of tasks. M3 maturity is when a person can begin to climb into a position of authority within an organization (Hersey, 2010). This is the level where a person is finally experienced enough at their skill where they can be held responsible for completing tasks on their own and will do them. They do, however, still lack the willingness and confidence to take on big responsibilities. The final level of maturity, M4, is when a person has the experience, confidence and willingness to take responsibility for, and complete tasks all on their own (Hersey 2010).

The third aspect of Situational Leadership Theory is how well a leader can motivate his people based on their competence of the leaders goal and how committed they are to helping him achieve that goal. They can be low or high in either competence of the goal or commitment to the cause. Obviously a leader would like to see all of his people be high in both categories. If a leader has employees working for him that don’t fully understand what the goal of the organization is and they are not very committed to getting the job done, then there will be very little progress made on any kind of projects or decisions that are to be made. If the people of the organization are high in both of the categories then it takes a lot of the stress off of the leader to do a big portion of the work. His employees know what the mission is and they want to get the job done so they will take the responsibility to make sure it is done right (Hersey 2010).

Critical Analysis

When asked to think of a company that has continually been on the front lines of innovation in the sports world during my generation, Under Armour is one of, if not, the very first brand that comes to my mind. In 1996, based out of his grandmother’s garage, Kevin Plank revolutionized the way that athletic apparel was supposed to look and feel and, in a way, ushered in a new generation of sports technology (UA Inc, 2016). He was the Special Teams captain for the football team at the University of Maryland and he was getting extremely frustrated with the performance of his cotton t-shirt that he would be wearing under his pads. He knew that there had to be something that would work better. He came up with a moisture wicking compression shirt that would keep an athlete dryer, cooler, and lighter than any cotton t-shirt could. The innovative shirt was called #0037 and would one day be known as “Heat Gear”. In 1997, Plank made his first team sale and the business, and the idea, were off on a fast track for success (UA Inc, 2016).

In recent years the company has had success in almost any major sport that is played around the world. Their list of sponsored athletes that represent their brand includes some of the biggest names in American sports. Some of the names on this list include Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth, and Bryce Harper. They are also set to take over as the sponsor for all of the uniforms worn in Major League Baseball in the 2020 season when their current contract with Majestic apparel ceases to exist (Rovell, 2016). They are always looking for the next star to come up the ranks so they can add them to the, already impressive, Under Armour team.

When it comes down to the overall success and growth of Under Armour as a company, it can be linked back to the leadership and guidance of Kevin Plank. He has had a very solid plan of attack at how to keep the company at top of the industry and how to keep the company moving forward. He has a very unique style of leadership that involves lots of sports metaphors to keep the employees motivated to do the absolute best job that they can (Blazek, 2015). He says that have motivated and driven employees is the most important thing because you need drive to have the will to come up with good, new ideas all the time.

To keep communication open with his employees he has a board of nine directors that have weekly meetings to discuss all of the company related subjects that are important at that time (Board, 2016). The people on the board have almost just as much decision making ability as Plank himself. Each one of these directors then has another small group of employees that work for them. They have these same meetings with those people and on down the ranks. This gives employees of any rank the opportunity to share their ideas and have those ideas make it all the way to the top of the company (Board, 2016). To ensure that the decision of who is on the board of directors isn’t a bias choice, a group of employees that are not on the board vote to elect who will sit with Kevin Plank at the highest level of the company (J, 2012).

Plank says that he wanted to run his company like a big sports team (Blazek, 2015). Everyone playing their own respective role that allows the entire team to achieve greatness. The style in which he leads his company is shown in the ads for the brand. The first slogan that the company used was “Protect This House”. This was very symbolic in the way that it was done, using star players from his alma mater, Maryland University, as the actors. This advertisement showed that the company had its roots in Maryland, and more importantly America and that was where they wanted to continue to be an innovative brand.

Kevin Plank has shown that he is in the fourth level of all three aspects of Situational Leadership Theory. He has taken a delegation style of leadership when it comes to the way that the company is run and we see this by the structure of the management. This is shown with the board of nine directors that Plank talks to when making choices. He doesn’t directly communicate with the people multiple steps under him. Although, they still receive the information that the C.E.O. wants them to receive, they do not attend his meetings. Another way that we see the delegation style of leadership is in the way that his employees make decisions without always being watched over. They have shown that they have the ability to take on responsibilities on their own and they also have the motivation and commitment to get them done.

Plank also possesses level four managerial maturity. We know this because he began the company all on his own, from the ground up. Being employee number one has a big impact on his ability to complete tasks. He has shown that he can take the responsibility of any task that would be necessary to further the company and grow the name of the brand. The third category of Situational Leadership Theory is not as directly related to Kevin Plank, as much as his interview and employee selection process. He chose employees that, when hired, would perform tasks on their own that would benefit the company. This also shows in the way he puts employees in the best position for them to succeed. Things such as when he moved, already C.O.O. Kip Fulks into the head position of the footwear department on top of his current position (McNew, 2015). He had multiple innovative ideas in the footwear area and, after being put in a position where he could focus the majority of his time on footwear, the department saw a 50% increase in revenue during the next fiscal year (McNew, 2015).  To allow himself to properly perform in the delegation style of leadership and to have level four managerial maturity, his employees must have high commitment to the cause and a very high ability to take on major responsibilities.

Conclusion

Under Armour is an extremely innovative brand of sports apparel and equipment. They consistently stay on the front lines of innovation and are consistently coming out with the next big thing in the sports world. A large amount of their success can be attributed to the incredible leadership of C.E.O. and founder of the company, Kevin Plank. Through utilizing aspects of the Situational Leadership Theory, Plank has turned an idea that he had while in college into an absolutely revolutionary brand name across the globe. With the managerial structure that Plank has put in place, the brand should continue to stay on the front lines of innovation and be one of the biggest names in apparel.

References

Avtgis, T., Liberman, C., Rancer, A. (2012). Organizational Communication: Strategies for Success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

Blazek, K. (2015, September 15). Inspirational Leadership Style: Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.boothco.com/360-feedback-resources/inspirational-leadership-style-under-armour-ceo-kevin-plank/

 

Board, O. (2016, October 27). Org Chart Under Armour. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.theofficialboard.com/org-chart/under-armour

 

Charleston, C. O. (2016). The Situational Leadership Model – College of Charleston. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://greeks.cofc.edu/documents/The Situational Leadership Model.pdf

 

Hersey, P. (2010). Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.leadership-central.com/situational-leadership-theory.html#axzz4On8NZQtc

 

McNew, S. (2015, January 20). 3 Reasons to Love Under Armour Inc’s Management. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/01/20/3-reasons-to-love-under-armours-management.aspx

 

  1. (2012, April 27). Organizational Structure. Retrieved October 29, 2016, from http://internstratmgmt.blogspot.com/2012/04/organizational-structure.html

 

Rovell, D. (2016, October 17). Under Armour, Fanatics win MLB uniform deal. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/17817780/under-armour-fanatics-supply-uniforms-mlb-2020

 

Under Armour, Inc. – Lead Director. (2016). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://investor.underarmour.com/director-lead.cfm

 

UA Performace. (2016). Under Armour, Inc. – History. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.uabiz.com/company/history.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARM: Human Relations Approach

By: Kenzie Fischer

The Human Relationarms Approach to management is defined as “a management approach that promotes focusing on meeting the emotional needs of the worker with less focus on production.  It is based on the idea that employees are motivated not only by financial reward but also by a range of social factors (i.e. a sense of belonging, feelings of achievement). This theory holds that attitudes, relationships, and leadership styles play an important role in the performance of an organization (Human Relations Theory, 2016). The human relations approach theory began development in the early 1920’s. At that time, productivity was the primary focus of business. Elton Mayo, Fritz Roethlisberger, and William Dickson were the researchers who conducted the Hawthorne Studies.

The Hawthorne Studies is a series of experiments that were conducted to determine the effect of lighting on productivity at the Western Electric Company’s Hawthorne Plant. The plant workers were separated into either the experimental group or the control group. The experimental group assembled the coils in varied lighting situations, while the control group assembled the coils under normal lighting conditions. Manipulations during this experiment included additional work breaks, raises based on the worker’s performance, and altering work schedules. Mayo and his team conducted several variations of this experiment to figure out why workers in the experimental group were more productive than the workers in the control group. They soon found that the reason for increased production was due to the attention given to the workers by the experimenter and their supervisors. His studies found that if the company and/or managers took an interest in employees and cared for them, it had a positive effect on their motivation. When managers were interested in their employees, they felt more appreciated and valued. Mayo identified the importance of the ‘human factor’ in organizations. This meant that workers were now recognized as having social needs and interests (Human Relations Theory and People Management, 1953).

Mayo believed that an employee’s need for supportive work relationships was a result of losing close attachments they shared with family and friends. Therefore, their unfulfilled needs must be fulfilled by the organization. Because of this, Mayo believed that one of the most important function was to provide spontaneous cooperation; the fostering of relationships and teamwork (Organizational Communications: Strategies for Success, 2012). This perspective focuses on relationships as opposed to production. It was eventually found that organizations that used the human relations approach usually experienced lower productivity because the main focus was the workers’ psychological well- being. It was recently found in a re- analysis of the original data found that managerial discipline, financial incentives, and increased break times significantly predicted worker productivity.

Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) is a company of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architectures for computer processors. ARM develops the architecture and licenses it to other companies, who design their own products that implement one of those architectures. It also designs cores that implement this instruction set and licenses these designs to different companies that incorporate those designs into their own products. ARM was founded in 1990 and now has offices around the world. ARM’s main technology is its microprocessor. Technology from ARM is used in 95% of the world’s mobile headsets, and in over a quarter of all electronic devices including computers, smart phones, digital cameras, and televisions.

ARM has a very diverse workforce. 2,050 employees work across 30 sites in 15 different countries. ARM is a business focused on innovation. This innovation comes from the entire business, not just its research team. ARM relies on its people to achieve this innovation. The business is focused on global learning and development, talent management, and appropriate rewards in order to develop and maintain the skills its employees need. Due to technological advances, the organization is constantly changing. Managing change requires effective employee engagement. ARM defines engagement as, “Commitment to the job, manager, team and organization which drives effort and intent to stay, resulting in improved performance and retention” (ARM, 2016). Collaborating with other employees allows them to develop practical solutions to problems. Research has shown that a 10% increase in employee commitment can lead to a 6% increase in employee effort. Ensuring high levels of motivation within its employees is vital to ARM’s marketing strategy. Teamwork is one of the most important factors within its innovative environment.

Motivation is the level of commitment an individual has to what they are doing. The motivation theory focuses on how individuals behave in the workplace. By understanding what motivates employees, it is possible to create a fun and efficient workplace. It is also important to ensure that employees are happy at work. This will create satisfied employees who will work with more enthusiasm and focus on the goals of the company. Research has found that about 75% of an organization’s employees are neither engaged nor disengaged. Considering ARM’s description of how engagement can drive performance, this means that, if more employees were engaged, the organization could expect improved performance. Motivating people does not only benefit the individual, but the business as well. A variety of values help to build ARM’s approach to motivation. These include respecting and involving others, being proactive, and adopting a positive attitude in order to solve problems. For example, ARM employees work in teams where they are encouraged to produce solutions to problems. This not only helps the business, but also their personal development.

ARM explained how the company gains employee engagement through various elements of its HR strategy of team working. Buying into and sharing common values supports a collaborative approach to innovation. Sharing knowledge helps to develop relationships and networks within the business and leads to the creation of new ideas. Developing talent through training to improve expertise benefits individuals but also helps to ensure ARM will have key skills despite global shortages in some areas. Providing opportunities for individuals to grow into new roles also supports succession planning for future leadership. Various reward systems recognize individual and team effort. ARM provides employees with opportunities for fulfill needs such as esteem and self- actualization through interesting and challenging work.

Teamwork within ARM provides employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas across the entire organization. Open and honest communication is key to team work. ARM has an ‘open door’ policy where employees can go to managers at any time with questions or issues. This supports the spotlight on information and knowledge sharing. ARM uses employee engagement as a key factor in motivation. This is a satisfier as employees begin to develop a genuine relationship with their teammates. A number of other motivators are used at ARM, such as employees receiving shares in the company as well as bonuses based on how well the company is doing.

Mayo’s beliefs are parallel to ARM’s focus on developing its employees as part of its business strategy. Employees at ARM work best within learning and development teams. Managers at ARM have responsibility for motivating individuals and their teams. Important elements of this include: 1. Communicating and explaining the ARM goal, values, and strategy to all team members so everyone is working at the same level. 2. Providing appropriate training and induction for new employees as well as coaching for all in order to develop skills, confidence, and self- reliance. 3. Carrying out one- to- one meetings and employee reviews to assess performance and set personal and team objectives. 4. Putting in place succession planning for the team and manager roles to ensure long term performance. Personal development is crucial to the HR strategy at ARM. Employee reviews allow the individual to reflect on the contributions they made while giving feedback and support.

ARM’s strategy places great importance on employee engagement to create a motivated team. This is crucial given the innovative and highly skilled nature of the company. By emphasizing training and development, open communication, and a fun approach, ARM has created a productive and committed global workforce.

 

 

 

 

 

References

Avtgis, T. A., Rancer, A. S., & Liberman, C. J. (2012). Organizational Communication: Strategies for Success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

(2016). Human relations theory – Oxford Reference. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095949990

Human Relations Theory and People Management. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from https://www.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/9805_039184ch02.pdf

Ltd., A. (n.d.). Home – ARM. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from https://www.arm.com/

 

Amazon and Its Employees

By Seth Ansell

 

This case study aims to analyze Amazon’s organizational relationship and how they structure communication between managers and employees. This case study reviews the Likert System 4 Management Approach model and attempts to identify which system Amazon uses, based on the company’s practices. This case study will also compare Amazon’s strategy to other similar competitor’s strategies. It will be discussed in detail whether this strategy seems to work for Amazon or if there is another strategy that the company could utilize instead.

There are many types of strategies and theories an organization can use to organize and structure itself. The Likert System 4 Management Approach describes four different types of management approaches that range from low to high concern for workers. The first system is the exploitative-authoritative type of management, which uses threats and fear to motivate employees within the organization. All communication within a company that uses this type of management is downward, employees under a manager can’t make suggestions to higher-ups. This system uses punishment to motivate workers. The communication that flows downward from managers is usually task based. This approach has high concern for task and low concern for the employee. System 2 is the benevolent-authoritative type of management which rewards employees when they complete tasks and uses punishments to motivate. While this system uses both punishments and rewards to motivate employees, it favors punishments. System 2 also mainly consists of downward communication but is more open to upward communication than the first system. Managers may rarely take subordinate’s suggestions seriously in this model, or the organization may say they allow upward communication just to appease employees (Avtigs, 2012).

System 3 of the Likert System 4 Management Approach is the consultative type. This manage approach uses rewards and punishment to motivate employees, and is more likely to favor rewards as means of motivation. This system is very open to upward communication and involves subordinates in the organization’s decision making process. Managers still have final say in the decision-making process, but subordinates still have a strong say within the organization. The final system is the participative type of management. This approach allows all upward communication and encourages subordinate involvement and input. This approach results in both high productivity and quality interpersonal relationships between subordinates and managers (Avtigs, 2012). Generally companies may not fall directly into one category, because the theory acts as a scale with organizations following somewhere between them (Dininni, 2011).

            Amazon started out as an online book store in 1995, but has evolved to be one of the biggest online retailer stores of all merchandise. In addition to being an online retailer giant, they are also known for online and technology services. They launched the Kindle e-reader, made their own tablet called the Kindle Fire, their own multimedia TV box system titled Amazon Fire TV, their own smartphone, and more. Amazon, like other tech giants, attempts to be innovative and produce unique groundbreaking services and products. This puts the company in direct competition with other online retailers and other innovative tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Amazon’s mission statement is “It’s our goal to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything at Amazon.com” (Pestleanalysis, 2016). Amazon tries to deliver the best experience it can to its customers, to the point where a very strict system of rules and policies is put into motion for Amazon employees. These set of policies sets Amazon between exploitative-authoritative system and benevolent-authoritative system on the Likert System scale.

Amazon has a very cutthroat corporate culture, were unlike other similar companies, employees are encouraged to harshly criticize each other’s decisions during meetings. It is encouraged to the point where Amazon’s internal phone directory has directions on how to send “secret feedback” to each other’s bosses (Kantor, 2015). This is an example of when upward communication is allowed in Amazon’s workplace culture. If it were not for this limited upward communication, Amazon would fit more closely to exploitative-authoritative system rather than in-between exploitative and benevolent.

Many employees at Amazon do not stay long unless they are very successful. If they are not superbly successful they are driven to quit or are outright fired. Amazon human resources calls it “purposeful Darwinism.”  Past employees said that they believed they had been let go unfairly for suffering from cancer, having a miscarriage, and other personal life crises. In one specific case, a woman was put on probation because Amazon claimed difficulties in her personal life was affecting her work goals. Her life difficulties were being diagnosed with breast cancer. Other employees were fired because their performance dropped after major negative life events and the company did not give the employees time to recover (Kantor, 2015).

The company also has started a project to learn how far it can push white-collar employees, sometimes bordering on the line of unacceptability. A past employee who worked on book marketing, said that “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” Part of Amazon’s success is due to its method of extracting everything it can from their work force. It does this differently than other companies like Google and Facebook. At first glance, Amazon’s office campuses look like Google’s and Facebook’s with dog-friendly offices, mainly young employees, and up-beat posters. When it comes to how they handle employees, Amazon doesn’t claim to make pleasing employers an important task. Amazonians aren’t motivated with on-site gyms, buffets, cash handouts, or other incentives. Instead Amazon embraces frugality with bare-bone decorations, and even having employees pay for their own company cell phone and company travel expenses. In addition to not being motivated by incentives, Amazon frequently uses fear to motivate its employees. Amazon ranks all their employees, and at the end of each year, the employees at the bottom are purged (Rosin, 2015). This strong use of fear rather than using rewards as motivation is a large part of the benevolent and exploitative-authoritative approach. Because the only incentive Amazon uses to encourage employees is a good pay, they rely almost all on fear as a tool of motivation.

Image result for amazon office
Example of an Amazon Corporate Office. Photo Credit: Czechleaders.com

 

Amazon not only pushes their white-collar workers to their limits, but many of their blue-collar workers in their shipping plants as well. There are a lot of policies in place to stop employees from doing certain things. For example, employees are not allowed to use any product on the warehouse floor that was sold from Amazon, this makes certain items like cosmetics and lipsticks not allowed. Amazon even has policies on foods allowed; water is the only drink allowed while at work and employees are not allowed to chew gum. In addition to strict on-the-job policies, Amazon has little tolerance for sickness. Some employees have said they got fired for being sick, Amazon stated that they didn’t disclose prior illness before being hired which their decision of firing them legal and ethical (Yarow, 2011).

Amazon also had an incident where their warehouse in Breinigsville would have ambulances and medical personnel on standby because it was so hot in the warehouse during the summer. The ambulances would take workers suffering from heat related injuries to the hospital. Amazon opted to keep the warehouse open and keep the workers working rather than closing for the extremely hot days. OSHA had received numerous complaints against the facility from harsh and unbearable working conditions. One worker stated that at least 15 people collapsed in one day. After a federal investigation was done on the company, temporary air conditioners were installed and later permanent air conditioners added. Employees of the facility were very pleased when air conditioning was installed. This shouldn’t take away from the fact that Amazon only installed the air conditioners after being federally investigated and called out by the press (Soper, 2012). This only solidifies the view that Amazon has low concern for their workers. It is obvious they have high concern for the task, by forcing employees to continue working while others were collapsing from the heat.

When looking at all the variables on how Amazon treats their employees, such as: low concern for worker health and safety, no sympathy or time for employees to recover from personal tragedies, making employees work to exhaustion in the heat, no direct rewards used as motivation other than salary, fear used as main motivator, restrictive worker policies, making employees constantly competing for un-achievable goals, and very little upward communication; Amazon could be seen as following either the exploitative-authoritative or the benevolent-authoritative Likert System Approach. While many other similar companies do not use this same approach, it may work exclusively for Amazon. As shown earlier by Amazon’s mission statement, they are extremely focused on the customer. They want to get their quality products to their customers as fast as possible. Creating a constant sense of urgency, fear, and strict rules may help keep the sense of resolve that is needed to force innovation and fast delivery service.

In fact, while many employees had negative things to say about their experience with being Amazon employees, others said that the company’s goal to strive for innovation through competition and constant pressure helped them grow as individuals or grow their career. Employees claim that they believe they work with some of the smartest and committed colleagues they have met. They credit their success and determination to Amazon’s relentless pushing of them to do better. That doesn’t change the fact that a large portion of employees still feel mistreated. Several lawyers in the Seattle area stated that they got consistent calls from employees or past employees of mistreatment from Amazon- usually for being pushed out due to performance related issues. One lawyer stated that while it is unfair, that does not mean that it is illegal (Kantor, 2015).

Amazon seems content to bring in a large number of new employees and utilize them until majority of them are burnt out, while retaining the super stars. In this regard, the benevolent-authoritative model will work for Amazon. If their goal is to always focus on bringing the best they can to their customers, they may burn out many employees in the process. As long as Amazon feels ethically okay with constantly cutting employees due to them burning out from being over worked, then this model is a good fit for Amazon. It may not seem like a good public relations move, now that the public has wind of how the employees are being treated. But Amazon may feel that quality and innovation results in better views of the company than what it would cost to slow down with better treatment for their employees.

Amazon may be coming around to changing their current organization culture to move away from the benevolent-authoritative style it seems to currently employ. Around a year ago, Amazon announced that they were improving their parental leave policy. This was around a month after other companies, like Adobe, Microsoft, and Netflix, had announced similar plans.  Amazon is now offering new mothers 20 weeks of paid leave and new fathers up to 6 weeks of paid leave. This may be a response to attempt to improve public relations after the New York Times had criticized the organization’s treatment of employees. It also could be a sign that Amazon is realizing that better treatment of employees may result in better work from their workers. It cannot be said indefinitely whether the move is for public relations, or if this is a start of Amazon changing their whole organizational structure (Greenberg, 2015).

Other companies can learn a lot from Amazon’s current situation. Another organization may see that would to have a high turnover rate for employees like Amazon to keep the workers constantly fresh and not “burnt-out,” but they could also learn a lesson from the backlash the company has received from the public. An organization that would like to follow a similar model to Amazon’s would probably want to find a median of putting pressure on your employees but also rewarding and keeping a positive image of the company to its employees.

 

Works Cited

Avtgis, T. A., & Rancer, A. S. (2012). Organizational communication: Strategies for success.
Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.
Dininni, J. (2011, May 20). Management Theory of Rensis Likert. Retrieved October 31,
2016.
Greenberg, J. (2015, November 2). Amazon’s New Parental Leave Policy Is Good-And Good
Kantor, J., & Streitfeld, D. (2015, August 15). Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a
N/A. (2016). Mission Statement Examples: Amazon & Starbucks. Retrieved October 31,
Rosin, T. (2015, August 17). 9 key issues with Amazon’s corporate culture. Retrieved
October 31, 2016.
Soper, S. (2012, June 03). Amazon working conditions improve with new air conditioning.
Retrieved October 31, 2016.
Yarow, J., & Kovach, S. (2011, September 20). 10 Crazy Rules That Could Get You Fired From
Amazon Warehouses. Retrieved October 31, 2016.

Organizational Socialization with AT&T

By: Torin Wetzel

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http://www.csc.com/global_alliances/alliances/112505-at_t

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of this case study is to examine the organizational socialization within the company AT&T. This concept of organizational socialization is a factor in most companies throughout the world. AT&T has within the last couple years, had some changes that has affected the organizational socialization for the employees. This changed the ways that current employees were training as well as new employees. The goal of the case study is to examine these changes and provide examples of the effectiveness.

Organizational Socialization is the process where individuals are learning the ropes of an organizations culture because of a new or changing role. Essentially, it is how an employee learns to fit in to his or her role with the organization.  This process included an employee understanding the organization as a whole, as well as the specifics that the job will entail. There are multiple steps for organizational socialization, starting with the anticipatory stage. The anticipatory stage is all of the prior socialization efforts related to the organization that were known by the newcomer prior to entering the organization. This can also be the knowledge that a current worker has of the new programs that may be set in the future which demand for organizational socialization. Newcomers are almost always subject to this stage because prior knowledge at all falls into the anticipatory stage. Information that you may know from the internet, friends and family, or media all falls within this stage. The second stage of organizational socialization is the encounter stage. The encounter stage is where employees start to be able to learn the ropes, like corporate training. Usually, a person cannot get enough knowledge in the anticipatory stage to be able to breeze through the encounter stage. The encounter stage involves learning from coworkers, teachers, and supervisors. The third and final stage of organizational socialization, according to the book Organization Communication: Strategies for Success is the metamorphosis stage. The metamorphosis stage is in which employees begin to accept and manifest organizational norms and become organizational insiders. This is time when employees are brought into the organization just as everyone else and seen as a coworker. Employees at this point have learned the necessary training and information needed to continue as part of the organization.

Organizational socialization is very important within a company. Companies need to make sure that every employee fits in and is ready to take on the tasks of the company. An employee out of place can be very detrimental to a company, especially a company that is trying to grow and expand. New employees and current employees can both be affected by this socialization. New employees need to learn the ropes and the culture of the organization. They need to learn how to act in the business place and how to work for the best interest of the organization. Current employees are affected by the organization as a whole taking a turn to new ideas. New technology or work environments can leave a current employee with some organizational socialization to work on. Being able to adapt to new ideas and formats is part of the socialization. Employee training of most kinds also fall into this category. Employees, whether new or current, need to be open to learning more about the organization and how they want operations to run. The employees that are more socialized with their organization are typically more satisfied, committed, and make more than others. Employees that are socialized well are also less likely to quit their jobs, and are more likely to build successful careers.

Organizational socialization promotes change in the workplace. The concept promotes people to be able to adapt and to be eager to learn new ideas and concepts.  While promoting possible change, it is interesting how organizational socialization can also add stability and unity. While employees may be coming and going from time to time, the operations of socialization are implemented to make sure that the main theme in the workplace and in the environment stays the same. Newcomers learn the ropes and lay of the land as people say, before they are welcomed as a coworker. This enables the organization to continue to conserve unity.

The company being analyzed in this case study is AT&T. AT&T stands for American Telephone and Telegraph. AT&T is a telecommunications conglomerate. AT&T is the second largest provider of mobile telephone services and the largest provider of fixed telephone services, and in the United States it also provides subscription television services through DirecTV. This statement regarding the company is on the about us page of their website, “At AT&T, we’re bringing it all together. We deliver advanced mobile services, next-generation TV, high-speed internet and smart solutions for people and businesses. That’s why we’re investing to be the premier integrated communications company” (att). AT&T is a huge company out of Texas that is always working to try to become the largest prover of mobile services in the world.

In this case study examination of the organizational socialization will take place within AT&T. This involves employee training as well as employee development and mentoring. The main reason behind this case study is the recent shift of the company that has left current and new employees with the task of completing new and vigorous training. New workers are being trained differently than they once were as the company is adapting and current workers are being told to adapt, or not be a part of the company anymore. This is a trait we have seen in case studies with other companies. If someone’s skills are no longer needed and are outdated in the company, even if they are liked, there services are to be terminated. It is a harsh reality. At AT&T there are at least giving the current workers a chance to stay with their current positions as long as they complete the required training. New software and new ideas make for changes with current employees and that’s exactly what has happened at AT&T. This is unique because training was needed for over 130,000 employees at AT&T. Another reason that it is unique is because it changes the dynamics of the company. The new employees are now taking the same training as the current employees in order to learn the new software and ideas. The question is if it will make more unity between workers or less. Organizational socialization is easier when the new group of employees are coming into a “freshmen” type role where they learn from the older employees. What happens when the new employees are learning the same information as current employees for the first time? The unity within the organization has to still be kept in check. AT&T does this with asking employees to buy into training. Many new employees are having to pay for some of their training and classes. This is a way to keep a feeling of initiation for the newcomers, thus keeping somewhat of level heads for the more seasoned workers.

“By 2020, AT&T has said 75% of its network will be controlled by software. To make this happen, the company has reorganized about 130,000 employees to tear down the walls between IT and network operations to move faster to release software. The company is shifting to a DevOps mode, a software development method that emphasizes collaboration between developers and other IT professionals. DevOps was pioneered by companies such as Netflix. It’s part of a big pivot for the company that will require employees to learn new skills such as software-defined networking architecture and protocols as well as how to apply cybersecurity in a highly virtualized environment” (King, 2015). Many companies in the past have taught small groups new software of this kind, but never such a massive group. To achieve this large goal, AT&T teamed up with Georgia tech and online education company Udacity to teach these skills. Online course and classroom courses are offered by AT&T. department leaders with AT&T say that employees at AT&T have great skills to bring to the table, but the goal of the training is to get them to be able to adapt to where the company wants to be in the future. In other words, the company wants its employees to be able to evolve as the company does without slowing down production.

There are multiple organizational socialization factors involved with AT&T’s process of “retooling” over 130,000 employees. The anticipatory stage will change regarding AT&T. People from the outside have heard of the huge reform that AT&T is involved with, and word of mouth travels fast. Articles in newspapers, and on the media show people of the complexities of this reformation. This is turn will leave possible new employees with different prior knowledge of the company gin into working at AT&T. It is not for the better or worse it is just different. They will know that many current employees are having to take and some pay for training classes in order to keep their job. They will also know that the training will be given to them prior to joining the company if it applies to their job. This is affect decisions in some ways and it is not clear in which direction.

The second stage of encounter will largely change with AT&T. Workers will encounter this new training whether they are new or current. This is a fact and it will be different than it ever has been before. The demeanor of current employees may also change, either for their good or bad and that will also affect how they treat new employees. The fact that new and current employees may be in the same training sessions may also change the organizations morale and demeanor. Lastly, the metamorphosis stage will stay similar because being part of the company will stay the same. A new employee will be involved just as before and jobs will be given to the most qualified.

This new system at AT&T will push people aside who refuse to adapt and train to become more knowledgeable. It is said that workers who do not adapt will not have a future in the company. The organizational socialization in this company seems to be able to have some improvement. When employees are told to basically adapt, or leave, it can leave a very sour taste. AT&T wants their employees to be happy and work well together, but it also needs its employees to be up to date with the new software that the company is implementing. The company is taking a hit with their organizational socialization in that workers are not going to be happy to take courses and new training, and especially not happy to pay for some of them. The new employees will also have to adapt to this new software and that will also cause some sonority type issues within the socialization. AT&T could do a better job implementing organizational socialization in the recent past. They are adapting as a company, so they need to work to help the employees come along in a way that keep them happy and working with the same unity as before.

Other organizations could learn a lot by AT&T’s example of organization socialization. With the organizational socialization changing so much because of the new software, it is important for a company to keep the workers morale and the goals of the company the same. Other companies can see how AT&T chose to adapt with its employees and decide whether that way would be best for them or not. Every company is trying to evolve, so at some point there will be a time where new and current employees will have to learn futuristic and evolving ideas of the company. When this time comes the company will have to initial organizational socialization to keep the goals, and the missions of the company at hand, but also making sure the employees are satisfied and happy.

AT&T’s organizational socialization was strongly affected by the adaption the employees had to make with the new software. Changes in the company’s ideas should not change the socialization that needs to occur.

 

 

References

AT&T Asks Employees to Buy into Training. (2016). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.eleapsoftware.com/att-asks-employees-to-buy-into-training/

Avtgis, T. A., & Rancer, A. S. (2012). Organizational communication: Strategies for success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.

Buckley, S. (2015, June 8). AT&T shifts 130K employees to focus on software networking transition. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/at-t-shifts-130k-employees-to-focus-software-networking-transition

King, R. (2015, June 5). AT&T’s Shift to DevOps and New Tech Requires a Massive Training Effort. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/06/05/atts-shift-to-devops-and-new-tech-requires-a-massive-training-effort/

Hardy, Q. (2016, February 13). Gearing Up for the Cloud, AT&T Tells Its Workers: Adapt, or Else. New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/technology/gearing-up-for-the-cloud-att-tells-its-workers-adapt-or-else.html?_r=0

Numbers, B. T. (n.d.). AT&T Company Information. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.att.com/gen/investor-relations?pid=5711

Organizational Socialization in Career Development – IResearchNet. (2015). Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://career.iresearchnet.com/career-development/organizational-socialization/

Time, F. (n.d.). How Does Socialization Promote Change in Organizations? Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/socialization-promote-change-organizations-38522.html