Crystel, a Study in Leadership

Leadership, as defined by Robert J. Shiver, chairman and CEO of New York City – based Aewav Holdings, Inc., is “the ability to motivate and guide people toward a goal.” Leadership includes influencing and enabling others to contribute to the successes of the company or team to which one belongs. A key point of leadership has to do with competency. The competency trait includes knowledge, skills, abilities, and values. (McShane & Glinow 2005, p. 4)

CrysTel, which is based out of Illinois, employs 2,500 people and has annual revenue of $200 million. Their company produces products such as: data cables, wireless solutions, and network development. With in the simulation it identified strong and weak areas within the organization and apply behavioral changes. This would build a culture that could maintain and continue change. When faced with the challenge of bringing on new products to the companies portfolio, in an effort to keep up with the demands of the market, it was essential to asses the areas that were not able and ready to handle this constant change. Some important aspects to consider in making these decisions are leadership quality, communication within the team, and motivation. After the evaluation, it was realized that the performance of any department has a direct relationship to the flow of communication, the kind of leadership, and the level at which the employees are motivated. Once the weakness was identified in each department, the company had to initiate activities that would help the departments change their weaknesses into strengths. When determining those activities, the company had to take into consideration the department’s resistance factors. Activities that were implemented included: constant communication with employees, creating a training calendar and appointing mentors, creating a conflict resolution forum, empowering teams to decide on targets and leaders, etc.
“All organizational structures include two fundamental requirements: the division of labor into distinct tasks and the coordination of that labor so that employees are able to accomplish common goals.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 446). CrysTel currently holds an organizational structure of centralization. “Centralization means that formal decision-making authority is held by a small group of people, typically those at the top of the organizational hierarchy. Most organizations begin with centralized structures, as the founder makes most of the decisions and tries to direct the business toward his or her vision.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 451). CrysTel follows this organizational structure with top positions of Chief Executive Officer, Vice President of Technology Development, Vice President of Sales and Delivery, Vice President of Marketing, and Vice President of Human Resources. The individuals at these levels are considered experts of the business and understand the fitness manufacturers industry. Each one of these positions holds power, prestige, and great intelligence.
CrysTel uses the functional structure in conjunction with the formalization structure. “Functional structure organizes employees around specific knowledge or other resources. Employees with marketing expertise are grouped into a marketing unit, those with production skills are located in manufacturing, engineers are found in product development, and so on. Organizations with functional structures are typically centralized to coordinate their activities effectively.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 456). CrysTel’s departments of expertise consist of technology development, human resources, technology operations, sales and delivery and marketing. Within each of these departments, there are several levels of leadership: team managers, senior managers, and vice presidents.
CrysTel has been continually going through changes with their products with rapid and frequent advances in the telecommunications industry that inevitably lead to new expectations which require new management changes. With the enormous amount of change that occurs in organizations, employees depend on information to reduce the level of uncertainty about what is about to happen next. The better CrysTel can cope with feelings of uncertainty among their employees, the better they can achieve their goals as a profitable, successful company. “Individuals and work units acquire power by helping the organization to cope with uncertainty. Coping includes any activity that effectively deals with environmental uncertainties affecting the organization.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 363).
There are three general strategies that help organizations to cope with uncertainty among their employees. They are: prevention, forecasting, and absorption. Prevention being the most powerful tool. Prevention is when the most powerful people in the organization can prevent environmental changes from taking place. Forecasting is the second most powerful tool. With forecasting it is expected that powerful people will try to predict environmental changes or variations. Absorption is when work units also gain power by absorbing the impact of environmental shifts as they occur. All three of these strategies must be practiced by CrysTel for employees to have a sense of certainty in the company.
Additional ways to ease employees’ reaction to change is to create visibility and networking methods in the office and to ensure that these methods are known throughout the office. “Those who control valued resources or knowledge will yield power only when others are aware of these power bases, in other words, when it is visible. Even when someone’s legitimate power has no effect until employees are aware of the person’s position or status in the organization. One way to increase visibility is to take people-oriented jobs and work on projects that require frequent interaction with senior executives.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 366). When visibility becomes part of the picture team members seem to be more open to upper management’s ideas and tend to have a greater incentive to be on board with the mission, decisions, and objectives that affect the whole company. Employees want to know what is happening and why, they want to know how it will affect them. When employees know these things they become more apt to go along with the company.
Networking is another method to manage reaction to change. Many good things come from networking such as building credibility and trust. “Networks consist of people who trust each other, which increases the flow of information among those within the network. The more you network, the more likely you will receive valuable information that increases your expert power in the organization.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 367).
“Leadership is the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute to the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 416). CrysTel needs phenomenal leadership for them to grow and manage large initiatives. “Leadership isn’t restricted to the executive suite. Anyone in the organization can be a leader.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 416). CrysTel must communicate this concept to all employees and bring them on board with the company. Leadership must take place in all levels of the company, from the cubicles on up to the CEO. They must be open minded to new ideas and embrace the thoughts of changing processes that can work more effectively and efficiently.
Leadership style should be people-oriented with the seven competencies integrated. The people-oriented leadership style is a leadership style that is well liked. When a boss treats their employee like an equal and listens to their suggestions, they will respect them. trust them and want to work harder for them. Through this style of leadership a greater job satisfaction level, lower absenteeism, grievances, and turnover can be achieved. “Leaders with strong people-oriented style listen to employee suggestions, do personal favors for employees, support their interests when required, and treat employees as equals.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2004, p. 421).
Using the path-goal theory of leadership would be the best. This theory of leadership would fit some situations better than using judgment calls based on the people-oriented theory. “Path-goal leadership theory is a contingency theory of leadership based on expectancy theory of motivation that relates several leadership styles to specific situational contingencies.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2004, p. 422). Through this theory leaders are able to strengthen the performance-to-outcome expectancy and valences of those outcomes. They are able to do so by ensuring that employees who perform their jobs well have a higher degree of need fulfillment than employees who do not perform well. (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 422).
Through the combination of the people-oriented theory of leadership for a foundation and using the path-goal leadership theory in practice, when the timing is right, would be the leadership methods best used for implementing a major initiative. These styles of leadership will work the best for CrysTel because of the people friendly feel they portray. Since, employees resist command driven leadership which results in lower job satisfaction, lower attendance and higher turnover. Each of those implications can be very costly to a company. Employees will work harder for management whom they fell respects them, one who treats them with integrity and shows equality, while making work enjoyable.
Transformational leadership is also another great way to lead people and have them understand what the company is all about. The elements of transformational leadership are: creating a vision, communicating the vision, modeling the vision, and building commitment to the vision. Transformational leaders actually perform all of these tasks. They not only come up the vision, they also find effective ways to communicate the vision to the employees while modeling how to fulfill the vision. When the employees see the “vision maker” actually “walking the walk” and enacting the vision, naturally they will build commitment to the vision. Using this transformational leadership method to outline what the leaders hoped to accomplish, along with an explanation of what roles the company needed to be filled and what the roles would be doing, and working as a team to make it happen would help them in their pursuit. Together, this will build a commitment to reach the goal as a team and give everyone the drive to achieve the end vision.
Recommendation of Measures to Monitor Progress
After running the simulation of change management, I feel that the culture at CrysTel is not all positive. Within this simulation I was given the role of researching and analyzing which departments needed changes and which departments were resistant to change. I was also assigned the task of providing the information required to optimize flexibility, promote innovation, and sustain change. I had to identify strong and weak areas of the organization and apply behavior change techniques that would build a culture that would be able to sustain change. During these tasks, I received input from the organization’s perspective and upper management. There were five strong upper management employees who advised me along the way. There were several behavior restrictions that could be altered although I had to figured out what departments needed altering and by how much. Leading by example, employee and senior communication, empowering teams, risk-taking, resolving conflict, and mentoring sessions were the behaviors I worked with. Certain departments were stronger than others but a few stood out as very weak. These were the sales, and delivery and marketing.
The formalization organization structure and the functional organization structure are compatible structures that will work hand in hand. The formalization concept explains how the business is run in terms of organization structure of employees. The function structure describes how the business is structured in terms of functionality. These organizational structures will create a culture that will follow the upper management of greater power and modeling their behaviors. It will also create a more departmentalized structure that thinks about the effects on their department only and does not work in teams with other departments. The functional organization structure should be less about the goals of each department on their own, but more about the department and how it can work with other departments to find best practices, core competencies, and idea sharing.
As I worked through the simulation and made decisions based on areas of weakness and resistance to change, I found apprehension among the employees when change occurred. “Organization politics are behaviors that others perceive as self-serving tactics for personal gain at the expense of other people and possibly the organization. While influence is sometimes beneficial to the organization, organizational politics is usually considered undesirable.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 375).
“People have referent power when others identify with them, like them, or otherwise respect them. Like expert power, referent power comes from within the person. It is largely a function of the person’s interpersonal skills and usually develops slowly. Referent power is usually associated with charismatic leadership.” (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005, p. 362). This is a much more positive, effective way to use your power to win other subordinates over that you want to buy-into your changes and whom you want to gain respect from.
This is an option that I wish I would have had control over in the simulation. When choosing to implement a change in a behavioral parameter, I wish I would have had the option to choose what kind of leadership style this change was implemented with. As our reading spelled out, there are several ways of using power in a negative way and too often, those ways are sometimes easier and take less work or time but do not result in true and genuine feelings from employees.
Recommendation of Management Practices that Contribute to the Success of Change Process
Change is the tidal wave of irresistible force that occurs in the workplace each day. Employees who try and deny change and expect it never to take place will end up on the outside of the company. There are ways that management can bring about change quickly and gracefully. In an article in KM World, Art Murray of Applied Knowledge Sciences discusses basic techniques to gain focused concentration on vision, mission, strategy and objectives. He points out that performance drivers, key people, processes and technologies can aid in complete transformation when a company practices repetition and the desired change becomes habitual (Murray, 2007).
Murray points out three managerial practices that are sure to aid in the success of the organizational change: Focused concentration, relentless repetition, and living embodiment. “Change cannot occur if energy is misdirected. Vision and mission, strategy and objectives, performance drivers and key people, and processes and technologies must be closely aligned and in balance. Lack of organizational alignment means energy is being wasted in places not critical to the mission. Maximum transfer of energy comes from focusing your efforts only on those key areas having the greatest impact on mission success.” (Murray, 2007). Managers must constantly have the vision and mission in the front of their minds and always be looking for the gaps that are holding the team back. The goal should be to try to close the gaps one at a time. “Then look for hidden opportunities that can give you even greater results, using what you already have.” (Murray, 2007).
Every company is aware of the importance for standard operation procedures and doing things the right way and playing by the rules. A business is efficient and effective when there are specific rules and standards in place for every day operations. These standards serve their purpose when everyone follows them each and every time. If these rules weren’t followed consistently and closely, they would do the company no good. “Complete transformation can only occur when the desired change in behavior becomes habitual, to the point where the employee no longer has to think about it.” (Murray, 2007). Something that often happens is after the new initiative is launched and all the new standard operating procedures are in place, new training has been done, execution doesn’t follow. The employees slowly begin to fall back to their old habits and get caught up in day to day operations “That’s where repetition comes in. As the leading change agent, a manager must continue to bang the drum relentlessly. And if the manager is not focused, the message will quickly get lost among the distractions. A clear theme, with a clear result, communicated many times over, will eventually take hold.” (Murray, 2007).
The final concept is living embodiment, not just talking the talk but actually walking the walk. If the manager practices what he preaches to his team, the team is more likely to follow his actions. Not only does this aid in demonstrating to the team how the action is to be performed but is also shows the real belief and support the manager gives to the change. Murray also brings up a very simple concept of lessons learned that can save companies millions. “Lessons-learned can save the company money by eliminating the waste that comes from repeated mistakes. At the end of each task or activity, take some time to document what worked, what didn’t work and how to do it better. Uncover the root cause of the problem and correct it.” (Murray, 2007). This drill will often times uncover a gap in the process or inadequate controls that allow shortcuts or inappropriate standards. This short but important task could save the company time and money in the long run.
As the world changes and the consumers change with it companies will need to follow suit. Those who do not follow suit will fall by behind and die out. CrysTel needs to get their employees on board and ready and willing to embrace change. Once they have embraced change have found the best form of leadership for their company they will be able to move forward with confidence that they will succeed. “Don’t even think about not practicing the change yourself. If you can’t stick to it, don’t expect others to. The real challenge is finding the balance in challenging work habits while delivering a measurable boost in performance.” (Murray, 2007).

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