Jick and Maury (2011) have provided a great opportunity for readers to learn the importance of accepting changes in the businesses processes at an organization. The case study is about how Seagram has evolved from a company that was closely based on an organizational culture based in hierarchical structure which had proved to be suffocative for it employees where they could not have their opinion hear to a company where the same employees are a part of the decision making process where they are not only asked for their opinions but also to give suggestions. Their suggestions are seriously considered and if they are applicable, they are acted upon.
According to the case study, the agent of change has been the leadership of Bronfman who is a person who believes in a participative organizational culture where the say of each and every employee is valued not just the top leadership. His leadership had made the company grow and its growth rate has touched 15% annual growth rate. The case study provides details of the different steps that were taken to change the organizational culture to a culture of openness, innovativeness and fill with effective communication. I will discuss the different aspects of the factors that caused the problems at Seagram and how they were overcome. I would also forward some recommendations. The paper will be closed with a conclusion towards the very end.
The senior management at Seagram has been concerned about an effective image in the minds of their customers and their own employees. The company is run with an authoritative attitude where there is a hierarchial management structure. Research suggests that organizational cultures based on strict hierarchies have weak communication between the employees at different levels (Lachman, Nedd & Hinings, 1994). This could be the cause of the gap generated by hierarchies where employees at the lower level do not have a direct access to the top management.
There is also a trust deficit between the employees and the top management. This trust deficit has caused a deterioration in the productivity of these employees.
There is also an image issue facing Seagram. The top management have been facing challenging in identifying to the world who they are. This is a multimillion dollar question as to what does a company mean for the consumer market. Answering this question would mean that they would be able to win customers who will return with future purchases.
Seagram has been working on changing the culture inside their organization starting from 1992. Under the leadership of Bronfman, the executives of the companies teamed up and have made a greater global image. They have improved their operating income growth. Not only they have achieved several milestones in the consumer market, they have gained the confidence of their employees. The strategy of focus groups have worked tremendously which has enabled the employees to be listened to. This has effectively changed their performance behavior.
Bronfman has encouraged that they should learn from the best practices they have already been tested by other organizations. They have incorporated these best practices in different business operations including understanding the needs of the customers. Understanding the needs of the customers is an important factor in finding innovative solutions to issues that deal with the expectations of the customers (Bayus, 2008).
Bronfman has organized focus groups from different departments. The building up of new organizational processes like focus groups has helped in creating a new relationship of communication that is helping the employees to adopt to the new organizational context. This setting provides an opportunity to all the employees at all levels and different functions to create a culture that is based on trust and understanding. Where their say has a values. They feel recognized when they are asked for their opinion and suggestions. This has proved to be a healthy way or managing the workforce based on creating trust within the employees and with the top management.
Recommendations for Improvements
In my opinion, Seagram should not use “value” as a measure of success. Instead they should use it as a tool of improving the communication relationships. The success of the company should be linked with the growth of each of the department within the company in terms of a better communication culture and productivity.
Seagram top management should be willing to move employees to new roles. This will enable these employees to learn new skills and get better at what they do and what is expected of them. Employees with changing roles will be agents of change in the organizational culture and could provide Seagram with future leaders. These people should be considered as valuable assets by Seagram.
I would like to conclude my discussion by pointing out that cultural changes at organizations should be a continuous process. Organizational culture should not be dealt with a fixed entity and room for improvement should always be identified. The process of cultural improvement will result in bringing in innovative ideas to the organizational processes. These innovations can guide organizations to a better and productive future.