Conflict between the Vice President and the Plant Manager: Case Study

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 5
Words: 1550
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: PhD

The safety issues play an important role in implementing the company’s strategies and cannot be underestimated. The lack of attention toward the methods of strategic implementation can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the company’s processes and the performance indicators. The lack of understanding Between Don as the Vice President and Bernard as the plant manager and their different views upon the core values of the firm clearly demonstrate how the lack of coherence between the company’s purpose, principles, processes and people can affect the company’s overall performance. Angela, as a new Quality Assurance Manager of the three shifts, tries to express her concerns of the safety rules violation within the plant, but faces opposition from the side of Bernard and understands that the safety issues are only the top of the iceberg of the company’s problems.

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The lack of attention toward the company’s strategy implementation can result in the overall failure of the company’s mission and significant decrease of the key production indicators. Clear understanding of integrity of all the components of a 5P model, including those of a purpose, principles, processes, people and performance is important for successful strategy implementation. This paper will discuss a case study based upon an actual situation within a company in which the strategic implementation fails due to the lack of understanding between the various managerial levels and an uncomfortable working environment in which the employees’ are afraid of expressing their concerns and suggestions.

The five major issues which need to be discussed in relation to the case study under consideration include the company’s mission, cultural context, the processes within the organization, workplace fun in the employees and the performance indicators. All these issues should be addressed appropriately by narrowing the gap between the stages of the company’s strategy formulation and implementation. Regarding the aspect of the organization’s mission, it should be noted that the strategic direction vision and objectives need to be agreed among all the leaders so that they could united their efforts for its strategic implementation. Regarding the cultural context, the core values, strategic plan and its implementation need to be perceived appropriately by all the employees of the firm. The processes within the organization should be addressed in relation to the company’s mission, employees’ satisfaction with their working environment and corresponding levels of performance indicators.

Analyzing the actions taken by Don as the Vice President of a food company discussed in the case study, it can be stated that he acknowledges the importance of all key performance indicators, including the aspect of safety. Understanding the direct relationship between the employees’ satisfaction with their working conditions, the so-called workplace fun and the effectiveness of working processes, he states that he and the company’s management cannot allow violating the safety procedures and putting at risk the employees’ health. Discussing the concrete case of Mary, an employee of the third shift who has to unclog a machine with her fingers for making the production quota, Don admits that it is inadmissible. Moreover, he is tolerant towards his employees’ initiatives and appreciates their suggestions for improving the exiting processes because he acts adequately when asked to discuss a safety situation in the middle of the night. Thus, Don tries to drive the improvement initiative.

Underrating certain principles of a 5 P’s model, Don is not successful with his improvement initiative because he lacks assistance from his leaders and employees. In other words, Don may be good at the stage of strategy formation, but has difficulties with strategic implementation. Pryor, Anderson, Toombs& Humphreys (2007) noted that for the purpose of achieving their strategic goals, leaders need to discuss the broad goals of their organization with other managers and employees. From the situation discussed in the case study under consideration, it can be seen that the plant manager Bernard has got a different view of the company’s mission and places the main emphasis upon the production quotas, disregarding the safety issues. It means that the core values and the processes are perceived differently by the managers. Additionally, Safety director knew of the violation of safety rules during the third shift, but never raised the issue before because he felt uncomfortable with challenging the ways in which the things were traditionally done in the plant. Thus, the strategic implementation and creating the conditions for the workplace fun were the weak points of Don’s actions.

Bernard as the plant manager focuses on meeting the production targets by all means. He does right when stands for the integrity of the actions of the whole management team. Bernard is irritated when Angela as a new Quality Assurance manager interferes into the third shift procedures without informing him on this fact. Though his manner of expressing his concerns is inappropriate, he is right in his point that the whole management team of the company has to participate in the process of establishing the core values and making the important decisions.

Bernard as a representative of an “old school” is rather conservative and is inclined to do everything possible for achieving the production quotas even violating the safety rules if it is necessary (Ellet, 2007). Bernard completely disregards the importance of safety of the working processes which is one of the key production indicators. His strategies have a negative impact upon the employees’ satisfaction with their working conditions and corresponding effectiveness of the processes. Pryor, Singleton, Taneja & Humphreys (2010) noted that “Management inadequacies and failures contribute to a less-than-pleasurable workplace” (p. 296).

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Additionally, Bernard limits the opportunities of others to express their concerns regarding the ways for improving the procedures. When Angela expresses her opinion and draws the managers’ attention to the violation of the safety rules, Bernard meets her initiative at dagger points and even asks her not to interfere into the procedures of the third shift. Thus, Bernard should pay more attention to the aspects of safety and working environment within the plant.

Angela as a Quality Assurance Manager of the three shifts who has worked at the food plant for one day only does right, paying the managers’ attention to the case of violation of the safety rules. When Ted, a Quality Assurance Manager of the third shift, calls her at 2 a.m., she does not ignore his request and does everything she can for prevent the violation of safety rules and changing the existing procedures for making them more effective. Thus, inspired with the orientation session she has been taking during the first day of her work at the plant, Angela has no fear of challenging the traditional ways in which the procedures are carried out.

Though Angela’s reaction to the case of violation of the safety rules was the right thing to do, she could have learnt the situation at the plant before taking such extreme measures. She realizes that safety issues are not the only problem at the plant only after an unpleasant conversation with the plant manager Bernard. Thus, Angela’s improvement initiative is praiseworthy, but she could have acted less impulsively. It was possible to learn more on the main driving forces and the most influential factors in the existing state of affairs as well as the alignment of forces and the positions of the main stakeholders. She achieves success in improving only one of the procedures in which the safety rules are violated, but the overall attitude of the plant employees toward the safety issues remains unchanged. Avoiding such a fierce conflict with Bernard would be wiser.

Additional information which is needed for shedding more light upon the above-discussed issues includes the company’s mission, strategy formation and its implementation. It is important to evaluate the traditional processes of the strategy formation and implementation within the plant. Mary’s situation with unclogging the machine with her hand should be viewed in the context of the company’s core values and working environment. Though the misunderstanding and disagreement between Don and Bernard clearly demonstrate that the food company has problems in the managerial field and the strategic implementation, the preconditions of the existing situation and the measures taken by all the participants require more detailed discussion.

The additional question which should be asked for clarifying the existing situation within the plant is whether all managers working at the company have discussed the core values and the company’s mission previously. Analyzing the case under consideration, it can be stated that the Vice President and the Plant Manager have different views concerning the key production indicators and the importance of the safety issues and the overall working environment. The question is whether the measures for establishing an integrated strategic imperative within the form have been taken previously. Another aspect deserving serious consideration is the main influential factors affecting the working environment within the plant. It is obvious that there are gaps between the visions of the ore values adopted by managers of various levels as well as between their strategy formulation and implementation, and it is important to examine the main precursors of these inconsistencies.

In general, it can be concluded that the existing state of affairs within the food factory is caused by the lack of understanding between the different managerial levels, the absence of integrated company’s purpose and principles which reduce the effectiveness and safety of processes and people, having a negative impact upon the company’s performance.

Reference List

Ellet, W. (2007). The case study handbook. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Pryor, M. G., Anderson, D., Toombs, L., & Humphreys, J. (2007). Strategic implementation as a core competency: The 5P’s model. Journal of Management Research, 7(1): 1-17.

Pryor, M.G., Singleton, L.P., Taneja, S., & Humphreys, J. (2010). Workplace fun and its correlates: A conceptual inquiry. International Journal of Management, 27(2): 294-302.