Individuals and organizations can seek assistance from different specialized professional services in an effort to deal with certain challenges. One of the specialized professional services is consultation. Consultancy services are provided by different categories of specialists such as human resources and health care professionals. Furthermore, the consultancy process occurs in different settings.
Dougherty (2014) asserts that consultation “is a helping relationship in which human service or mental health professionals work with individuals or groups in a variety of settings to help them work more effectively” (p.1). Therefore, the success of the consultation process depends on the extent of collaboration between the consultant and the individual, group, or organization seeking the service. A number of activities are undertaken in order to achieve the desired goal. These activities are commonly referred to as the consulting process. The consultation process has a definite beginning and ending.
Different models have been developed in an effort to make the consultation process methodical and systematic. Some of the common categories of consultation models include the behavioral, organization, mental health, and school-based models. The models allow the consultation process to be structured, hence eliminating deviations during the consultation process.
The organizational model is one of the classic examples of consultation models. The objective of the model is to assist organizations to conceptualize the problems faced with regard to the organizational structure and the various organizational processes implemented. This model takes into account the various stages in general consultation, which include entry, implementation, problem diagnosis, and disengagement. This paper entails an illustration and analysis of a consultation scenario with specific reference to the various stages of the organizational consultation model.
The global business environment has experienced dramatic evolution over the past three decades. The intensity of competition has increased significantly. Additionally, the existence of global economic fluctuations is also threatening organizations’ long-run operations. Despite this aspect, most organizations are committed to achieving long-term sustainability in their operations. Subsequently, organizations are adopting diverse strategic management practices. One of the areas that organizations are highly focused on relates to growth as evidenced by the high rate at which firms are adopting different growth strategies such as organic growth and formation of mergers and acquisitions (Alam, Khan & FareehaZafar, 2014).
In its quest to achieve financial sustainability, Suntory Holdings, which is a Japanese liquor company, announced its intention to acquire Beam Incorporation at a cost of $14 billion (Sweet, 2014). However, the success with which Suntory Holdings undertakes the acquisition will depend on the effectiveness with which the firm’s management team undertakes the acquisition process professionally.
The acquisition process may be affected by the existence of cultural differences between the two firms (Fung, Lo, Srivastava & Andermann, 2012). Therefore, Suntory Holdings’ ability to achieve the desired level of synergy may be affected negatively. Subsequently, it is imperative for the firm to seek the services of a professional with regard to mergers and acquisition. The consultant will be charged with the responsibility of assisting the firm to be successful in its acquisition and integration process.
The consultation process
In order to be successful in offering consultancy services, it is imperative for the consultant to take into account a number of steps, which are illustrated herein.
The first phase entails developing an effective relationship with the client, viz. Suntory Holdings. The relationship developed at the initial stage has a significant impact on how the consultancy process is undertaken. A number of aspects are taken into account under the entry phase.
Exploring the needs
During the entry stage, it is imperative for Suntory Holdings to discuss with the consultant the issue at hand. The discussion will provide the consultant with a clue on the problem faced. For example, Suntory Holdings’ representatives will be required to explain how the organization intends to restructure its operations through acquisition. Such an explanation will form the basis on which the consultant undertakes a further exploration of the organization’s needs. Dougherty, Tack, Fullam, and Hammer (2012) argue that establishing the need for consultation is one of the most challenging phases of consultation.
Failure to explore the organizational needs may lead to the consultation process becoming ineffective. Dougherty (2013) asserts that consultants “should be cautious about moving too quickly into planning and implementation steps during the beginning of the entry process” (p.67). Despite the Suntory Holdings’ inability to pinpoint the need for consultation accurately, it is imperative for the firm’s management team to consider seeking the services of professionals in merger and acquisitions in order to increase the likelihood of success in the process. Numerous cases of failures in mergers and acquisitions have been documented in the past. One of the reasons of failure relates to lack of effective planning of the merger.
The establishment of relationship is paramount in the preparation and planning of the consultation process. The entry phase also entails making decisions on whether the consultation process will proceed. Subsequently, the consultant and the client will be in a position to enter into a consultation contract, which might be informal or formal. The contract outlines a number of issues such as the consultant’s role and the client’s expectations.
In this scenario, Suntory Holdings expects the consultant to provide expertise and skills on how to undertake the acquisition process in order to avoid possible pitfalls such as cultural challenges. Moreover, the contract should outline the timeframe within which the consultant should complete the assigned roles. A line of authority between Suntory Holdings and the consultant should be established in order to ensure effective reporting relationship.
Physically entering the system
This phase occurs after the formalization of the consultation contract. During this phase, the consultant will be in a position to interact with employees in different levels of management at Suntory Holdings. In order to nurture a strong relationship between the firm and the consultant, it is imperative for Suntory Holdings to consider assigning the consultant with a temporary office in its premises. Dougherty (2013) is of the view that providing the “consultant with a temporary office is a strong symbolic statement of strong support for the consultant” (p.74). Additionally, such an action will illustrate the organization’s willingness to commit its resources during the consultation process.
By physically entering the organization, the consultant will be in a position to understand the organization’s culture, and thus determine the degree of cultural fit between the firm and the company targeted for acquisition. However, it is essential for Suntory Holdings to inform employees of the consultant’s entry into the organization by informing them the reasons for the entry coupled with the consultant’s functions and the intended goals. Through such communication, Suntory Holdings will foster the relationship between the consultant and its employees.
This aspect refers to the process of developing a strong relationship with the various internal stakeholders. With regard to this scenario, the contracted consultant should consider nurturing a strong relationship with employees in different levels of management. This move will increase the consultant’s level of acceptance by the employees. Subsequently, the probability of gathering relevant information that will improve the consultation process will be increased.
In order to succeed in psychologically entering Suntory Holdings system, the consultant should take into account two main levels, which include the process level and the personal interactions level (Rothermund, Kilian, Hoelzer, Rieger & Guendel, 2014). The process level refers to the processes and procedures that the organization has adopted in its decision-making process. On the other hand, the personal interactions level relates to the prevailing relationships and interactions amongst employees (Dougherty, 2014). Therefore, it is imperative for the organization to take into account the organization’s norms.
This stage entails an in-depth analysis of the issues faced by the client. Dougherty (2014) asserts that it is imperative for the consultant and the client to establish a high level of collaboration. The collaboration should aim at developing an effective identification of the changes that should be undertaken in order to deal with the problem identified. In a bid to be effective in the diagnosis process, it is imperative for the consultant to take into account a number of steps, which include
- Gathering relevant data
- Defining the problem
- Setting the goal
- Developing the alternative interventions
The data gathering process entails collecting relevant information in order to develop a better understanding of the organization’s need. Faqua and Kurpius (2011) assert that data gathering increases the consultant’s ability to conceptualize the problem identified during the process of exploring the organization’s need. Additionally, it is critical for the consultant and the client to cooperate in determining the parameters that will be taken into account in the data gathering process. This goal can be achieved by defining the scope that will be taken into account in the data gathering process. During the data collection phase, it is critical for the consultant to ensure that only relevant data is collected.
The consultant will take into account different categories of data, which include process data, consultee-client system relationship data, and current descriptive data. Process data will entail information regarding the organization’s methods of operation such as the decision-making process. On the other hand, the interpretive data will entail information on the employees’ beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions, which will allow the consultant to determine the extent to which employees identify with the firm.
The consultee–client system relationship data will entail gathering information on the nature of relationship that Suntory Holdings has established with its clients, which in this case is Beam Incorporation. Current descriptive data will entail data on Suntory Holdings’ internal communication channels. This data will enable the consultant to identify potential problems in the communication process.
In a bid to be effective in the data gathering process, the consultant will collect data from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data will be collected using different data collection instruments, which include questionnaires, surveys, observation, and interviews. On the other hand, secondary data will be collected by reviewing Suntory Holdings’ documents and records.
The data collected will undergo a thorough analysis in order to understand the faced challenges. Effective problem definition provides the consultant with a clue on the possible course of action that can be taken in order to minimize negative outcomes. Dougherty (2014) is of the view that problem analysis “assists the consultant and the client to understand the characteristics of the problem” (p.96). Thus, the consultant develops an idea on what should be done and how it should be undertaken. The problem definition phase also entails outlining the various activities that will be undertaken. In order to be successful in defining the problem, the consultant will ensure that Suntory Holdings is involved optimally in the problem definition phase. This aspect will play a fundamental role in developing a mutual agreement regarding the problem faced.
This phase entails designating what is expected to be achieved during the consultation process. In this case, the major problem faced by Suntory Holdings relates to achieving success in its quest to acquire Beam Incorporation. Subsequently, the consultant’s goal will be to ensure that the consultee is successful in undertaking the merger and acquisition process. Therefore, the consultant will ensure that Suntory Holdings understands the various issues that can affect the acquisition process. Some of the major issues that will be taken into account in the goal-setting phase relates to the employees’ resistance and cultural integration between the two firms involved in the acquisition.
The consultant will ensure that the goals set are SMART, viz. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. Additionally, the goal-setting phase will also entail the identification of the possible obstacles that might affect the attainment of the set goals. One of the obstacles that might affect the achievement of the set goal relates to lack of commitment amongst the parties in undertaking their respective roles and responsibilities.
Additionally, the consultant will evaluate whether Suntory Holdings has the necessary resources to undertake the acquisition successfully. The anticipation of the possible obstacles will improve the effectiveness with which the consultant and the client collaborate in neutralizing the possible negative effects. However, this goal will only be achieved if an effective channel of communication between the two parties is established (Hofman, Sawyer, Witt & Oh, 2011).
Generating possible interventions
After the consultation goal is effectively set, the parties to the consultation process should formulate possible strategies or interventions that should be considered in dealing with the issue faced. In this scenario, Suntory Holdings will be faced by a cultural challenge in its efforts to acquire Beam Incorporation. The challenge will emanate from the view that the two firms have developed different organizational cultures.
Denison, Adkins, and Guidroz (2011) cite cultural differences as one of the main causes of failures in mergers and acquisitions. Subsequently, lack of cultural fit between the two firms will pose a threat in the integration phase of the merger. In order to minimize such an occurrence, Suntory Holdings should conduct a comprehensive analysis of Beam Incorporation’s culture. This move will provide the firm’s management team with a general idea on the extent to which the organizational cultures of the two firms are congruent.
In the event that the two organizations are characterized by different organizational cultures and the potential of achieving the desired synergy through the acquisition is high, it is essential for Suntory Holdings to consider implementing effective culture management interventions. Some of the cultural management strategies that the firm should consider include assimilation and formation of a blended corporation (Fung et al., 2012).
Assimilation is the process through which the culture of the firm being acquired is changed into that of the acquiring entity (Brady & Lowell, 2014). However, this move may cause resentment amongst employees of the firm being acquired. In extreme situations, some of the employees may decide to quit, which means that the organization’s long-term operational efficiency may be affected due to loss of talent. On the other hand, Suntory Holdings may consider blending an organizational culture that is comprised of cultures of the two organizations. Suntory Holdings should consider forming a blended corporation in order to achieve the desired synergy through the acquisition.
The implementation stage entails putting into action the plan developed in the earlier stages of the consultation process. It is vital for the consultant to ensure that the plan is implemented effectively. The consultant should take into account a number of steps during the intervention phase. These steps include selecting the most effective intervention, formulating the plan, implementing the plan, and evaluation.
In this case, Suntory Holdings should consider conducting a comprehensive cultural analysis in order to determine the cultural differences between the two firms. The analysis will enable the firm to implement the most effective cultural integration strategy. Moreover, the firm’s management team should ensure that the various internal stakeholders such as employees are aware of the organization’s intention to acquire Beam Incorporation. Suntory’s management team should form an organizational culture that is a blend of the two firms. This aspect will increase the likelihood of the firm accessing the strengths associated with Beam Incorporation’s organizational culture. Blending the organizational culture will minimize the likelihood of Suntory Holdings experiencing resistance from employees.
During this stage, the consultant commences on the process of terminating the consultation relationship established with the client. The consultant will ensure that the termination process is undertaken effectively. Consequently, a number of phases will be taken into account. These phases include
- Planning various post-consultation matters
- Reducing the level of involvement and follow-up
This stage will entail assessing the degree of success in the consultation process. The summative approach will be adopted in assessing the success on the various areas of the consultation process. Moreover, the pre-post method of evaluation will also be adopted (Dougherty et al., 2012). Some of the issues that will be taken into account during the evaluation phase relates to assessing the extent to which Suntory Holdings’ management team has appreciated the importance of conducting a cultural analysis in order to determine the cultural fit with Beam Incorporation before commencement of the acquisition process. A self-assessment on the consultation process will be undertaken by adopting different evaluation instruments such as checklists and questionnaires.
Planning post-consultation matters
This phase will entail ensuring that the organization is effective in sustaining the gains achieved through the acquisition. One of the post consultation issues that will be taken into account relates to how to maintain the blended organizational culture. Additionally, the consultant will also consider the importance of sustaining a long-term relationship with the consultant. Additionally, the consultant will also ensure that Suntory Holding can monitor and deal with diverse cultural issues that emerge after the acquisition. This responsibility will be assigned to the Suntory’s management team. Force-field analysis and simulation techniques will be adopted in an effort to understand potential cultural problems that might hinder operations of the new entity.
Reducing involvement and following up
After planning the post-consultation matters, the consultant will reduce the frequency of interacting with the organization. The consultant will integrate the fading technique. The decision to reduce involvement in the consultation process is informed by the need to provide Suntory Holdings with an opportunity to implement the cultural management techniques gained. Subsequently, the organization will be in a position to assess its effectiveness in managing cultural integration. Therefore, the organization will become independent. A comprehensive follow-up plan will be formulated. The plan will outline how often the consultant will follow the outcome of the consultation process. Moreover, follow-up will also be undertaken on a need-to-need basis (Nakazawa et al., 2013).
The final stage will entail terminating the consultation process, which will be undertaken professionally in order to sustain the reputation and relationship developed. A termination meeting involving the client and the consultant will be conducted. One of the issues that will be discussed during the termination meeting includes any unresolved issues. The milestones achieved will be assessed by developing and reviewing a termination report. This move will aid in gauging the extent to which the client is satisfied.
Multi-cultural, ethical issues and resistance
In the process of providing the consultancy service, the consultant will take into account the prevailing cultural diversity and ethical issues. The consultant will adopt a culturally responsive style in the consultation process by respecting the client’s cultural issues such as norms, values, and beliefs. Additionally, the consultant will eliminate any form of discrimination in the service provision process. For example, the minority groups involved in the consultation process will be considered by gathering information on how they might be affected by the acquisition.
Suderman (2012) holds that consultants should see the prevailing cultural differences as a source of organizational strength as opposed to an impediment. Adopting a multicultural approach will improve the effectiveness with which the consultant understands the cultural differences between Suntory Holdings and Beam Incorporation.
The consultant will ensure that the consultation process is undertaken professionally by observing ethical behavior. The consultant will adhere to ethical code of conduct by ensuring that the client is not coerced to provide relevant data. A high degree of confidentiality regarding the organization’s operation will be maintained by avoiding any form of manipulation. Thus, Suntory Holdings will not lose its competitiveness through insider trading.
The consultant will also maintain his engagement with the consultant within the defined scope. In order to deal with possible resistance from employees, the consultant will integrate effective conflict management skills. Furthermore, an effective communication channel will be adopted in order to ensure effective flow of information amongst the various consultant participants. Moreover, resistance will also be dealt with by adopting group management skills to increase the likelihood of participation in the consultation process.
By following the above generic consultation model, the consultant will provide optimal consultancy services. However, the effectiveness of the consultation will depend on the extent to which the consultant and the client collaborate. Therefore, it is essential for the consultant to foster an effective relationship with the client. Additionally, the consultant will integrate effective consultation skills such as effective interaction with the involved participants. The consultant will observe the prevailing cultural diversity and ethical code of conduct. Moreover, effective communication skills and group management skills will be taken into account in order to sustain the consultation process.
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