1.- Thinking about organisations you are familiar with (it must not be IBM), what mechanisms and procedures have different organisations used for employee involvement and to give employees voice?
The organization that I have chosen to these questions is Lucent Technologies again. I was working in it for almost four years in IT department and I know several initiatives that were launched in order to change the way of doing the things using the new technologies and process optimization. The process which one I am going to speak was called in Lucent as Order Management System (OMS). With this process Lucent tried to increase the productivity, the customer satisfaction, decrease the time to market and minimize the storage capacity.
The initiative started from the CEO and top management of every LoBs (lines of business) involved. The implementation was carry on from the IT department and this department was the leader of the initiative. Lucent is an international company, but this initiative was undertaken only in the region of Europe ( EMEA -Europe Middle East and Africa). Although the solution is at EMEA level and each country should be consistent with the decision taken, there are some degree of independence related with the local aspects as are the issues related with the human resources and sales.
The implementation of the process was done with the use of the ERP of SAP v3 and the success of the new process depended on the acceptance of the employees about the configuration of the ERP for them. Linking with the style of management (based in Purcell, 1986) described in the previous lessons, we can see that the common style used was a consultative or constitutional (depending of department) and is a company where the opinion of employees is much important.
The IT department established several actions to gain the employee involvement, that following the structure described by Marchington and Wilkinson (2008, p.405) can be classified as task-centered and direct. These actions are the following:
- Task participation and teamworking
The first step adopted was to create a several groups in each country composed by IT members and business members. These groups were divided again, following the different phases of the project as was the phases of business requirement, develop and deployment.
- Downward communication
Each week the responsible of the project introduced the news in a common repository with the progress of project and one email was sent to the responsible of each department. Each manager and its expert users could use the repository to make their own comment about the progress achieved and expressing theirs needs.
- Upward problem solving
In order to talk about the comments received and to solve the problems found, had meetings every two/three months in different Europe city. The goal of these meetings was to refine the business requirements of the new system (OMS) with the knowledge of the end users of each country and configure the next steps of project.
2.- How effective were each of these voice mechanisms in a) giving employees an effective voice at work and b) adding value to the organisation?
If we see the actions taken looks like very good options to involve all employees and to have a solution with the convenience of all parts involved in the process. But in fact the project suffered a lot of troubles and even one change of name in order to recover the confidence of the employees participating.
Some of the main troubles was that the employees had a lot of mechanism to give specifications, comments and feedback, but their feeling was that nobody had asked opinion to them before choose the tool (the ERP of SAP) and this situation created barriers and opposition from the beginning.
The introduction of the new system was planned to add value to the company in one year after implementation, but in fact was needed several years more because the adaptation of some groups of end users was more complicated due to they showed apathy in the learning.
3.- Account for any variation in effectiveness of different mechanisms.
At the beginning was very complicated to gain employee involvement and commitment, and it was necessary to develop another intermediate system in order to decrease the time to adopt the system in the entire EMEA region.
Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A. (2008), 'Human Resource Management at Work' (4th edn), London: CIPD.
Helen Newell (2009), Human Resources Management Study Notes, Warwick Business School.
Purcell, J. (1986), "Employee Relations Autonomy Within a Corporate Culture", Personnel Management, February.