A case study on Poor Employee Relations and its
Effect on Customer Demand
Summary of the case
This case study follows a Tool Manufacturer where an in-depth organizational analysis was conducted comprising of qualitative interviews with senior management. Hence, process mapping was conducted to detail the main activities of the organization. The process mapping demonstrated how the customer and the organization interacted. The customer would initially approach the Tool Manufacturer through associated marketing or more typically on the basis of previous work completed. On the basis of customer requirements a preliminary drawing of the tool would be drafted and sent to the customer. The customer would then accept the draft drawing, which would then be manufactured accordingly. Nevertheless, not all was well. Several projects had been delayed, resulting in a loss of revenue for the business. Worst of all, several tools had been manufactured to incorrect draft specifications, which then had to be scrapped and started again. Such was the case due to inter departmental conflicts. An e.g. of such conflict is demonstrated between the Drawing Department and the Machine Shop where the Draft specification drawings rather than finalized drawings were given to the Machine Shop to produce the tool. There was lack of responsibility and accountability. This conflict not only created internal problems, but also reduced employee motivation and job satisfaction. Further research revealed that individuals tended to see themselves working in a vacuum or in a cliché as opposed to working within the wider organization. This had several consequences including worker conflict, interdepartmental conflict and poor employee relations. The conflict had a wider implication that jeopardized the business as a whole. Customer orders were being delayed, orders were not being produced to the correct specification and some orders were of such inferior quality (due to their frequent reworking) that they broke down within weeks of being installed at the customer site. This led to a deterioration of the client’s reputation of being a World-class tool manufacturer.
Evaluating the case
Employee relations and worker conflicts are always problematic and the consequences are difficult to predict (Fortado, 2001). Problematic relations can cause ill-feeling between colleagues, lowering job satisfaction (Biggs, Senior and Swailes, 2002) or causing stress and depression (Dormann and Zapf, 2002; Friedman, Tidd, Currall and Tsai, 2000). The above case is a typical case of bad employee relations which is due to lack of proper co-ordination, communication, accountability and responsibility. We see that there is no harmony between the departments and many of the existing literature has viewed manufacturing-marketing conflict largely as an undesirable antecedent or outcome that is to be minimized. The case shows that such conflict is so undesirable for an organization that it not only affects the employees of those concerned departments but threats the survival of the organization as a whole. Also, it is seen that the need to increase consumer orientation of the firm has necessitated the integration of marketing and operations. But, unfortunately, the relationship between these two functions has often been uncomfortable, if not adversial (Karmakar, 1996, p. 125). In the case mentioned above, we see that due to worker conflicts, there is lack of job satisfaction and employee motivation, both which are essential for the longetivity of the organization. Worker conflict is inevitable in any workplace due to the interdependency of the employees and the teams. To overcome such conflicts, first requirement is that the organization must have a management team who is able, fair, provide clear and transparent communication and set goals that are consistent and achievable. The top level executives or the owner should consider improving management...
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