C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams
The "team" concept has become the standard in today's workplace due to its ability to increase cooperation and knowledge sharing. However, while the business environment continues to become more sophisticated and demanding, businesses are looking to reduce micro management and shift focus to the company's vision. Consequently, they look for alternatives to the traditional team model, such as the latest concept of a self-managed team, which places an emphasis on team independence and member participation. This emerging concept of a self-managed team is a group of people working independently towards a common objective which is defined outside the team. A self-empowered team promises to yield more creativity and productivity for improved results. "Fortune magazine calls self-directed or self-managed teams the productivity breakthrough of the 90s" (Elmuti 4). Rick Cohen, the owner of C&S Wholesale Grocers is considering implementing this concept of self-managed teams to meet the rapid growth of his business just in time for one of the busiest season ever for the company.
C&S Wholesale Grocers grew into a multimillion dollar business by securing military bases and large supermarket accounts, such as A&P supermarkets, which is now C&S' largest customer. With the busy Holiday season ahead and increasing demand from A&P, Cohen is concerned about his company's ability to service the customers. In order to deliver, the company had continued to expand its workforce. Eventually, the rapid growth was detrimental to cost and quality. Cohen is concerned for several reasons: higher workload due to A&P, the increased staff creating an overcrowded workplace, the diminishing quality of the orders, and stress causing turnover which peaked at 90%. The constant influx of new and untrained employees led to more inefficiencies and confusion. The extra bodies, along with the increased work load, caused congestion in the aisles. As one forklift operator commented, "We were all rushing around. No one had time to think. Pallets of product were just left in the aisles because we didn't have time to hoist the pallets onto the shelves" (Delong 7). In this environment, the execution of the orders became more difficult, requiring the employees to work longer hours. The morale decreased significantly pushing the company to the edge of bankruptcy when the workers went on strike in the past. Although Cohen hired more supervisors, there was still no accountability for the orders. Incorrect orders were returned by the supermarkets and the cost had to be absorbed by C&S. Cohen's worries also include the diminishing customer satisfaction and quality control levels that the company was known for, which have led to the realization that it is time for a change. Cohen is considering the idea of re-organizing the company into self-managed teams in order to increase productivity, efficiency and accountability. Furthermore, the idea is to enhance job satisfaction and motivate workers. Cohen assumes that the concept of the self-managed team will work well within his organization. He hopes that by empowering his employees they will "become more involved in their work and have more control over how they did their work, they will be more satisfied and more productive and feel a greater sense of pride in their accomplishments" (Delong 8). Additionally, he hopes there will be a moderate level of cohesiveness, participation and communication within the group and that each group will be able to control its members' behavior and achieve its goals. Cohen hopes that the group will realize its potential and the team work will encourage creativity and innovation that can lead to improved ways of doing business. He envisages that the employees will feel that they have a high level of skill variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy and feedback, so their motivating potential score (MPS) will be increased. Moreover,...
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