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FMC Aberdeen

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The improvement of management practices at both structures, FMC Aberdeen and FMC Green River, would take significant effort, at least due to the fact that both plants are functioning reasonably well at the moment. This fact is corroborated by rising productivity at both facilities and impressive financial performance. In the process of change implementation, however, differences in the operations process at the two plants have to be born in mind. The primary difference is the number of customers, about 100 of clients worldwide at Green River and a single government structure for Aberdeen.

Apart from showing improved performance, Green River would have to persuade its customers of the improvements in an attempt to secure new orders. For Aberdeen this problem could be solved by negotiating with one set of counterparts, but Green River would literally have to ‘market’ its innovations to its customers, persuading them that quality will not be impaired by organizational change. Besides, Green River management has to reckon with a well-established culture aged decades and a conservative leadership at the United Steel Workers of America. Therefore, the organization’s external environment allows less flexibility although does not eliminate potential for change.

To embark on a program of change, the management at Green River has to consider inviting people who have really ‘lived’ Bob Lancaster’s style so that they can offer first-hand experience to assist the plant manager in change implementation. Besides, they can offer interesting perspectives on how their job satisfaction was enhanced by Aberdeen philosophy.

From the analysis of the case it can be concluded that job satisfaction at Aberdeen was promoted in the first place by employee empowerment and elimination of sense of fear. In many environments anticipation of failure can be a significant downer that deducts from satisfaction. On the contrary, Herzberg’s study leading to the formation of the theory of factors has found that responsibility is one of the major factors contributing to job satisfaction (‘Motivation in the Workplace’, n.d.).

Aberdeen has been successful in boosting organisational commitment, mostly through giving employees possibility to feel greater affiliation with the company. Corporate culture that included delegation of greater responsibilities to employees worked in Aberdeen case to boost employee morale. Green River management has already embarked on this way, but it needs to go a step further to reform its traditional practices.

This can be a challenge since neither executives nor employees can be ready to embrace change at this pace. Other parts of corporate culture that Green River can borrow from Aberdeen involve trust; participative-management style; emphasis on innovation; team organisation. Incorporating these elements in what is now a stable working environment can be a challenge.

FMC Green River can also profit from using Aberdeen’s practice in the area of organisational ethics. Employee morale will rise only in response to the managerial openness and widely demonstrated commitment to professed ethical norms. At Aberdeen, the simple, outgoing conduct of the management worked to prove the participative style of the management. Team spirit, responsibility for each other’s work and credo based on quality work can all be employed at Green River.

A point where Green River management can copy the process at Aberdeen to small details is the introduction of new selection criteria. The rigorous screening process involving a group of assessors can be transplanted to Green River to ensure a fresh blood supply of new entrants, perhaps in some ways better prepared for group work than existing employees. The Green River management can design its own exercises related to technical skills; otherwise, most or all exercises can be borrowed from Aberdeen plant. This can be accomplished via creating a committee including HRM professionals of both plants.

At the same time, Aberdeen, too, may be facing some challenges. Organisational culture that is in close relationship to the leader’s personality can be threatened by the departure of its founder. Aberdeen got on well without Bob Lancaster when it had Jeff Bust, but then the new manager Roger Campbell had to spend some time grasping the legacy of the predecessors.

Arrival of some traditionally-minded manager can endanger the unique Aberdeen atmosphere. Another possible challenge can be career development. The materials of the case study are rather vague about promotions and the speed of ladder climbing an Aberdeen employee could reasonably expect. Acquisition of new skills can be of little use to some Aberdeen employee willing to relocate and continue the career at some more traditionally structured organisation.

To overcome these challenges, Aberdeen can try in the first place to develop an organisational setup that will ensure regular availability of home-grown managers ready to take up the challenge of supervising the whole plant. The plant manager can experiment by allowing prospective candidates to run the plant for a certain time period to be tested for maturity and suitability for the position.

Besides, negotiations with the headquarters of FMC may be necessary to ascertain that the new manager is selected with due consideration of the plant’s history and culture. To realize adequate promotions, Aberdeen management probably has to devise a system that will put their qualification standards in relationship to broadly accepted position terminology to ensure that workers feel they are rising to new positions as a result of skills acquisition.

References

Clawson, J.G. (1990). FMC Aberdeen. Graduate School of Business Administration University of Virginia, UV A-OB-0385.

‘Motivation in the Workplace’. (n.d.).  BizHelp24. Retrieved on August 25, 2005, from http://www.bizhelp24.com/personal_development/motivation_theory_importance.shtml.

Williams, J.R. Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment. A Sloan Work and Family Encyclopedia Entry. Retrieved on August 25, 2005 from http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/wfnetwork/rft/wfpedia/wfpJSOCent.html.

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