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Organizational Behaviour Case Analysis

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In the case ‘Leading Change at Simmons’, the fundamental issue for Simmons Company is whether or not it should go ahead with Eitel’s proposed idea of a culture change program which would cost $7.2 million at a time where the company is encompassed in a myriad of problems and severe economic crises’. The program has had initial success but its future profitability still remains largely uncertain due to high levels of stress and resistance to change found amongst the company’s employees.

Analysis and Evaluation
Simmons is a well-established, trademark producer of bed mattresses but the company’s organizational structure is not in line with its promulgated set of cultural values of ‘CHOICES’, that promote a friendly, engaging and rewarding system for the employees. The majority of the many plants owned by Simmons operate as a type of monarchy with the general manager perceived as the dictator imposing his/her own rules and regulations without any regard for the working employees. This creates high stress levels among the workers due to constant work pressures from their leaders and an unfavorable work environment with strict rules created to maintain operational discipline (such as a sergeant walking the paths of plants as if on patrol). The plants also compete with each other rather than collaborating with little or no information being shared among different plants. These hindrance stressors debilitate the workers’ morale and profoundly affect productivity.

Eitel forms a strategy to change this culture of dictatorship in most plants and instill a working environment similar to the company’s Janesville plant which produces the highest revenue of $150 million out of the total $900 million due to a friendly and stimulating culture of work where the employees are given rewards for performance and have a say in major decisions.

From the very beginning of his tenure, Eitel stimulates a culture of innovation by promoting a new, redesigned version of the beauty rest mattress by using a $9 million ad campaign, which fetches an increased 25 % of sales for the company. He also fires 14 people in the executive ranks at a cost of $3.8 million to centralize the company and maintain long tenure in the management in order to ensure legitimacy and knowledge of how to obtain desired outcomes. These steps are aimed to equalize power and improve trust and support among the workforce, which should lead to organizational development.

Eitel’s main strategy is based on a program called the Great Game Of Life. The aim is to enable employees to surpass self-imposed limits and allow better cohesion among teams by passing them through various, exhilarating physical tasks. His program is in conformity with the rules of Lewin’s Three-Step Model to some extent, as the leaders of the company take up the tasks first. Eitel’s main aim by this is to unfreeze the status quo and reduce the restraining forces, which are the main impediment to change. Although the executive management acknowledges the program’s effectiveness, it doesn’t agree for it to be passed on the workforce due to a high resistance to change. They perceive it as a potential threat to established power relationships because of current structural and group inertia within the organization. The management executives are accustomed to micromanaging in a dictatorial style and feel threatened by the possibility of change so both factors of habits and security as individual sources of resistance come in to play here. Group inertia and threat to expertise are also exhibited when the executives dismiss the program in unison, terming it to be ineffective despite any concrete evidence backing their claims.

It is clear that there is still high resistance to change among the workers at Simmons. Eitel’s actions are well-versed and headed in the right direction as the Great Game Strategy produces radical and positive results when it is implemented in the extremely segregated Charlotte plant. However, he still falls short on developing positive relationships among the executive committee as he goes on with his strategy without their approval which creates distress and results in a couple of resignations by the managers as well.

To overcome this resistance to change, it is essential that Eitel form positive relationships with his workers along with good support and commitment. He could do this by encouraging better communication in the company and educating the management about his plan by communicating the logic of his proposed changes. If the employees see the full facts and solve the misunderstandings, resistance should subside. This can be done by allowing the employees to develop and form the plans to introduce changes with him which would allow for enhanced participation and acceptance of the change as the employees would have a sense of ownership in the change made which will make it much easier for them to conform once everyone is on board for the decision. Eitel should also make sure that all changes are fair to everyone and do not come of as being biased which could create discrepancies among the workers.

Other than that, he should focus on activities such as intergroup development, which seeks to change the groups’ attitudes, stereotypes and perceptions about each other through training sessions, which focus on differences among occupations, departments, or divisions within an organization. Interpersonal relations, goal setting and team building activities should also be carried out to create trust and openness among the team members. Opinion polls such as the survey feedback could also be carried out to expose the covert side of resistance to change among employees and then actions to improve cohesion could be taken accordingly.

If there is strong resistance from certain employees he should replace them with people who are more susceptible to change, as there is a huge difference in personalities of different people due to external or internal factors.

As his program has radically turned around production and employee attitude at the Charlotte plant, I think the company should proceed with the program as it has all positive results till now and could allow for greater profits and job satisfaction, similar to the change in the Charlotte plant.

One leader I think would have improved the situation at Simmons would be the cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan. Imran is a recognized and well-reputed leader by everyone around the world due to his many accomplishments when put in the seat of power. When he was the captain of the Pakistan cricket team, he completely changed the outlook of the team. The team was down and out in the 1992 world cup when he provided the players with inspiration and allowed for unity and cohesion, which unbelievably lead the team to victory.

Similarly he is the owner of the world’s largest private cancer hospital and a new university city, which are both funded by charity. He is also the president of Pakistan’s popular and fast-rising political party (PTI), which is considered to be a major contender for the next elections. These achievements along with a sense of equality and justice for all make him an ideal candidate for such a position as he is able to foster and unite even the most dispersed of crowds and would have worked along the lines of these recommendations if he was in place of Eitel.

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