Human Resources Research
Cable industry began to develop in 1950s. New opportunities were created for the industry in 1970s. However, cable operators were still in a bad position comparing to satellite TV broadcasters. One of the reasons for such situation is high degree of regulation in the industry. For instance, operators’ profit margins have been proposed by the local governments. The situation changed in 1980s, when the industry was deregulated. It has changed the character of competition in the industry. Cable operators are forced to compete not only with each other, but also with satellite TV, broadcast TV, and even videotapes. This is the reason why companies were forced to meet those new challenges of competition.
Time Warner Cable was not an exception. The company’s managers believed that innovations and changes in customer service and marketing should create additional core competencies for the company. As a result, respective changes in the overall organizational culture had to be made. Tharp Bruce analyzed all the issues related to organizational culture in the modern world. Organizational culture can be an additional competitive advantage in the modern conditions of growing competition and consequences of the global financial crisis. Tharp defines organizational culture as a set of a company’s values and principles, according to which its business is performed. List of these values and their priority are extremely important for successful business in every industry.
From the very beginning the company has not paid enough attention to marketing. For example, the company’s staff was divided into 4 departments – business, customer service, sales, and technical. Thus, there was not marketing department in the company. It was a great mistake, which now should be solved. That mistake was based on wrong principles of organizational culture. The company’s managers believed that customers should come to them and ask for a service. It was an absolutely wrong approach. The reason for it was quite simple: profits were the main value for the company. The biggest value for any company is customers and their needs. The company must convince a customer that it is able to satisfy his/her needs in the best way. It can be done only via aggressive marketing, especially in the modern conditions of tough competition. That is why establishment of effective marketing should be the first and the main objective for the company.
The second important value in organizational culture for any company is an employee. In fact, a company’s performance crucially depends on its employees. Success of a company is success of employees. After all, employees work with customers – the first value of a company. Customers associate employees of the company with the company itself. That is why it is very important to have happy and professional workers.
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The company under focus faced some problems in relations with employees at the early stages of performance. According to McKinnon’s words, bad morale of employees was the biggest problem of the company in 1980s. The cable industry in general was at the stage of formation in 1980s. Its development was supported by technological problems and, respectively, complaints of customers. Not every employee could stand such pressure. A lot of employees fired. People considered Time Warner Cable as a stepping stone for further career. High turnover of employees was a typical situation. That situation has affected the company’s corporate image and, in the end, financial results.
The second objective for the company is to avoid such situations in future. It means that the company should have trained personnel. Continuing education and training of employees should be an integral part of the company’s performance. Employees should be not only professionals, but prepared for stressful situations and communication with customers. Generally, employees of the company should be convinced that they are an integral part of the company’s success. This is a great instrument of motivation together with financial bonuses.
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Finally, the last but not least significant problem in the company’s organizational culture is absence of effective organizational planning. Before McKinnon’s coming to the company, it had been developing without clear goals and plans. In fact, it had been one of the reasons for employees’ reluctance to work for the company. A new manager changed the situation, and now the company’s development is supported by effective business strategies and goals.
Generally, the company under consideration has three main objectives on the way of improvement of organizational culture. These objectives are the following:
- The company’s performance should be made according to clear goals and plans;
- The company’s employees should be trained professionals;
- Effective marketing campaign must be conducted.
The objectives can be reached via implementation of the following steps:
- Marketing department must be created or some external marketing agency may be invited via outsourcing;
- The company must create HR department and establish programs of continuous training and education of employees;
- Warner Cable’s managers and shareholders should adopt overall business strategy, tactical objectives and plan of their realization.
It has been already mentioned that one of the biggest company’s problems in the context of organizational culture was absence of effective training programs for employees. Also, the company did not have appropriate stimulation practices for employees. As a result, Time Warner Cable was characterized with high employees’ turnover.
Also, it has been noted that the new manager of the company, McKinnon, has changed a lot in this context. Generally, he was a great innovator in many areas of the company’s performance including development and training of employees.
It is not a secret that changes are always a stress for companies and employees. In general, people do not like to change. Innovations are not always met with pleasure. The case under consideration was not an exception. Not all employees were happy with McKinnon’s attitude to the employees and business in general. In order to solve the problem, McKinnon should address the following issues.
First of all, it is important to build an effective communication channel between McKinnon, other managers, employees, and external partners. He should have an effective instrument to explain stakeholders the motives, possible outcomes and effects of his decisions. One of the main reasons of resistance to innovation is absence of information about it. That is why any innovation and any decision must be explained.
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Second, McKinnon must create an effective team of professionals. As it has been already mentioned, it can be done via constant training and development of employees. At the very beginning Time Warner Cable should invite an external agency to build training process, since the company does not have an appropriate experience itself. This agency should have great experience in HR and positive name on the market. The agency will build a training plan and programs of education for the future. In the end, the company will be able to perform this function itself.
All training and educational procedures should be performed according to a training plan. This training plan must include: a list and description of training procedures; name of people and departments responsible for employees’ education; clear deadlines of every educational program; professional requirements to employees; a list of key performance indicators, etc. This plan must be divided into strategic and tactical tasks. Efficiency of the plan should be evaluated according to realization of every tactical or strategic objective.
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HR agencies may develop not only plans for professional development, but also leadership plans. Any company should have not only professional employees, but also informal leaders that will unite the rest of employees around the company’s goals and values. Development of leadership skills should occupy special place in the training plan. It is important not to mess leadership with management. Management is rather a formal category, while leadership contains informal relations between employees.
It has been mentioned in the previous question that presence of information is extremely important for effective decisions and performance of a company. In order to address all the issues mentioned in the case, it is important to have appropriate data. The biggest problem that is considered in the case is professional development and training of employees. The company’s goal is to form a team of professional employees that will be able to meet all the needs of customers. It has been stated that a special training plan must be developed. However, there is a problem in indicators for evaluation of efficiency of this plan.
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First of all, the company’s managers must know what skills of employees must be developed. Such data can be received only via appropriate analysis of employees’ qualifications. At the very beginning such analysis can be made by a special outsourcing agency mentioned in the previous question. Required skills and qualifications should be divided into professional groups. Every group should be analyzed independently. However, some final and complex exploration should be performed.
Also, it is important to account employees’ expectations towards training and work in general. These expectations can be analyzed via simple interviews with all the employees. It can be done by the company itself. The task is quite simple – to ask employees what they expect from their career in the company, what are their goals and values, whether they are similar to the company’s values.
Mallaiah (2009) in his article explains the simplest and effective way of analysis of employees’ expectations. These instruments are simple enough to be realized independently. Also, he analyzes the ways, in which these expectations can be managed in order to meet the company’s values. These instruments are broader that simple financial and social stimulation.
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There is another side of the problem. The company must know customers’ expectations from employees, too. It has been mentioned in the first question that customers associate the company with performance of its employees. Expectations of customers should be learned via a complex market research. Once again, it would a better decision to invite a professional outsourcing agency to conduct such a research. After all, both groups of data should be combined in order to develop effective training plan and form a team of professionals.
The size of data is going to be tremendous, because of large size of the company and its business. Respectively, this work may take a lot of time and financial resources. However, this work is going to bring significant benefits in future that will be higher than the initial costs.