Manners Europe is the USA based multinational company with operational sites in the Netherlands and Belgium. It operates as suppliers of materials for construction and home improvement. Although the mother company has different industries situated in various countries in the world, most of its profits have been obtained from wholesale and retail sale of forest-related products and lumber in the US. For the last four years, John Wilman has been the Managing Director of Manners Europe. Within the period during which the company has been operating in Europe, a commendable success has been attained, which also was accompanied by diverse operational setbacks and downfalls. This paper is a report on the managerial problems experienced by Wilman in his efforts to fulfil the organisational mandate of Manners Europe Company.
Growth of trade and commerce on a global scale has resulted in diverse and broad markets. Market expansion, upon its emergence has encountered varied operational difficulties due to people having different and distinctive lifestyles, which are governed by cultural beliefs. The diversity, which emanates from cultural differences, presented organisational challenges to managers of various multinational businesses such as Manners Europe (Aycan et al 2000). This have narrowed performance and complicated the process of achieving the apparent business objectives. The main influential cultural values are those related to family structure, religious beliefs, education and legal systems, as well as labour organisations.
General performance of Manners Europe has eventually been affected, as these beliefs have dominance in people’s thoughts, actions, and character hence affecting ability to perform. Employees, who largely contribute towards progress and productivity of an organisation, have had problems coping with managerial policies which contradict their cultural norms. Therefore, it was difficult for John’s managerial team to introduce and interpret competitive decisions, which are vital for the company’s performance, especially when they differ from cultural practices of the workforce. An introduction of unfamiliar policies would result in employees’ reactions, which might be either positive or negative. Therefore, this move can be risky and might lower productivity within Manners Europe.
Manners Europe Company has been faced with this particular problem, especially in regards to the personnel management. It has been expensive to maintain competent personnel from the United States; therefore, John’s management team has upheld the organisational policy of recruiting employees from areas surrounding various operational sites. With the rate of unemployment as low as 2% in the Netherlands (Horgan 2003), John’s management team had a limited labour supply. This has made recruitment process harder and more complicated especially since job applications have become very rare within the country. Managerial attempts to advertise through newspapers have received mild or no response, because multinational companies have negative credibility in the society. The company’s human resource department was left with a narrow option of hiring under-qualified personnel. This has negatively affected sensitive positions like those of accountants and junior managers as their individual performances had to be closely supervised in order to ensure accuracy and efficiency (Briscoe 2009).
The majority of the available workers was incompetent, unreliable, disloyal and, moreover, the workers have lacked urgency in matters concerning their area of operation. It has been particularly difficult to introduce and implement a competitive strategy, aimed at elevating commitment and productivity level, specifically in regards to off duty hours. Wilman’s managerial attempt to introduce an overtime incentive program was simply not practical, and the majority of the employees would not consider their work above their leisure time interests. Besides, some claimed that it is against their customs to work overtime. However, in Belgium such moves were proved to be successful.
Furthermore, John’s incentive programs application as a way of motivating the workforce was literally turned down. The mentality of Dutch workers relies on a give-and-take system. They argued that since they give 100% service, they are, therefore, entitled to 100% returns (Horgan 2003). The Dutch people also have a negative attitude towards US companies as they regard them to be demanding, excessively hard working and strict in supervision. Therefore, it was challenging to implement a strategic policy aimed at accelerating the production rate, as this would be perceived as an oppressive practice. In Belgium, national differences affected the employees’ loyalty and submission to the leadership of a General Manager, because he was a German. The workers have also had a social notion that the salary increase should not be according to their performance, but rather it should be done with respect to one`s accomplishments and social status such as age, education, financial needs and marital status, for example, a married person should be rewarded above a single person and higher salaries have to be paid to better educated workers.
The legal system in the Netherlands has also been unfriendly to Manners Europe operations (Horgan 2003). It tends to be overprotective of the natives, seeking to deny the Wilman’s managerial power to pursue irresponsible employees. For instance, a bank restricted the management from exposing the conduct of an employee who was caught in a theft. The state regulations forbid firing a worker who has been in service for more than two months without indisputable evidence of a serious offence like theft. This has adversely limited managerial authority making it difficult for the management to exercise control over employees, which led to laxity in the workplace.
John’s management both in Netherlands and Belgium has experienced difficulties while hiring employees. There have been several weaknesses related to this. These include:
- Limited labour supply across the country with various particular regions of operation having zero percent applicants. In addition to this problem, mainly to maintain reputation and status, unqualified individuals classified their expertise above its actual level. The consequences are inefficiency and low standard individual output due to lack of experience.
- Very few people, especially in the Netherlands, would voluntarily agree to work with Manners Europe Company simply on the ground that it is an American enterprise. The United States corporations are regarded unfriendly and oppressive in terms of strictness in the work place (Horgan 2003). This aspect of stereotyped American company limited the possibility of hiring qualified personnel as many seem to prefer working in European firms, which were less competitive and under lower supervision. The few who applied emanated an intention of seeking to learn the Manners Europe Company business strategies.
- International differences and attitudes have been inhibiting the attempts to hire qualified personnel from other countries, where they are available. Hiring employees from Germany had resulted in strong resistance in Belgium via the authorities and nationals.
- Academic expertise was rare as those who claimed to have attained course degrees failed to perform as expected. It was difficult to obtain highly skilled and competent personnel to meet company’s labour requirements. There were cases where employees with low, inadequate and unproven academic knowledge had problems accepting their specific job allocations, claiming that those positions are less their capacity. They were aspiring for positions in higher offices.
- Government regulations on employees’ turnover had also discouraged the process of obtaining experienced and competitive labour force. Labourers slacked in their performance and were uncommitted to their duties because of the security of tenure provided by the governmental policy.
Human Resource and Planning
In Manners Europe Company, the human resources management process carried out in a productive and competent manner had also experienced constant drawbacks. Due to low rate of employee`s commitment, it was not possible to implement flexibility in work practices. This was an attempt to pull away from directional strategies in order to attain a properly designed HRM system.
It has also been difficult to identify the employee’s competencies necessary to achieve company’s goals and to develop competitive plans of reaching the targeted level of production. This was a consequence of high demand in the labour market which had lowered healthy competition in performance. The aspect of limited labour supply had frustrated John’s managerial attempts to attract, access, and assign the required workforce. This had further crystallised into limited chances of building and reinforcing performance and proficiency both on individual as well as on teamwork basis.
Transfer of information between John’s management team and the workforce experienced continuous challenges. The employees manifested a tendency of operating in opposition to managerial policies. This has resulted mainly from the fact that the majority of personnel, especially the Dutch, have had a prevalent attitude of disapproving managerial leadership due to the notion that the US companies strive to reach their goals through their employees’ exploitation.
There have been indications of disloyalty as most of the employees tend to give their personal issues priority over any managerial directive. There was a case, where strategic administrative decision was ignored even after an ample circulation of information to the parties involved. This was rather discouraging for Wilman’s future strategic policies. Employees have had selective acceptance of John Wilman’s managerial structure. This has clearly displayed communication barriers, especially in the case when management officers were from another country. A sample case was experienced in Belgium, when the employees would not accept the management, because the General Manager was a German. These factors have deprived the management of ample implementation of the required change, since a lack of organisational cooperation had blocked the chances of achieving satisfying progress.
Wilman’s management team has struggled in efforts to introduce employees’ higher performance stimulus. Attempts to use remuneration methods of motivation have proved to be less powerful. A strategic policy to offer incentives based on commitment and performance through initiating an overtime program was enacted by the Finance Director Tom Steiga. This received a negative response as many employees disapproved the short term projects, and termed the provision of bonuses unnecessary, since they believe that remuneration should be a fair exchange for the service provided. John’s efforts to initiate policies to accelerate employee’s commitment and the use of subsequent employee-oriented benefits have gone unnoticed as European workers find it hard to substitute their personal interests with job demands (Noe et al 2006).
Wilman’s managerial body extensively leaned on using HRM practices as the main strategic means of reaching the organisational goals as well as maintaining a competitive vigour in the market. So far, the managing body has made efforts to uphold and highlight its supremacy. However there have been managerial and operational hindrances. These problems are based on several factors.
Labour regulations by the government have restricted Wilman’s managerial authority and control over employee’s performance and discipline. Efforts to enhance quality output and innovation through the workforce have been hindered by the lack of qualified and experienced personnel (Hofstede 1980).
Cultural values of the workers made it difficult to introduce and affect managerial practices (Hofstede 1993). Negative attitudes towards Manners Europe being a US firm have substantially reduced managerial authority; therefore, John’s management team had to lessen some of its authoritative influence in order to boost cooperation. It was difficult to anticipate productivity due to endeavours restrictions to meet and accomplish its mandate. Despite the managerial hindrances, the management has done the best eradicate any form of managerial slack or compromise.
Manners Europe had prevalent setbacks regarding expertise maintenance. The available personnel have had inadequate capability in providing quality performance. In most cases, employees have been using their qualifications mainly as a tool to negotiate their payment. The aspect of training has been regarded as a way to acquire social and professional titles rather than a method of perfecting performance (Papalexandris & Panayotopoulou 2004). In fact, personnel’s reluctance and failure to execute their duties competently and with full utilisation of their skills and knowledge competitively were the main cause of low productivity.
Consequently, the above drawbacks are subject to critical resolutions if the company is to fully execute the mandate towards meeting its organisational goals and objectives.
The setbacks facing Manners Europe demand urgent and critical solutions. To ensure prosperity of the firm, the managing director should be flexible, efficient and be able to manage the challenges effectively. This section of the paper provides recommendations for Mr. Wilman, as he evaluates his actions over the next two and a half years, and about what the company should consider to address these problems.
Firstly, the managing director should establish the solution to the problems that emanate from cultural differences. The majority of employees in Manners Europe are finding it hard to cope and accept managerial policies, which contradict their religious and cultural beliefs. The first recommendation to address the issue requires identification of the managerial policies that interfere with employees` cultural and religious beliefs (Aycan et al 2000). Once identified, Mr. Wilman should then determine the appropriate organisational management policies that accommodate different cultural and religious beliefs (Aycan et al 2000).
Secondly, outstanding problems Manner Europe experienced while recruiting workers, especially from the areas surrounding operation sites, were attributed mainly to low unemployment rate in the Netherlands and negative credit given to multinational companies. To address this, Mr. Wilman should first adjust wages offered by the company to match or go beyond those of domestic companies. This will cause workers to shift from domestic firms to his company. The company should also establish a program to educate the under-qualified staff and offer personal training for each recruit to ensure company obtains the highly skilled and competent personnel that meets the labour requirements (Begin 1992). Manners Europe should establish policies and practices that will be used to recruit, manage, develop, and maintain the highly qualified staff. The firm should also hire several expert workers from the USA and different parts of Europe to provide guidance and a role model for the under-qualified staff.
One of the main issues the company faces is lack of employee’s loyalty, commitment and urgency in dealings regarding firm’s operations. This proposal recommends a managing director to establish a policy that will ensure greater employees’ participation in managerial decisions and strategy mapping concerning issues related to the firm’s competitiveness and performance. (Delery 1998). This will build a team of devoted and motivated employees, who would feel valued and elated by their participation in the company’s decision-making. According to HRM, this technique makes employees feel they own the company, and that boosts their loyalty and commitments.
The firm should find the means that will merge company’s regards with managerial interest. This will help to avoid potential conflicts that arise between employers and employees caused by differing interests, which can be achieved through establishment and promotion of internal negotiation mechanism, e.g. joint consultations, collective bargaining and dispute settlement systems. It is also recommended to form a union of workers, which would help to provide a better channel of communication, when a conflict or a need to pass messages arises.
Excessive assessment and supervision is despised and regarded a way to exploit workers. To curb this, it is recommended that the management of Manners Europe Company offers flexible working time for the employees. While the level of general income has increased, free time for leisure and other personal activities has diminished significantly. The management of Manner Europe Company should offer flexible working periods and promote this benefit in the recruiting efforts when offering interviews. Most employees may either be having a second job outside civic compulsion in order to subsidise their income or they may be pursuing a hobby or a talent like athletics or soccer games. Flexible time would ensure all this is achieved and, thereby, increase productivity through incentives.
The managing director should ensure there is an open flow of communication from the top hierarchy to the lowest, and that all employees have access to information and resources. Mr. Wilman and the entire management team should also achieve and nurture good relations between employees from other countries and local workers. This can be supported by the sample of Human Resource Management, which treats all employees fairly and equally and offers similar job assignments conducive for the teamwork.
The managing director should ensure that workers do not feel under or over utilized. This will guarantee they are satisfied with the management, their career support and different tasks they have to face. Secondly, the company should share arrangements by paying high wages attributed to employees’ participation that excess the basic performance. Mr. Wilson should research ideas that motivate and help workers to be committed since these are the basic essential conditions for success of the organisations. It is also recommended that the company management work with local organisations to improve relations that have deteriorated over time and resulted in most Dutch workers viewing the American firms as exploiters. The company should link with local companies, colleges, and local high schools. This is a good way to create a network to attract new customers and hire better employees.
The managing director should make a shift from motivating employees through remunerations such as bonuses and other financial incentives to best performing employees increased contribution and participation in managerial decisions, such as issues of payments and methods of improving company’s competitive strategies and performance (Horgan 2003). This can also be achieved through promotions for the most hardworking staff and trips to other countries to experience other companies’ organisation and working conditions. Happiness has been proven to be an efficient productivity booster (Begin 1992). The management of the Manners Europe Company should work toward keeping their employees happy in order to increase returns through enhanced productivity. This can be achieved through such means as pre-tax thrift-savings programs, recreational programs, discounts, scholarships, personal financial planning loans, tuition refunds and profit sharing, giving company cars to eligible workers, personal expense account introduction, parking privileges, employees’ legal assistance, prolonged or extra vacations to exceptional performers, child care facilities and also professional or trade association memberships and free travel.
It is recommended that the managing director should strive to counteract boredom caused by monotony at work. It has been observed that even the most hardworking and competent employees get bored with their job, if it seems monotonous. The monotony can be broken through work rotations and new task assignment or exposure to different divisions. Additionally, Mr. Wilson should find ways to make workers happy and to enjoy their work. Apart from working conditions and other cultural practices implemented by the company, the director should devise ways to make the job challenging and interesting. The company should also set realistic goals that will be perceived by the workers achievable.
The manager should also improve his relations with the employees by ensuring he has a word of encouragement for every employee. These will make them feel valued and also help them to advance. Mr. Wilson should also find new innovative methods that will spur employee’s motivation, such as organising outdoors conference, parties and holidays that are fully catered by the company. These aids to keep the employees happy which in turn makes them work harder as they feel their efforts are recognized.
In conclusion, it has been noted that in the Netherlands people do not engage in work merely because there is a salary at the end of the month. The managing director should establish an inspirational leadership and then apply an engaged performance model that will boost employee’s motivation and commitment. The director should access and identify the need and priorities of the different segments of the company. To encourage the employees meeting organisational goals requires creating an effective system for continuous performance dialogue. This will have to include real change in both employers and employees behaviors. If the people in high position change, this will in turn send message to those at lower levels and then the changes will be experienced by all employees. Mr. Wilson will be required to adopt an efficient managerial style that will ensure a working environment, where engaged performance is possible.
Mr. Wilson should develop a HRM policy that is efficient enough to change at all levels of the organisation, a managerial structure that with major functional flexibility that is not rigid, bureaucratic and hierarchical. To achieve organisational flexibility and adaptability, the director will have to include more work training, job organisation, consultations and skillfulness to avoid excessive job divisions.