Reviving a Company: How to Bring New Life to a Mature Business
An Independent Learning Project
Poly-Metal Finishing, Inc. is a company that has had a successful history of more than thirty years in the metal-working industry, providing complete anodic service to the aerospace, military and commercial sectors. I have worked for this company for eight years and am now part of the management team.
With a change in management has come the need for a revision in management philosophy. We have seen an erosion in employee dedication over the years, partly as a result of somewhat authoritarian and outdated leadership philosophies. We have undertaken to research and analyze the factors that experts have determined are essential to the creative health of a company and how this climate can be brought about. Our goal is to preserve the positive elements of PMF, while correcting the negatives, with the aim of re-energizing and revitalizing the company. This paper explores useful paradigms from which we can begin our task, and identifies the steps we will need to consider to bring about dynamic change.
Title Page Number
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Literature Review
Chapter Three: Methodology
Chapter Seven: Conclusions
Statement of Learning
Chapter One: Introduction
Poly-Metal Finishing, Inc. (PMF) has been my employer for the past eight years, and has my respect as a fine company. It has been in operation for over thirty years and has a combined experience in the anodized aluminum field of over one hundred fifty years. It has always been a world-class company in its dedication to preserving the environment and dealing in an honest and ethical manner. A number of its policies with regard to its clients are above and beyond the standards of the industry.
However, in spite of all these evident strengths, the original manager and founder was succeeded by a management team that adopted a totalitarian style of leadership. Gradually the confidence and cooperation of the employees begin to erode, and were replaced with cynicism and negative attitudes. The company slowly became neither the best nor the most enjoyable place to work.
Within the last year, a new management team, of which I am a part, has replaced this unsuccessful structure. Now as one of the top managers, I have set myself a goal to see things turn around, and the company to become the world-class business it once was. The new management team and I share a vision of moving the company forward to a new and higher level. We are aware of the work and dedication that this process will involve, and know that pitfalls await us. However, we are encouraged by our commitment to a common goal, and by our knowledge of the company's innate potential.
I am taking the opportunity to use my Independent Learning Project to explore ways in which the new management team can attempt to decide on strategy for PMF. Now is the time to determine what steps we will need to take to change the course of the company. With the impending retirement of the current president of PMF within the next few years, the task of running the company for the next few decades will fall on the shoulders of three of us. It is our goal to make PMF a strong, viable, long-lasting company, one that we will be proud to say we manage.
It is my personal goal to make PMF a company of choice. What do I mean by that? We all must work for a living. Since we must work, it seems obvious that those years would be better spent in a pleasant, stimulating, rewarding work environment, one which enhances our overall sense of purpose and pleasure in life. It is my goal to make PMF a company that will attract the best and brightest of employees, and give all of us a sense of accomplishment in what we do.
The current president and we three vice presidents have common ideals and visions, and it has been a satisfying process to be able to work together and create a shared dream for PMF. One of our objectives is the empowerment of the employees, in order to create a dynamic, powered-from-within organization. However, because of the prevailing negative attitude of the workers, we have realized that this change in atmosphere will be a challenge for us. We believe it is essential to somehow overcome this cynical attitude, and we hope to be able to effect a positive change, so that the workforce as it is can move on to a more meaningful and productive relationship. We have accepted, though, that not everyone will choose to make the transition and that some of the employees will inevitably choose to leave PMF. If that is the case, we will have to have created a paradigm for finding and training new employees who will fit with the empowered and re-energized company.
With all these goals in mind, I have attempted to find a point from which the management team can begin the change. I have assembled our current system of beliefs as they are spelled out in our company literature. Then I have researched current thinking about how successful organizations can and should be run, and what management's responsibilities are to facilitate this productive climate. This findings, and a series of suggestions for how to implement the most relevant of them at PMF, are summarized in this paper.
These ideas will obviously be of great benefit to the new management team of PMF. In a sense we are fortunate to have the successful history of the company on which to build. The setback that the company has experienced is not drastic, by comparison with some. However, it is serious enough to send a wake-up call to us, and to motivate us to try every means possible to recoup the strengths of the past, and hopefully even to surpass them. On the other hand, we are to some extent bound by the company's very success, to preserve as much as we can of its heritage. Because of this, we are constrained to work with some existing systems, whereas a new company just starting up, although it would lack PMF's evident strengths, would also have the advantage of starting with a clean slate.
It is my thesis that there are many American companies in the position of PMF. They are mature and successful, yet in some way the honeymoon luster had worn off. There is some disillusionment and disgruntlement in the ranks. While there is not open revolt or strife, the team spirit is just not there. No one presently employed at the company is directly to blame, yet all share a certain ennui, a TGIF attitude. The changes in world economy, and particularly in the wake of the events of September 11, will test the mettle of all companies. Those who are divided in their purpose and not wholeheartedly involved in their business's success may be the difference between survival and failure for the enterprise in the years to come.
Therefore, I hope that I have managed to keep the findings of my paper general enough to be useful for any company in PMF's position. I have researched the beliefs of many entrepreneurial gurus, and attempted to summarize those which are most concerned with bringing about attitudinal change. I have tried to discover how successful leadership teams revive a spirit of enthusiasm and candor in their employees. I have also tried to determine how these shifts in philosophy affect the company's relationships with their clients, suppliers and communities.
A firmly believe that this project, if carried out with vision and vigor, can transform not only a company and the individual in it, but corporate America, and I hope my small part will prove valuable to PMF and to other companies like it.
Chapter Two: Literature Review
In this chapter, I will summarize my research into the writings of various entrepreneurship or management gurus who have developed theories for effective leadership, over the past two decades. Many of these authors have been chosen because of their field research. They have conducted their studies on actual companies, some of which rose to the challenge and some of which failed to do so.
I have attempted to choose the most relevant studies to PMF's particular situation. In thinking about the strategic direction that PMF must decide upon, it seemed to me that the current situation involved three inter-related yet distinct factors: our relationship with our customers, the morale of our workforce, and the challenge of initiating cultural change in an existing business.
Therefore, I have divided my research into the three areas just mentioned, and have attempted to trace a logical development of theory in each of these fields.
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