The American automobile industry has historically been one of the largest employers of the country. During the recent years however, the industry has suffered massive demises and was forced to downsize its staffs. Some of the challenges which faced the automobile industry included the forces of globalization which intensified competition, the changing consumer demands, the fluctuating prices of oil or the very threat of global warming.
But the more recent and most severe challenge was raised by the internationalized economic crisis. Commenced within the American real estate sector, the crisis soon expanded to the automobile industry, the furniture, electronics and virtually all commercial sectors of the economy.
General Motors was one of the companies worst affected by the economic recession. The organization was forced to downsize, restructure its debt and request financial aid from the United States Government. These solutions have generated some short-term gains, but the long-term stability of the company is yet to be attained.
The recession as such impacts the firm and the customer base and prevents profitability from increasing. Nonetheless, the firm should use the current time in efforts to reconsolidate and strengthen itself from the inside. And when the crisis is overcome, it would be able to reemerge and attain its objectives.
2. Company description
General Motors was founded in 1908 in Michigan by William C. Durant and it operates in the automotive industry. The company produces automobiles and sells them throughout the entire globe. The automobile sector represents the largest operation and revenue generator at General Motors, but the secondary operation is represented by the provision of financial services. With the aid of GM Financial Services, General Motors offers financial solutions to those interested in purchasing the GM automobiles, but it also diversifies its business operations and penetrates new industries and domains.
General Motors currently employs 209,000 individuals and registers total revenues of $135,592 million, a notable increase comparative to the 2009 revenues of $104,589 million. Still, the company has a long way to recover and outpace the sales of 2006, which were higher than $200,000 million (General Motors Company 2010 Annual Report). Still, the increasing revenues of the past two years indicate that the company is on the path to overcoming the crisis.
The recipe to overcoming the recession was a complex one for General Motors, but the company has used the time to create a new business model. It has commenced by creating a new managerial team that would lead the company to new successes. From a financial standpoint, increased emphasis was placed on the possession of vast liquidities and the minimization of the organizational debt. This strategy was derived from the massive exposure the company faced at the onset of the current crisis.
Aside from the financial commitments, General Motors has also implemented a wide array of strategic efforts to reshape its internal features and strengths. It for instance redesigned its organizational culture from one focused on gains, into one focused on sustainability and responsibility towards all stakeholder categories:
"Our vision is simple, straightforward and clear; to design, build and sell the world's best vehicles. That doesn't mean just making our vehicles better than the ones they replace. We have set a higher standard for the new GM -- and that means building the best. […]
We are making major strides in becoming a GM that works smart, thinks big and moves fast. The new GM culture values simplicity, agility and action -- making and implementing decisions faster, pushing accountability deeper into the organization and demanding results from everyone. There's never been a greater need to change, and there's never been a better time" (General Motors Company 2010 Annual Report).
All in all, the new business model at General Motors is focused on the following features:
A higher threshold for risk, materialized in strategies with a significantly lower profile of risk
The commitment to developing world-class vehicles that drive innovation, quality as well as profitability
Emphasis on financial stability, revealed in a healthy balance sheet
The consolidation of a leading position within the global market, especially in emergent and growing markets
The usage of the latest technology to develop the vehicles and support the attainment of the organizational goals
Higher levels of customer engagement through increasing emphasis on customer input, as well as the creation of customer value and experience as a source of competitive advantages (General Motors Company 2010 Annual Report).
3. Team implementation
As it has been revealed throughout the previous section, General Motors is learning the lessons from the crisis and is implementing them in order to enhance its long-term stability and avoid similar problems from reoccurring in the future. All the strategies above mentioned are essential to this desiderate, but one aspect which has been overlooked is represented by the new role of the employees.
The staff member at the General Motors Company now represents the most valuable organizational asset. The employees are the ones that implement the devised change process and they are the ones who directly influence its final success rates. In this setting then, it becomes obvious that the organization has to place an increased emphasis on the staff members. It has to train them better, motivate them better and it has to succeed in implementing a team environment.
"The team is the central hub of work productivity and communication and the best place to ensure the well-being of an organisation. Teams usually consist of people with different skills and personalities who perform complementary job tasks" (Job Access, 2010).
The need to implement a team environment at General Motors is essential especially now as the company reshapes itself. It has to create a strong team environment in which the employees collaborate and support each other and the company in attaining its objectives. In other words, the team environment would improve the quality and effectiveness of the organizational processes and would help General Motors to attain its scopes.
The actual mechanisms as to how the team environments support organizational quality and effectiveness are rather complex. Still, the underlying idea is that the team represents the multitude of people working together to attain a common goal. The individuals in the team possess different features, characteristics and reveal various strengths and weaknesses. On their own, the individuals will be marked by their own shortages. Within a team however, the individual weaknesses are limited, whereas the strengths of the team members are capitalized upon (Kiev, 2008).
At a more detailed level, a team has the ability to increase the efficiency and quality of the work through the following:
Due to the distinctive features of their members -- such as education, personality traits, previous expertise and so on -- the teams can produce a wide range of ideas that better support problem solving and which also promote development and innovation
Within the context of a team environment, the organizational employees are able to motivate each other, and as such promote performance and commitment to organizational goals
The team members will as such support each other in attaining their professional goals, but their relationships will expand outside the organizational climate. This further improves the dynamics of the group and the quality of its final results.
Within the context of the team environment, ideas are better tested and discussed and the chances of adequate strategic implementation are increased.
The team environment allows the organizational staff members to develop meaningful relationships through which they can develop professionally. For instance, more experienced employees can mentor the novice staffs and can as such increase the performance of the team without generating additional costs for the management (Call of the Wild).
All in all, teams are able to increase the performance, efficiency and quality of the organizational efforts through their innate support and development of collaboration, communication, commitment, realism, a doable pace and accountability of actions (Dettmann, 2000).
4. Plan of action
The team environment is a crucial feature to the success of any organization, but even more so in the context of General Motors. The company is still striving to revive after the economic recession; it still faces threats from the external environment and -- despite its sustained efforts -- it still reveals internal weaknesses. In order to further develop its position and increase the chances of its strategic successes, the managerial team at General Motors should develop and implement a comprehensive plan to creating the team environment within the firm. Some notable program and practice solutions in this sense include the following:
The unification of the goals shared by the team members. At this level, it is essential to unite the goals of the team members among themselves, but also to ensure the unification of the team goals with the overall goals of the company. When these goals are all integrated, the staff members combine their efforts to attain the objectives of the company and maximize the company's chances of success (Scheimann, 2009).
Building trust among the team members. A team where trust…