Comparison of company strategies - Essay Example

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In this discussion, we shall compare the HR practices of Ryanair and 3M to illustrate these differences. Alignment between strategy and organization is critical to meeting the firm’s strategic objectives because organization and strategy are interdependent. …
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Q2. Identify the potential difference in human resource management (HRM) policies between two organisations where one follows a low-cost strategy andthe other follows a differentiated, quality enhancement strategy.
Alignment between strategy and organization is critical to meeting the firm’s strategic objectives because organization and strategy are interdependent. In strategic HRM organizations seek to link human assets to the strategic needs of the organization. As a company seeks to deepen its current advantage or build new competitive advantage, it has to change the way it deploys its resources. This implies that if the organization follows a differentiated, quality enhancement strategy then selection, promotion, rewards and so on should be oriented towards hiring and rewarding the creative and innovative members of staff while for an organization that is following a low-cost strategy its HR policies should be geared towards staff that are good at following rules, maintaining discipline and cutting costs. The firm must create an organization that supports the changes it needs to make. In this discussion we shall compare the HR practices of Ryanair and 3M to illustrate these differences.
3M has been able to retain its market leadership through technological innovation, market responsiveness and institutionalized entrepreneurship. Being a company that pursues a differentiation strategy, 3M manages its HR practices in a way that ensures entrepreneurs are rewarded and recognized, in both monetary and non-monetary terms. The organization also offers a dual-ladder career track. This allows 3M employees to continue pursuing their professional interests because they are guaranteed of progress irrespective of their field. Most of all, at 3M managers are taught to support employees who are involved in failed projects by quickly moving them on to something so as not to kill their initiative. Employees are also granted “bootleg” time to spend on projects of their own interest that may not be directly related to their day-to-day activities.
On the other hand, Ryanair is an airline company that utilizes the low-cost strategy as a competitive advantage. This implies that for Ryanair to remain competitive it must provide incentives to its staff that reward implementing cost-reducing process innovations. The company also uses performance pay for its sales staff to reward them for sales volumes, so that the firm can take advantage of savings associated with economies of scale. Ryanair’s focus on lowering costs has made it to be renowned for having a very tough, rigid approach in the way it treats it employees. This can be directly attributed to the firm’s strategic focus, which is in not to be superior in customer service per se but to be the airline that offers the cheapest, no-frills flights in Europe.
In summary, it is evident that an organization’s strategic focus determines its HR strategy and policies as well. Organizations would encourage their employees to perform those actions that sustain its competitive advantage and steers it towards achieving its long-term goals. This is well-illustrated by the very different approach of 3M’s reward schemes for innovation and tolerance of failure in comparison to Ryanair’s.
Q3. Use the job enrichment model of Hackman and Oldman (1980) to explain what steps you might take as a Manager to evaluate and increase the motivating potential of a job.
According to Hackman and Oldham job enrichment is a qualitative change to a job that increases the degree of autonomy, feedback, and significance of the job, enabling workers to have greater control and feedback in their work environment (Feder 1999). However, Feder (1999) argues that very little is known about which aspects of the redesigned job are in fact responsible for observed behavioural and attitudinal changes. This implies that some job characteristics are more powerful than others and thus as a manager one has to be careful in evaluating the steps to take to increase the motivating potential of a job.
The first step that the manager should take is to conduct an organizational diagnosis to identify the specific problematic characteristics. This is because the job may demonstrate some significant levels of individual enriched job characteristics. Such jobs are referred to as partially enriched jobs (Feder 1999). By conducting an organizational diagnosis the manager should be able to come up with the motivating potential score (MPS) – an index of how likely a job is to affect an employees attitudes and behaviours – for a given job. The five core job characteristics are skill variety, task significance, autonomy, task identity and feedback.
According to Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory extrinsic factors (hygiene) have less effect on motivation than intrinsic (motivators). Dealing with extrinsic factors may reduce dissatisfaction, but have no effect on satisfaction. Therefore once the manager has come up with an MPS for the job he could focus on improving the intrinsic factors of the job that would improve its MPS. This may include activities such as increasing accountability, learning opportunities, recognition, and so on. According to Feder (1999) one should introduce motivators singularly in populations having low growth-needs.
However, the manager must be wary of two major challenges to increasing the motivation potential of a job: access to resources necessary for a job with enriched duties and the relationship between the supervisor and the subordinate after the job has been enriched. Enriched jobs require that employees have access to greater quantity and quality of work information which may lead to conflict with between a supervisor and his / her subordinate. After all the above have been taken into consideration, the manager could follow the propositions of Anon (2010) to make the job more motivating: (1) vary work to enable skill variety; (2) increase the wholeness of the product produced by assigning it to a group; (3) nurture responsibility by delegating tasks to their lowest possible level; and (4) connect staff to the customers of their work so that they may receive feedback for learning.
Anon, 2010. Hackman and Oldham job characteristics model. YourCoach. Available at: [Accessed May 10, 2011].
Feder, I., 1999. Customized job enrichment and its effect on job performance. Dissertation. New York: Baruch College.
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