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Partexceltron: Case study

Assignment Requirements
 
 
 
You are a change consultant and Martin Stevens has contacted you to ask for your help in identifying what he needs to do in order to secure a better integrated workforce that is working to shared aims and values.
He has asked you to prepare him a report that he can use to convince the senior management team that action is imperative and propose actions that can be undertaken to secure success. Based on the information that you have, provide Martin with a report that makes recommendations for improvement, which is underpinned throughout with reference to appropriate models and theories in support of your recommendations.
You should prepare your report, addressed to Martin Stevens, and use up to 15 references using Harvard referencing system to demonstrate the techniques that can be applied to help analyse the situation and support any recommendations that you wish to propose.
Assignment Details
Course: BA (Hons) Business Management
Module Title: Managing and Leading Change
Module Code BSB10178-6
Assignment Title: Partexcelton
Weighting: 60%
Assignment Title: Article Review
Weighting: 40%
Tutors: Helene Finidori and Flora Prieto
Word Guideline: Partexcelton (Case-study) 2500: Article Review, 500
Submission Date and Time: January 22nd 2015, 15.00pm
Learning Outcomes tested:
1. Deliver and articulate a critical knowledge, understanding and analysis of change and
the management of change situations
2. Demonstrate the ability to apply theory to practice using appropriate techniques of
3. Effectively communicate an appropriate solution to a particular case under investigation.
Maximum Word Length:
State the number of words used on the assignment front sheet. You may include
diagrams, figures etc. without word penalty. A sliding scale of penalties for excess
length will be imposed according to the amount by which the limit has been exceeded.
1-10% excess no penalty
11-20% excess 10% reduction in the mark
21-30% excess 20% reduction in the mark
31%+     excess the work will be capped at a pass i.e. 40% or grade point 4.
NB. None of the above penalties will be used to change your mark which is above the
pass mark, to one that is below the pass mark. Therefore the maximum penalty for
exceeding the word limit will be a reduction to a pass grade.Assessment Brief:
Partexceltron: Case study:
TASK (60%) Word count 2,500
You are a change consultant and Martin Stevens has contacted you to ask for
your help in identifying what he needs to do in order to secure a better
integrated workforce that is working to shared aims and values.
He has asked you to prepare him a report that he can use to convince the
senior management team that action is imperative and propose actions that
can be undertaken to secure success. Based on the information that you
have, provide Martin with a report that makes recommendations for
improvement, which is underpinned throughout with reference to
appropriate models and theories in support of your recommendations.
You should prepare your report, addressed to Martin Stevens, and use up to
15 references using Harvard referencing system to demonstrate the
techniques that can be applied to help analyse the situation and support
any recommendations that you wish to propose.PARTEXCELTRON LTD, Sustaining Success or Facing Failure
©Anni Hollings 2006, 2009 & 2012
Parlexceltron Ltd is a medium-sized, family owned concern employing 106 people. Its main
manufacturing base is in the design and production of micro-chip boards for usage in the whitegoods
consumer sector. The Company was started 10 years ago by the current Managing Director,
Jack Stevens. He originally operated out of an old school but 4 and a half years ago moved to a
new, purpose built unit on the Industrial Estate just outside the town. During the early years the
Company employed 15 people with Jack and his wife Kate, acting as the managers of the
operation. Jack held responsibility for technical decisions and customer liaison. Kate held
responsibility for Finance and Personnel issues.
After 4 years the company had achieved a considerable reputation for quality work, good
delivery times and general good customer service. Orders were reaching a crisis level and the
Stevens’ took the decision to expand their operation.
A new Industrial Estate was being planned by the local council and Jack and Kate decided to
take advantage of the various Government incentives and secured units 13 and 14. Following
detailed negotiations with various contractors the company moved into the excellent facilities of
the new location 18 months later. There was an immediate expansion to 36 employees. The
impact of the delightful working environment and the reduction in pressure due to more
operatives was immediate.
Productivity rose by 15% and Jack was able to set delivery dates at times that no other
competitor could match.
Kate had spent a considerable amount of time (and expense) on ensuring that the physical
environment was as pleasant as it could possibly be. The work stations were superbly appointed,
physical comforts had been placed as a very high priority – Kate had ensured that given the
potential for job-related stress (due to the degree of accuracy needed, manipulation of minute
parts and speed of operation) the ergonomics of each person’s work area had been properly
Over the next few years the business continued to expand rapidly and the twin sons of Kate and
Jack joined the business. Simon Stevens had been through the University system and left the
London Business School 2 years earlier with a Masters Degree in Business Administration.
His speciality area was in Marketing and Sales and his father made him Commercial Director with
a specific brief to increase international sales by 50% over next 3 years. Simon had achieved the target in 12 months. The last 12 months had seen Simon attempting to secure new markets on
the basis of diversifying the product base. He had been approached by a leading European
producer of Domestic Audio Electronics who believed that the company could satisfy their
stringent requirements for high quality and fast delivery micro-chip modules. The diversification
had proved to be both highly successful and potentially very lucrative, although it had not been
without its problems.
Simon’s brother, Martin, was not like his twin. Martin had chosen not to go to University
preferring instead to spend 2 years travelling the world and then 3 years in Voluntary Service
Overseas. Rather more reticent than his brother, his forte was with handling machines and
equipment. On joining the Company his father asked him to take over the Production and
Operations Management brief. When he first took on the responsibility Martin had experienced
great difficulty in establishing a good rapport with the staff. There had been a general feeling
of resentment towards Martin, particularly from the manager of the production area, Jon Jones,
a graduate engineer and member of the Institute of Management.
Jones had considered himself to be the natural successor of Jack Stevens and made his
disappointment very clear. Unfortunately for Martin, Jones had a natural open and friendly style
with the staff and was therefore very popular. Having voiced his disappointment to anyone who
would listen, Jones was able to generate a wave of sympathy for himself and many staff
demonstrated their disapproval of the appointment of Martin by being unco-operative.
It proved to be a difficult time for the Stevens family. Kate was deeply upset by what she
described as ‘the disloyal behaviour of people she thought she could trust’. Kate had been
determined to call a staff meeting and tell them what she thought, but Martin had stopped her.
He pointed out any intervention from his mother would destroy his credibility completely, a
point Kate accepted, albeit reluctantly. Jack had been more circumspect about the problem. His
natural style was a ‘hands off’ approach. Jack’s intuition told him that Martin would probably
prefer to ‘ride the storm’ and win the approval of the staff in his own way. Simon had expressed
irritation with the situation and demanded that something be done.
His suggestion was that Jones be talked to about his behaviour, after all he had precipitated the
response from the staff and their support for him had caused some trouble with customers. To
Simon the situation was intolerable and needed prompt and decisive management action.
Whilst Jack was confident that his decision to appoint Martin had been right, and he had every
confidence in Martin’s ability, hindsight told him that he had failed to manage the situation. He
had been unfair on Jones and he should have discussed his intentions with him. However, being
‘wise after the event’ was not helpful, there were more serious problems. Whilst no-one could
be accused of ‘sabotage’ the lack of co-operation with Martin had placed some orders in
jeopardy. Delivery dates had got perilously close on several occasions and Simon had been at the
point of contacting highly valued customers to explain that the Company would not be able to
fulfil the obligation. Each time Jon Jones had stepped in and miraculously things had been done
on time.Jack was not impressed by the ploy to undermine Martin’s credibility and confidence and knew
which members of staff were responsible for the delaying tactics. It wasn’t simply Martin who
was affected. Because work was being delayed tension was rising, this was exacerbated by
Simon’s agitated behaviour because he might have to tell customers that they could not deliver.
The tension ‘fed’ on itself and during these periods the atmosphere in the Company was fairly
unpleasant. Absenteeism tended to go up and more mistakes were made. Luckily the excellent
quality monitoring system meant that the mistakes were spotted, but then Martin had to go back
to staff and point out that standards had dropped and were not acceptable.
Things had finally ‘come to a head’ 10 months ago when Simon announced discussions with a
German based company who wanted Partexceltron to supply micro-chip modules. Jon Jones had
been completely against the idea insisting that staff were already working to capacity and that
such a diversification would have a negative impact on their main product base. Martin had
supported his brother (an action which was treated with derision from Jones) but had pointed
out that the diversification was an opportunity which needed careful consideration and should
not be dismissed without due thought. Martin offered to prepare a paper for discussion which he
would present at a management meeting 2 days later.
At the meeting Martin’s paper was tabled, in it he presented his views both for and against
diversifying, concentrating very much on the benefits to be gained for the employees. Such was
the case he made that it was agreed unanimously to take on the new production opportunity. It
was also agreed that during the transition period Jon Jones would take on full responsibility for
the existing product base and Martin would manage the introduction of the new product
including new capital equipment purchases and training of a small group of staff. The target
date for product delivery was 6 months, after which time it was agreed that the production
facility would become fully integrated with all staff being trained in the new techniques.
The diversification programme went extremely smoothly with regard to the management of the
process. Martin liaised with Jon Jones throughout the period and Jones had found himself
becoming more admiring of the abilities of Martin. At first Jones had attempted to display his
supremacy by ensuring that the production of the micro-chip boards exhibited the degree of
smoothness that had been apparent before Martinis arrival, even though he was 16 operatives
short (this was the group allocated to Martin). It had not been long however, before Martin’s flair
for technical innovation and developments became obvious and Jones had found that he could
not help but get drawn into the discussions regarding the diversification programme. Martin’s
style was always to encourage Jones involvement but Jones realized very quickly that despite his
qualifications, Martin’s knowledge and skills were far more impressive than his own and that he
could learn a great deal from Martin.
After about 5 months the new team was fully operational and customer feedback was very good.
Martin and Jones had also established a very good working relationship and Jones had made
considerable efforts to put right some of his earlier misdemeanours. Certainly with the
management, group things appeared to be going very well and Simon had secured several more
contracts for the modules.Unfortunately the reconciliation between Martin and Jones had not transferred to the
operatives. Although new staff were taken on to help meet the increased demand there was a
serious motivation problem in the production department. There was a general air of malaise
about the production area which was beginning to spread to the administration and sales areas.
Whilst performance levels were satisfactory they were not reaching potential capacity. The
problem seemed to lie with those people still producing micro-chip boards, and Kate had
commented to Martin that instead of there being one team of workers there was a definite
feeling of ‘us and them’ based on ‘board operatives’ and ‘module operatives’.
Martin had agreed and pointed out that the full integration programme planned for the staffs
after the introduction programme was complete had not taken place.
Instead, Simon had secured so much in new production requirements that they needed to work
with skilled operatives and the time and opportunity to train other people had not been
available. Both had agreed that the situation was unsatisfactory and divisive and that if
something was not done soon, major problems could occur which could damage the Company’s
reputation and market credibility. That had been two weeks ago and Martin had intended to talk
to Jon Jones about his concerns. He never had the chance. Simon brought in 2 major new orders
from the Far East which needed urgent action because Simon had made promises to the
customers in order to secure the deals. The company suddenly found itself stretched to full
What had also been very apparent to Martin for some time, was that the production area was
inadequate for both activities. Module sales were also increasing and there was a real need for a
specialist area for manufacturing the modules. In trying to ensure the production targets for the
boards were met, the storage areas for parts for modules were often cluttered with board parts
and people were getting in each others way. Three months earlier Martin had been talking to the
owner of unit 12 and found out that he was intending to move. It was Martin’s intention that he
move the manufacturing facility for modules to a separate unit and had spoken to his father
about it who had agreed in principle. Martin had already drawn up a plan for relocating the
module section and had estimated that he would need 40 people to work in the new facility.
Kate Stevens had also given thought to the workplace design and environment and she was
pleased to be able to incorporate many new features that were environmentally friendly and
carbon-footprint-positive. Although full agreement hadn’t been given to the development, it
seemed unlikely that there would be a problem with getting acceptance.
The move to new premises was an exciting venture. It would send clear messages to everyone
that Partexceltron was a successful enterprise. Despite the volatility of the market, the
company was expanding, investing in new plant and would need to take on more staff. It was a
great story to tell and Martin was looking forward to breaking the news to the module
operatives. Jones would tell the board operatives at the same time. It was agreed that the
announcement would be made as soon as the full agreement had been made after the next
Senior Management Team Meeting which was scheduled for 10 days time. Unfortunately, the
meeting had been put back on three occasions because of the pressures of production and Jones
and Martin being unable to attend, as well as Simon spending so much time abroad. However, it
was considered that it did not pose a problem because it was simply a matter of formalizing the
decision.Martin and Jones had also discussed the career opportunities for some people. It was obvious to
both men that the current management structure was inadequate and there needed to be some
roles created between the section leaders and themselves. In the general discussions that had
taken place they had thought about keeping the two sections separate and having different job
and role identities for the two units. There was also a need for a professional HR person. Too
many routine activities were getting left undone. There was a niggling suspicion that there were
some bigger issues that needed addressing too, but as neither were HR people, they were not
sure of what the agenda should be. What was evident though was that lots of things that people
were doing they were doing not because the job had been designed properly, but simply because
that was how it had evolved. In fact, the more Martin and Jones discussed the future, the more
they realized that if they didn’t take serious action about structure and job design, the company
would probably grind to a standstill. It was more by luck than judgment that the company had
managed to continue to meet targets and that it was the great support of the staff who made it
At the weekly production schedule meeting attended by Martin, Jones and the 4 section leaders,
Martin’s announcement of the new orders was met with disbelief by 1 of the section leaders with
responsibility for micro-chip board production. Her immediate response was to say that the new
work could not be done, not unless people now doing the modules were returned to board
production. Martin had explained that that would not be possible because the other order was
for modules and they needed everyone who was able to produce modules working to full
capacity. The section leader then suggested that if she was to go back to her staff with the
proposed schedule there would probably be a mutiny. The board operatives, she explained, were
sick and tired of being classed as second-raters. They worked just as hard, if not harder, than
their colleagues producing modules but they did not get any thanks for their efforts and got less
in terms of break periods and worse working conditions.
She also stunned Martin by telling him that the board operatives considered it to be very wrong
of the management to continue to pay 2 separate rates of pay. All the operatives had understood
that after the initial group of 16 had been trained, everyone would be trained and would
therefore achieve parity of pay rates. As it had worked out only the elite few had the
opportunity to do the better work and earn higher wages. She then suggested that such was the
level of disenchantment that several operatives had been looking for other jobs. Things were
about to come to a head in the production department, the new work was supposed to have
given everyone better opportunities, instead the management had managed to split the
workforce in two and just the favoured few were having a good time. It was becoming more and
more clear to the workforce that the management did not care. Parlexceltron had been a great
place to work but not anymore.
Another section leader had nodded her head in agreement at the outburst. Both Martin and
Jones were speechless. Neither man had been aware of the growing tide of resentment. Both
had assumed that everyone was satisfied with the working arrangements and pay rates (which
were some of the highest locally), although Martin had been aware of the tension between the 2
emerging factions. Of the 84 operatives, 28 had been trained to produce the micro-chip
modules, obviously Martin was going to have to act immediately but with the pressure of Simon’s aggressive sales push forcing production to capacity loading it was not going to be easy. Martin
had been thinking about taking on 12 new operatives but now wondered whether this would be
inadvisable given the poor employment relations that existed. His intuition told him that it
would be better to resolve the major problems facing the Company before throwing new staff at
the sales demands, but how were they to meet the production obligations to which Simon had
already committed them, if staff were unwilling to co-operate and were dissatisfied with their
work experience?
If that wasn’t enough, another of the section leaders stepped forward and left Martin and Jones
wondering how things could have got so bad. There they were with such a great story to tell
about the new unit and here were their staff telling them how bad things were for the workers.
But it was what the section leader told them that left Martin in no doubt at all that they had a
need for major change. The section leader said that in his time at the company he had never
had any reason to believe that the management had ever hidden anything from them or ever
told them untruths, but his mate had been told that the company was downsizing and moving
into unit 12 within 6 months. If that was the case, then it was clear that there would be
redundancies and that given the success of the modules, they were likely to be the untrained
board operatives who lost their jobs. Many of them had been with the company from the
beginning and were devastated that no-one had said anything to them, that they had found this
out from a friend of a friend. The workers could not believe that they had been so ignored, that
having trusted the management for all this time, they now felt worthless.
Martin could not believe what he was hearing. What he did know was that rather than fuel any
other rumours and misinformation he needed time to construct a proper response. He told them
that there was no truth in the company closing any part of the operation but that he needed to
talk to everyone as soon as possible. As they left the meeting Martin considered his position. The
issue of trust was serious and he had never felt before that he was a man who could not be
trusted. For many years the managers at all levels had worked hard at establishing a culture of
support and high commitment and to hear that it had been so fragile and so easily destroyed was
painful for Martin. Now not only was there the move to consider and how best to achieve that,
there was the need to restructure and the need to address the potentially damaging toxic
culture that had developed.
 
 
 
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