Morale At B R Richardson Timber Product Corporation Business Essay


This is an assignment about B R Richardson Timber Product Corporation, which is all about the change intervention the company has tried to seek after morale of most employees went down and productivity decreased.

While standing in the shoes of an OD consultant, I have made an attempt to analyze the case taking the information gathered by Lawler, a consultant and his two students. The analysis part goes from diagnosis to the program management, which is shown below:

QN1.Analyze the information gathered by Lawler and his team and identify the issues facing the company

In order to analyze the information gathered by Lawler and his team, it is put under organizational level and group level diagnosis model for comprehension;

Company's General Environment

B R Richardson Timber Products Corporation's (BRRTPC) external environment is only moderately uncertain and not very complex. Market condition has been good. Overall business is in profit. The economy is stable enough regarding lumber and lumber products. Lamination plant is giving good profit to the companies since it was started. Politically, The company is composed of four small companies viz a logging operation, a lumber mill, lamination plant, and a mill lies in a countryside with an open yards and dirt connecting road. The lamination plant is noisy from saws, conveyors, and hoists, and especially the planner. The lamination plants and a mill are about fifty yards away from head office. The yard is graveled, with lumbers of all kinds piled up and car parks around the edges.

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Company's Industry Structure

It is a family held corporation. The company dispersed in four different geographical locations with its divisional structure, three in Papoose and a mill in eastern Oregon. Timber purchases are made from Forest Service and BLM. Approximately 70 percent of laminating plant lumber was purchased from outside and remaining from Richardson mill. Outside purchases are primarily from Orgeon companies -Weyerhaeuser, Bohemia, Georgia-Pacific, and smaller ones.


 The corporate organization appears to have divisional structure, while the lamplant appears to have functional structure. It has ignored innovative management trends that have emerged over the last decade and now seem to find it caught in the trap that comes from not taking advantage of new efficiency systems. By having waited, several cracks in the structure have been identified within the organizational structure as a whole and it is having a negative impact on operations. The structure is weak due to many factors from lack of technology integration to inability to establish teamwork within the organization, which would allow the introduction of new ideas and innovations on a consistent basis for the continual improvement of operations.


The laminating plant has been growing ever since its inception, it is very profitable and busy, yet Richardson seems to be reluctant to spend money to expand the facilities and to upgrade the machinery and technology, and hire additional staff. Adequate communication at all levels is lacking, and the proper lines of communication are not followed. 


Richardson seems to have focused on cost control strategy. The company tightly controls costs, refrains from incurring unnecessary innovation, human resource development and even hesitates to maintain a good health and safety standard. No formal mission or goals are mentioned in the case and this makes it somewhat difficult to judge the effectiveness of the strategy.

Human Resource System and Measurement System

Company's human resource system is underdeveloped as there is no human resource department. So, Human Resource Development Programs are disregarded. There is no performance measurement system in the plant. The company has conservative philosophy regarding compensation benefits; rewards and recognition which is evident from few selected top management were only given bonus if had to. Incentive for safety has been introduced but not implemented well. Even very loyal and committed employees are not recognized and rewarded for their contribution in the plants. Creation and retention of talents is not thought about.


There is little specific information; Richardson's culture can be inferred. Most of the supervisors and managers are production oriented do stretch the target and force employees to do the overtime beyond their limit. So, work unrest, dissatisfaction, and frustration are quite common. There is apparent of 'do or die syndrome' in the organization where employees either have to work long hours or get fired. Company takes lightly to those employees working with hernias, back pain, and broken fingers just by saying they had medical coverage for this. There is lack of humanitarian values and care in the organization which is forcing even the loyal and devoted employees to turn to be different. Team spirit in the company is very low as hard workers are neither paid nor cared.

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Goal Clarity: Senior management has some goals in their minds and talk occasionally. It shows company does not have clear, written and communicated goal.

Team Functioning: Managers and Supervisors show their own style of working. Employees actions and behaviors are completely controlled by their superiors. Employees are forced to sit for the overtime. Lack of team support for the hard works shows that there is no cohesive team who work actively and energetically together for the achievement of a common goal.

Group Norms and Composition: Everyday following the routine tasks and suddenly accepting the overtime with a command from the supervisors has been norms of the group members. And there is no combination of skills, experiences and abilities within group members.

Task Structure: Employees are monotonously doing their routine task. There is no job characteristic model where employees can have different taste of the job. Supervisors give order to do the jobs in particular way shows that there is not autonomy, nor feedback is given how the task was performed. Even after witnessing a fatal accident of one subordinate, they are forced to continue their task. Besides few supervisors, most of the employees never feel any impacts of their task has made to others. There is no task significance nor have been recognized for the task well done.

Issues Facing the Company

There are various issues which are inhibiting for the organization's and team effectiveness. They are mentioned as:

Such a big organization runs without Human Resource Department is a very big concerned and is quite a serious issue

There is no effectiveness, open and transparent communication between shift supervisors and managers, supervisors and top management and between top management and CEO. Supervisors and managers not to hear even there are any changes in schedules and not to know about the implicit goals of their department is quite a serious issue

Company neither has clear vision and mission, nor has strategic goals is a big concerned

Some managers and supervisors are discarding all the emotions of their subordinates and treating them as like a machine rather than human body is a big question of humanitarian values

Companies not to have linked to employees performance and contribution to any rewards system is unconvincing

Lack of enough staffs to carry out the additional work load and to eliminate work stress of the existing employees is a threatening issue

Company to take so lightly to the health and safety issues of people by just saying there is insurance coverage for them who are losing and going to lose fingers and toes in the machine is disgraceful

In the request of making ventilation to the metal building a little bit more in the extreme summertime where people lost 5 pound in a single shift, management to think about expense to create ventilation is pathetic

Most of the supervisors and managers lack leadership and showing authoritarian style is unsound and proves to be one of the challenging issues in the company

QN2. Assume the role of Lawler and write a report to the management team of BRRTPC presenting your findings and your recommendations.

Mr. Richard Bowman

B R Richardson Timber Corporation

P O Box 66

Papoose, Oregon

Dear Mr. Bowman,

After the Diagnosis of your organization, I have found the following results:

Strength of the Plant

There are many loyal and highly committed employees who are the biggest assets of the organization

Most of the managers and supervisors are very high in KSAs and have strong leadership potentiality

Introducing a 'softball team' is quite a healthy sign of bringing employees wellness program in the company which eliminate work stress of employees

The plant is very efficient in execution of strategy

Problem Areas

Overtime is the biggest problems in the plant. Workers are being stretched and pushed for working overtime beyond their limit which is making dissatisfaction and stress to employees. And unrest and upset workers are the vulnerable to fatal accidents.

There is no effectiveness, open and transparent communication between shift supervisors and managers, supervisors and top management and between top management and CEO. Supervisors and managers do not hear if there are any changes in schedules.

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Health and safety issues are very serious which prime cause for creating low morale of employees. Employees are working with back pain, hernias, and broken fingers or toes are demeaning the repute of the company.

Employees' turnover is threatening to the organization that is induced by lack of induction and orientation program before sending workers to the job; and it is strongly due to lack of human resource development programs.

Unrealized Opportunities

There are many potential leaders in the plants who are untapped and unexploited. They want to work hard, achieve the target and want to be professionally developed.

Employees are willing to demonstrate organization citizenship behavior provided with work support, listen their concerns, and help them to solve their work-life conflicts.

Workers are very enthusiastic in their works and they could drive their energy further if they could be given rewards and recognition timely with performance appraisals systems.

Employees are likely to enhance their work performance when they are put under training and skills development program.

Top management if practice 'management by walking around' style by the visiting the plant time to time, it would create a good image and culture in the company.

Company does not have clear vision, mission and objectives and goals mentioned and communicated. A clear defined such mission and goals would develop mental image of the possible and desirable future state of the organization.

For any kinds of changes and strategy formulation and execution, if the employees were invited to take part in the discussion of how changes should be implemented, it would create a strong sense of family culture and ownership.


The following non-training issues need to be addressed to help ensure effective operation of the plants:

Raise and immediately change the health and safety standard of the plant to bring the employees moral back to the organization.

Hire people to relieve the employees to minimize overtime and work unrest to reduce accidents and health issues.

Set up HR Department in the organization in order to make the smooth operation of the plant- for aggregate HR Planning and Succession Planning ; and carry out the Human Resource development programs to in order to attract and retain employees and to create intellectual human capital for the organization capability.

Set up a formal appraisal system where in one session the owner sits down with the top management and supervisors to discuss performance and set objectives. In another session performance development is discussed.

Use objectives set for the year and clarify how rewards (bonus, pay raises, and so forth) will be tied to the objectives.

Determine the mission, goals and objectives of the company and the aspects of the performance focused on.

Training Needs

Several training needs were evident after the diagnosis of the organization beyond what was indicated by you. Specific to those issues, however, supervisors and managers were particularly candid in indicating that they had never exposed to any type of feedback or communication skills. They had no knowledge or skills in these areas. Attitudes in these areas were mixed.

A partial list of training needs includes lack of knowledge and skill in:


Effective Feedback

Measuring Employee Performances

Team Building

I believe above mentioned are the discovering from my analysis. When you and Mr. Richardson have considered about these training needs, give me a call. I'll be prepared to outline what I see as the cost of training while designing the particular training course.

Thanks for giving me opportunity to work as a consultant. I have enjoyed meeting all of you and your team and have learnt more about your company's culture and systems.


Jack Lawler

Partner, Oregon Consulting Associates

QN3. Examine the client-consultant relationship in the case. Assuming that the management accepts your recommendations, draft out an agreement for the OD work you will undertake at BRRTPC.

We go through the following points in order to understand client-consultant relationship:

Entry of consultant began after the mutual agreement from both parties of going for organizational diagnosis before conducting the motivational course. Lawler's entering process was faulty, his contracting was deficient. A proper entering process is a necessary prelude to developing an excellent contract. Lawler's contracting was inadequate and came down to a verbal agreement between Bowman and himself, in which it was agreed that Lawler would conduct a one day visit to the plant with several of his graduate students to gather information, which Lawler would then analyze and present to the company. Lawler would bill for three days of his time, plus the expenses incurred when he and the students visited. Lawler's contracting did not clarify how the OD process would proceed, it did not establish and elucidate the expectations of the parties, the time, and resources that would be expended, and the ground rules under which the parties would operate.

 Given the gravity of the underlying problems at the plant, and the fact that the OD practitioner was external to the organization, a more formal, structured, and informative contract would have been appropriate. There was no indication of mutual agreement as to the expectations of the parties involved, nor the services and outcomes to be provided by the OD practitioner, except the rather vague "more adequate diagnosis was probably a useful first step" comment made by Bowman, and that Lawler would make a one-day visit to the plant. 

Lawler's contracting did not adequately cover the three key areas of contracting viz., setting mutual expectations; the time and resources that will be expended; and the ground rules for working together. It did not cover how Lawler was going to gather the information, who would be involved in providing this information, and how much of the staff time would be required away from their jobs taking part in interviews.

Draft Preparation

While creating the draft the first step will be to develop the learning objectives.

Learning Objectives:

Some of the learning objectives are as follows:

The trainee will, with no errors, understand function and direction of communication, the communication process as well as different type of communication - Interpersonal, Organizational; and barriers to effective communication.

Open and transparent communication will be practiced as a part of organizational culture

Trainee will develop the habit of "first to understand then to be understood" reinforced by empathic listening. It will solve inter-personal conflict; enhance collaboration, communication and cooperation in the work place.

Managers and supervisors will be taught how to catch a person doing right thing and give appreciation to the person for the job well done. After completing of any task, employees will get immediate feedback.

Trainee will know how to use constructive feedback and how to practice it in the work place to motivate employees. This will be facilitated by role play and some simulation exercises.

Trainee will know why and how to link employees performance with the company's goals and objectives and how to develop expectancy theory amongst the employees to enhance their motivational level.

Organizational Objectives

Teamwork and team building will be developed which will solve most of the conflicting issues and bring co-operation and collaboration in the organization and create a good cultural climate.

Organization will start using performance appraisal system to measure employees' performance which will energize employees to work with expectation and linking appropriate rewards with it will brings motivation to employees.

Organization will introduce Job Characteristic Model, where employees are allowed to expose in different skills and works, and eliminate to a great extent to their boredom and anxiety.

Each of the training topics will take three hours and stretch for three days. Maximum fifteen people will be in one training session. Top management will sit for two training session- Communication and Measurement of employees' performances.