Understanding Employee Inputs In Management Decisions

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This is a report on an assessment of how an Australian firm in South Africa, Fun Voyage amusement parks, can integrate and raise the belief among their employees that they are involved in the management's decision making process. This follows a survey in the country that demonstrated that employees feel that their inputs are not considered in the organization's decision making process. For the report to make effective recommendations, the genesis of the belief will first be analyzed, after which the appropriate alternatives for generating a effective solution will be explored. Based on the problem analysis, the report will make inferences on premises, then relevant recommendations will be generated. The report will be guided by the model of decision making proposed by Bartol et al (2008) captured by the scheme below:

Figure 1. Decision making model (Bartol, et al, 2008)

Step i. The problem

The big picture that comes out of the problem is the one stated in the survey, "the feeling by employees of having no input in the organisations decision making process". The decision process, as identified by Ranyard, Crozier and Svenson (1997, p. 3), comprises cognitive processes, motives and mental representations. The employees in Fun Voyage Amusement park may feel isolated out of the decision making process if they are left out in any of these processes. As such, the first step in solving the problem by the management would be to evaluate why the employees harbour such a feeling (Baron, 2000). A number of factors may have contributed to the belief. Chief among them, identified by Briley (2007) is the cultural background of the employees. According to Briley (2007), individuals with diverse cultural backgrounds have different norms, values and expectations which tend to influence their decisions and judgement. Noble, Sander and Obenshain (2010) argue further that cultural diversity is a fundamental factor in the decision making process. This implies that there could have been factors inherent in the South African employees culture that influenced their belief that they were left out in the decision making process. When comparing the culture of South African employees and that of their Australian management, Hofstede in Itim (2010) found out that the South Africans have low individualism index than Australians; a lower individualism implies that they believe more in team work and consultations as opposed to their Australian counterparts. Conversely, their Australian counterparts have high individualism, which shows that they believe more in individual accomplishments as opposed to consultative decisions and actions. As such, the survey findings could have originated from these diametric cultural dimensions in which the Australian owners due to their culture are more oriented towards making individual assessments and decisions (Hofstede, 1984). The problem therefore can be dissected as follows:

The management is culturally individualistic, hence finds it convenient to assess situations and make decisions with little consultations.

The employees' cultural background values consultation. When the employees cultural values are overlooked, the belief that their inputs are not considered is generated.

Once the problem is well-outlined and understood, the next stage will involve evaluation of existing alternatives that can effectively solve the problem.

Step ii. Alternative solutions

The alternative step is the ideas generation step. Considering that the problem has been identified, the management at this step should come up with a strategy that would allow stakeholders to brainstorm the problem and seek to come up with ideas for solving the issue. This step involves identifying the antagonists and other relevant parties. For this problem, the stakeholders include the company's management, the employees (or their representatives) and possibly third party analysts that can act as advisors or arbitrators during the ideas brainstorming. As outlined in the problem identification, the primary cause of the belief among the South African workers could be stemming from the cultural diversity between them and their management. The solution therefore lies in generating a compromise position between the two parties so that the weakness generated from their cultural diversity can be arrested and directed in the right way. The alternatives available for this problem include;

The management to appreciate the cultural needs of the employees; that they are used to consultations and would require that in all actions taken by the company.

The employees to appreciate the cultural background of their management and therefore get used to individualistic decisions being adopted by the company. In this case, the employees would be made to understand that when the company makes decisions, it means good and has no motive of leaving them out.

To generate a compromise strategy by forming a panel in which the management together with employee's representative would hold consultations when decisions for the company needs to be made.

Develop a strategy in which all employees would be allowed to contribute to major decisions through avenues such as suggestion drop points in the company or in the company's intranet.

The alternative generation stage should simply be one for generating the alternatives. The proposed alternatives should be written down with little changes to ensure that the full views of the contributor are taken into consideration. The management should utilize this stage to incorporate as much views from the employees. A wide based contribution would improve the management's understanding of the problem and possibly improve the decision making process.

Step iii. Evaluation and Choice of alternative

Bartol et al (2008) identify this as the third fundamental stage in the decision making process. In the diagram above, the step is indicated as fuse, an indication of the evaluation of factors that needs to be catered for before adopting a decision. Such factors include: a) the decision environment; this could include achieving the level of satisfaction desired by the stakeholders, b) the risks associated with each alternative, and c) the ultimate goal desired by the organization (Drucker, 2001). The first alternative above will achieve the level of satisfaction desired by the employees but may deny the management team the chance to manage naturally. If the management inhibited their cultural values and yielded those of the employees, there's likely to be situations when the management will feel short-changed. If the second alternative is adopted, the employee's cultural values would be subdued and as such, they would offer their efforts to the organization mechanically. This has a risk of leading to low motivation and consequent low productivity. The third and fourth strategies are representative. By combining the management and the employees in a compromise strategy, the management would get a channel to air their views on decisions as well as appreciate the input of the employees or their representatives. Similar to this is the fourth strategy; by allowing employees to forward their suggestions on issues, the management would open up the communication channel and through proper evaluation of suggestions and consequential implementation, the employees would feel incorporated in the decision making process. The third and fourth alternatives present the management with a number of benefits, which would be used as a base for their adoption. These include:

Being representative

Striking a compromise

Ability to meet the objective of incorporating employee's input in the decision making process.

Step iv. Implementation

The adoption of a decision should be based on the set objectives (Resnik, 1987; Beach, 1990). In this report, the objective is to understand the source of employee's belief of alienation in the decision making process and develop a solution for it. Based on benefits and risk mitigation evident in the third and fourth strategy, the alternative that best work would be a hybrid strategy between the third and fourth alternatives in which employees would be allowed to forward their suggestions which would then be deliberated upon by a panel consisting of both representatives from the management as well as employee's representatives. Once the decision is adopted, an effective implementation strategy would be to use the panel that made the decision in formulating step-by-step actions that would actualize the adopted decision .

Conclusion

The feeling of alienation from the decision making process by employees of Fun Voyage amusement parks is a product of varied factors primarily that of the cultural diversity between their Australian managers and themselves. While the Australian culture promotes high individualism in decision making, the employee's South African culture promotes a consultative approach. The alternatives to solving the issue include the management acceptance of the employee's requirement for consultation in the decisions process or its promotion of its culture in which the employees becomes recipients of its decisions. There is also the option of creating a panel of representatives from both the management and the employees, as well as including the employees by creating channels for forwarding views and suggestions. A hybrid strategy that incorporates a panel of representatives as well as collection and evaluation of employee's suggestions is evaluated as the one having the lowest risk and being most representative. Additionally, it achieves the objective of overcoming the employee's belief of being alienated and as such, is adopted as the best strategy in this report. To effectively implement this strategy, the next section outlines the recommendation of this report.

Recommendations

To constitute a decision making panel comprised of representatives from the management and the employees.

To create an avenue for employees' suggestion of views such as a physical suggestion box or a suggestion point in the company's intranet.

To design a formal decision making strategy that outlines the procedures of making decisions as well as the role of the management and employees in decision making.

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