Best Explains Resmeds Approach Commerce Essay


Maintaining a strong, competent and productive workforce is a management imperative for all organisations. The two components of retaining the good employees you already have as well as attracting great new staff are important factors which influence the motivational approaches used by organisations (Nankervis, Compton & Baird 2002). These approach(es) are not uniform, indeed a company that is genuinely interested in the motivation and empowerment of its staff must first understand the people in its employ and what motivates them in a working environment (Tovey, Uren & Sheldon 2010).

In the ResMed case study, the workforce is described as an entrepreneurial, educated, high-energy and culturally diverse group of individuals (USQ 2012) and the motivational approaches applied by ResMed take into consideration, to some extent, this staff demographic. This can be seen through the use of motivational approaches centred around higher level needs outlined in Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory, that is; Esteem and Self-Actualisation (Wood et al. 2010, p. 84) or as Alderfer outlines in his ERG theory; a primary concern with the desire for growth and personal development (Wood et al. 2010, p. 87). This is evidenced through ResMed's implementation of the internal award given to selected employees; The John Wickham Memorial Prize for Innovation as well as the opportunity for further development through the incorporation of study opportunities and leadership programs (USQ 2012). This desire to appeal to the staff members' higher order needs is also coupled with benefits such as 'stock options, salary continuance, life insurance, income protection and rewards and recognition programs' (USQ 2012, p. 21) which appeal to the more basic, Existence needs outlined by Alderfer as being driven by the desire for material and physiological wellbeing (Wood et al. 2010, p. 87).

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While the motivational approaches applied by ResMed do tend to consider the educated and entrepreneurial demographic by favouring the higher level needs of its employees, some key factors have been overlooked when constructing these motivational approaches. The first to note is the immensity of the cultural diversity of the ResMed community, with 'around 47 nationalities represented in its workforce' (USQ 2012, p. 21), this is not something that can be ignored when evaluating the motivation of staff. Various studies have shown that different cultures vary greatly in terms of the importance and hierarchy of needs in a working environment (Wood et al. 2010, p. 86). It is therefore essential for ResMed, in consideration of the cultural diversity in its workforce, to investigate further the culturally significant motivators in workplace behaviour of its employees.

Further to this evaluation of the relevancy of the workplace demographic on motivational approaches, the case study, although briefly mentioning the lack of women on ResMed's Board of Directors does not outline the gender or age make up of its workforce. This would also be essential to consider when addressing the motivation and empowerment of employees as studies show motivating factors often differ between genders (Chang 2003) and the employee's stage of life (Bright, cited in Wood et al. 2010, p. 86).

To facilitate this analysis of the demographic and what motivations are relevant to staff, the organisation needs to organise a way in which staff members can provide feedback. Involving staff in the formulation of rewards within a performance management system is an ideal way to ensure that staff feel valued by the organisation (Tovey, Uren & Sheldon 2010) and to demonstrate that staff have agency and involvement in strategic outcomes of the company (Millett 1998). It is also the most obvious and effective way to ensure the reward itself is pertinent to staff and therefore a driver in motivating their behaviour in the workplace (Tovey, Uren & Sheldon 2010).

In order to generate this feedback, it would be necessary for ResMed to provide staff with an outline of workplace initiatives that would improve both the hygiene factors and the motivator factors for employees as described in Herzberg's two-factor theory (Wood et al. 2010, pp. 89-93). That is, ensuring the working conditions are such that dissatisfaction is minimised coupled with motivating factors that increase an employee's level of satisfaction. Herzberg's theory, however, is not able to be applied unilaterally to all workplaces and employees. Indeed, some of the hygiene factors mentioned; Administration, Supervision and Work conditions are actually shown to be classified as more motivating or rather de-motivating factors when dealing with highly creative individuals (Isaksen & Lauer 2002). In this way, Herzberg's list is viewed as a continuum of factors that can either minimise dissatisfaction or increase satisfaction (depending on the individual), rather than a classification of two distinct groups, and therefore; provides important factors to consider when addressing motivation in staff.

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Taking into consideration these factors, ResMed could provide a broad scope of initiatives to appeal to staff in a number of ways. For example; making some portion of development funding available for facilitating research which may be outside the scope of that typically explored, something bold and innovative, to be pitched by individuals or teams. The use of free time or free space to work on creative ideas could also be used to motivate staff (Clements-Croome & Baizhan 2000), or the opportunity to develop research partnerships with other sectors that also use breathing apparatus' for example, disability services, the dive industry, emergency services, armed forces, aviation and space uses, etc. Research partnerships could lead to innovations that would not normally be anticipated in the standard working environment and the individual is offered a more varied and exciting work space and an amount of freedom and control over one's work; each known motivators for creative people (Treffinger, Selby & Isaksen 2007). The majority of these approaches also appeal to the overarching need of a creative individual for achievement (McClelland in Wood et al. 2010, p. 88).

By building on these creative partnerships and ideas, the opportunity for growth and discovery is encouraged. MacKinnon (2008) intimates that the current market sees less novel products and more modification of already existing ones; with that in mind, and the small scope afforded by ResMed's single focus of 'sleep disordered breathing' products (USQ 2012, p. 22), continual innovation will need to come from exploring their focus from more diverse and inventive angles. By appealing to the behavioural drivers of its employees, ResMed has a greater chance of achieving this through the motivation of an engaged, inspired and empowered workforce.

TASK 2 - An issue of concern within ResMed, along with other organisations in the medical field, is to constantly develop a culture of innovation. Critically discuss how ResMed could enhance its culture of innovation through building high performance teams.

In contemporary society, we see the emergence of a new economy where innovation and creativity have become a cultural currency and almost a form of insurance for an organisation's future (Florida 2003). As Richard Florida details, the rise of the Creative Class has meant an ever increasing importance has been placed on a person's cultural capital and their ability to cultivate new ideas within organisations. The idea that companies must constantly be seeking out new ideas and platforms of innovation in order to evolve with their consumers is not new; indeed it gave rise to our modern notion of marketing (Tadajewski 2006). However, the approach to innovation and the sustained development of working environments conducive to creativity is a more recent phenomenon (Davis 2000). Bruce and Bessant (2002) justify this focus on creativity in the following diagram as they depict it as underpinning the strategic business imperatives of organisations focused on innovation.

Figure 14.1 Linking creativity and design to business performance

While creativity is understood in this way to be an important feature of organisations responsible for the creation of innovative products, establishing work practices to promote creativity is not always straightforward. In looking at the ResMed case, we see a common dilemma in the promotion of innovation and creativity in the workplace. That is; enabling expression and freedom within an environment that is highly regulated and monitored. While ResMed 'recruits to fit team requirements' (USQ 2012, p. 21) to ensure a best fit, the characteristics of the individual must first be identified and understood before a team dynamic can be promoted (Welbourn 2001). In this case in which teams are to be utilised to stimulate innovation, it is essential to first profile the creative individual and the factors that influence the creative process.

Many researchers believe that creative people often exhibit certain characteristics, styles and preferences for interaction (Treffinger, Selby & Isaksen 2007). While there is a distinct move away from the classic limiting Kantian notion that creativity exists in a small minority of people and is a genetic predisposition unable to be taught or built upon (Banaji, Burn & Buckingham 2006) it is accepted that creative individuals often possess common identifiable personality and behavioural characteristics (Choi 2004). Kirton's classic cognitive style theory defines this as individuals displaying characteristics that can be identified on a personality continuum called 'Adaptor-Innovator' (Puccio 1999). Innovators are often seen as "undisciplined, thinking tangentially, are a catalyst to settled groups; irreverent of their consensual views, seen as abrasive, often threaten group cohesion, tend to take control, have low self doubt when generating ideas and provide the dynamics to bring about periodic radical change" (Puccio 1999). While this description seems in direct opposition to the factors necessary for building high performance teams (Wiesner 2012) it is of course not universally true for all innovators. It does, however highlight the need for greater craftsmanship when forming a team of creative individuals and the subtle management of such a team in order to create a climate conducive to creativity (Akkermans, Isaksen & Isaksen 2008; Prokesch 2009).

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When looking at the climate and culture of both the team and the organisation at large, the style and manner in which an individual can be creative form part of the accepted norms of the group and must be conducive to an atmosphere of innovation (Werbel & DeMarie 2005). While highly effective teams are seen to stimulate creativity through a supportive environment (Likert cited in Wiesner 2012), very recent research indicates that this is certainly the case for a team that consists of less creative individuals and can have the opposite effect on teams consisting of highly creative individuals (Goncalo & Duguid 2011). That is, that in a team with less creative individuals (whose main focus & role is not based on being creative), conformity pressure is successful in increasing the productivity and performance of a team through the use of clear goals, set structure and supervisory monitoring (Goncalo & Duguid 2011). Alternatively, this environment is seen as restrictive to highly creative individuals having adverse effects on them, often resulting in an inability to perform and a withdrawal or reluctance to participate in such a regulated setting (Kim 2008).

While one can assume that the ResMed teams involved in the innovation of new products consist primarily of highly creative people, this may not be the case. Indeed, Edward de Bono (1995) believes that a certain level of ignorance on a subject can often stimulate creative problem solving as many functional creative ideas can come from individuals who view the problem from a different paradigm. In this way, individuals from a variety of work areas within the ResMed company should be encouraged to be involved in the innovation process. In addition, with consideration of the research presented (Goncalo & Duguid 2011), an analysis of the creative attributes of the individuals within the teams and the process and norms in which they operate most productively should be evaluated with work teams for ResMed configured based on this information. This may mean evolving current workplace practices in order to facilitate this, for example; varied working hours, time for involvement in creative pursuits, intertextuality, collaboration, the use of free-time to invigorate creative flow and relaxation of the working environment, creating a less stark and rigid atmosphere.

While these initiatives may mean reworking the traditional way in which teams function at ResMed and the climate in which the process takes place, it can only be beneficial by enhancing a culture of innovation. In other words; ResMed may need to get innovative in their approach to work practices in order to continue to enhance and cultivate a culture of innovation