An essay on organizations, leadership theories and employee performance

employee management


How to achieve competitive advantage by improving employees’ working condition

1.5     Fielder’s Contingency Model

A further analysis of Sports Direct uncovered leadership incompetence as the root cause of low performance, and consequentially, the brand’s negative public image in recent years. A competent managerial staff could have applied the contingency model to address these problems which have affected brand equity and revenues for decades.

Although a timely response to organizational problems helps, it is worth noting that there are no pre-planned solution to the myriad of issues confronting Sports Direct. Depending on the circumstance, a practical approach is implemented and regularly adjusted to achieve desired goals.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model was adopted to identify the leadership style at Sports Direct, using a Least-Preferred Co-Worker (LPC) Scale to arrive at results which have been attached as Appendices A. The author also aided an analysis of the company’s current business potentials.

As indicated in the table below, leadership at Sports Direct got a low-rating because of its task-oriented approach. Poor relationship with employees and a do-it-all attitude from managers are some of the administrative setbacks. In addition, a further probe by the Consultant, using some of the factors propounded by Fielder to weigh the company’s “situational favourableness,” uncovered a poorly structured relationship between management and staff, with the former wielding all administrative powers. The leadership is thus criticised for focusing on timely completion of tasks while investing little or no effort towards improving the lives of workers.

Figure 2: Fielder’s Contingency Model of Sport Direct

Though Fielder described this leadership structure as one of the most effective models, it lacks the crucial leader-follower approach in human resource management. The Consultant therefore suggests a management strategy which encourages cordial relationship between leaders and members in addition to involving employees in the decision-making process (Rowe., 2007).

1.6     The Leader-Member Exchange Model (LXM)

To analyse the leader-member relationship and various categories of staff at Sports Direct, the Consultant applied a Leader-Member Exchange Model and found out — through oral interviews — that employees are classified as “In-group” or “Out-group”. While the first group obtained favour and trust from managers, their colleagues in the second group suffered unfavourable management practices as shown in the chart below:

Figure 3: Leader-Member Exchange Model (LXM) of Sport Direct

Source: Irobiko Chimezie Kingsley (2018)

The Out-group comprises about 76% of the total number of workers at Sports Direct. This “frustrated” segment share complaints relating to less accessibility to managers, high level of distrust, inadequate information on given tasks, no job security or opportunities for growth, and favouritism. The Out-group also claims exclusion from the company’s decision-making process (Northouse., 2007).

 1.7    Proposed Plan for Organizational Change

The Consultant hereby presents a proposal including an all-encompassing plan for organizational growth, having sieved results on the company’s current business environment using the SWOT Analysis, Fielder’s Contingency Model, and the Leader-Member Exchange (LXM).

 Thematic AreaStrategy/ActivityResponsibility
Performance Assessment with the Employment AgencyDiscussions on the quality and performance of hired employees should be assessed for adjustments at quarterly meetings between the Management and Employment Agencies.Top Executives of Sports Direct and Leadership of Employment Agencies
Review of Employee Contract with the Employment AgencySports Direct should partner with its Employment Agencies in reassessing employee contracts which permit staff to choose between “zero hours” and a permanent contract that guarantees a minimum of 12-hour per week agreement.Top Executives of Sports Direct and Leadership of Employment Agencies
Assessment of the Current Salary StructureA homogeneous salary scale is necessary for staff remuneration, with timely payments observed. Late payments should not exceed more than 2 days from the due date. Staff whose operate in high-risk departments should receive adequate compensations. Outstanding employees should also receive monthly and yearly awards.Management and Leaders of Workers’ Union
Review of Investments in Staff Training and Adopted MethodsStaff members should receive proper trainings through an induction programme, where they familiarize with the company and their specific tasks. These trainings should take place every year or as required.Management
Assessment of Employees’ Working ConditionsSafety of workers should be a priority. Extra washrooms should be available and adequate measures taken to ensure employees in high-risk areas are well protected.Management
Review of Staff Welfare PackagesOnsite medical staff with adequate resources for emergencies should be available to handle health matters. Management should involve both “In-group” and “Out-group” workers in scheduling tasks. A due process in granting off days and leave periods, with considerations offered in emergency situations.Management and Leaders of Workers’ Union
Review of Staff Feedback ChannelsA safe communication channel should be available for employees to report abuse cases. An arbitration panel should also exist to entertain complaints, conduct proper and unbiased investigations, and deliver judgements. Monthly staff meetings should hold to discuss arising matters between or among supervisors and employees.Management
Assess Performance of Workers’ UnionsLeaders of workers’ unions should ensure that meetings with management hold at least twice a year to deliberate on matters affecting the overall interest of employees.Management and Leaders of Workers’ Union.
Assessment of Corporate GovernanceManagement should properly supervise activities on daily basis to gain adequate insight on overall performance. Organizational policies should be concise and clearly explained to workers for easy interpretation and implementation. The Board of Directors should also undergo regular scrutiny to for performance evaluation aimed at identifying management weakness, strengths, threats, and weakness. Priority should be on improving and harmonising working relationship between all stakeholders in the organization and maximising same for benefits.  Board of Directors

1.8     Conceptual Framework

The proposed business-transformation strategies presented under a conceptual framework stem from issues uncovered in the SWOT Analysis, Fielder’s Contingency Model, and the Leader-Member Exchange (LMX). The Consultant identified staff, supervisors, management, and agencies as the main actors in this study. In addition, the research proved that shortcomings from Sports Direct management and its poorly-managed relationship with key stakeholders have been a major setback to the attainment of set objectives.

The Conceptual Framework therefore underlines incompetent management and poor leader-staff relationship as causal factors for reduced profit margins and stunted growth (Bass., 1990).

Also, the growing isolation between supervisors and staff as well as between recruitment agencies and staff of Sports Direct are some of the negative factors contributing to low employee performance and financial losses.

Figure 4: Conceptual Framework for Addressing the Current Situation at Sport Direct

Source: Irobiko Chimezie Kingsley (2018)

The conceptual framework highlights that improving business operations at Sports Direct entails harmonising relationships between and among all actors in the system while implementing proposed strategies. As shown in Figure 4, management should provide, review, and regularly adjust staff training programmes to fit current situations. In addition, the company should provide favourable work conditions, exercise adequate control employee behaviour, and ensure that contract agreements offered by accredited employment agencies meet organizational needs. Recruitment agencies should provide both financial and technical support.

It is the Consultant’s belief that a proper application of this conceptual framework will improve relationships within the organization, empower employees to show commitment, enhance overall productivity, and foster a constructive culture in the company. These benefits will eventually provide Sports Direct with high quality and strategic business operations.

1.9     Plan to be Implemented by Sports Direct

Quarterly meetings should be hold between Management and Employment Agencies to deliberate on employee matters.Performance from Recruitment Agencies fall short of agreement with Sports Direct.July 2018LondonManagement and Leaders of Recruitment Agencies
Recruitment Agencies providing Sports Direct with contract staff should reassess existing employment contracts which permit staff to choose between “zero hours” and a permanent contract that guarantees a minimum of 12-hour per week agreement.    Employees work without options to contribute in task scheduling processes. Workers do not complaints their dissatisfaction due to fear of losing jobs and this affects productivity.July 2018LondonManagement and Leaders of Employment Agencies
Salaries paid on time or at most 2 days after due date. Workers operating in high-risk areas should receive adequate allowances. A standardized salary scale is necessary. Outstanding staff deserve monthly or yearly awards.Group and individual efforts from staff members go unnoticed and salaries are below industry average.July – December 2018All BranchesManagement
Induction programmes should exist for quality orientation after each recruitment process to ensure that each employee understands the company and their specific tasks. This familiarization process should hold yearly or as deemed necessary. Supervisors also require trainings at least once in each year.Most Sports Direct employees have never received trainings since joining the company, and many of them are ignorant of their specific job requirements.August 2018 -May 2019All BranchesManagement
Staff protection should be a priority. More washrooms should be available in all branches.Inconducive work environments.July 2018All BranchesManagement
A medic should be onsite to handle medical emergencies. Employees should play a part in decision-making and scheduling of tasks. Rules on off days and leave periods should be fair. A clear-cut procedure required in approving off days for employees who may have emergency situations.Employees not permitted to take days off work, and staff members who suffer medical emergencies travel far for treatment.July – November 2018All BranchesManagement
A feedback channel should be in place for workers to report their grievances. There should be a committee to address reports of abuse, complaints, or in-fights within the organization. A general meeting held each month for supervisors and workers to unanimously discuss and agree on matters relating to workers’ welfare and leader-member relationships.The company lacks proper feedback channels.July – December 2018All BranchesManagement
Workers should form a union responsible for protecting the interest of members. Meetings between management and the union should hold once or at least twice each year to discuss a way forward.Non-existence of a functional workers’ unionAugust – November 2018LondonManagement and Union Leaders
Board Members need a well-structured horizontal and vertical systems that permits free flow of information within the organization. The management should ensure that members understand policies for proper implementation. Regular evaluation exercises should hold to identify the strengths, weakness, threats, and opportunities available to Board Members and how these can be maximised for productivity and sustainability. A practical measure taken to improve working relationship among all stakeholders. Need to adopt ethical measures in company operations. An incompetent and ineffective Board of DirectorsSeptember 2018 – March 2019LondonManagement

1.10   Benefits of Implementing the Proposals

Sports Direct will benefit immensely from implementing the proposals presented in this study whereas negligence will, on the other hand, pose great risks to the company’s existence.

1.10.1 Benefits of Implementing the Strategies

The expected benefits from practicalizing suggestions from Consulted include the following:

  • Increased commitment from employees leading to higher productivity
  • Cordial relationship between staff and management
  • Reduced employee turnover and less chances of resignations
  • More support from leadership leading to improved job performance
  • Better welfare packages and protection from potential risks
  • Proactive employee participation in management processes
  • Increased use of feedback channels for suggestions that promote organizational objectives and values
  • Job security and chances for advancement
  • Improved brand image.

1.10.2 Risk of NOT Implementing the Proposal

The Consultant believes the following to be possible risks for rejecting the proposals:

  • Mistrust or loss of confidence in Sports Direct management
  • Poor relationship between management and staff
  • Dissatisfaction and low commitment from employees
  • Poor customer service and reduced earnings
  • Loss of market share to competitors
  • Increased rate of resignations and high costs of recruiting new staff
  • Damaged brand image

1.10.3 Risk of Implementation

Implementing the proposed strategies offers benefits but not without costs. The Consultant identified some risks associated with the proposed agenda and they are as follows:

  • Executing the proposed plan may be time-consuming
  • There are huge capital requirements to fully implement the plan
  • Some recruitment agencies may opt to cut ties with the company
  • Change of the leadership structure may affect smooth functioning of departments thus stalling progress of the proposed plan.

1.11   Conclusion

Though this analysis found Sports Direct to be task-oriented, the Consultant assures that a strict implementation of the proposal will provide competitive advantage and improve the waning relationship between management and staff (in both In-group and Out-group).

The prospects of Sports Direct maintaining a frontline position in the global sportswear industry largely depends on the reliability of analytical tools adopted in this study: SWOT Analysis, Fielder’s Contingency Model, and the Leader-Member Exchange Model.