Posted: August 20th, 2021
Week 6 DiscussionCOLLAPSE
What Else Is Going On Out There?
Using the Wall Street Journal, or another reputable news source, locate and post an article published in the last 12 months about an organization undertaking a change initiative.
What Else is Going on out There?
Uber has changed its UK-based operational model to reclassify drivers as workers. The decision was made after a Supreme Court ruling was made in favor of 35 drivers who had challenged the ride-hailing firm concerning their independent employment status. Since the last week of March 2021, the drivers would start receiving holiday benefits, a workplace pension, and a minimum wages guarantee (Strauss et al., 2021). The change is significant not only for Uber but for the entire industry, given that it put other brands that utilize self-employed models under pressure to follow suit. In addition, the change was only enacted in the UK, yet Uber is a global firm. Such a move is likely to cause drivers from other regions to demand similar treatment, affecting the entire operational model.
The change in structure and strategy implies that the firm must employ new terms and conditions for the drivers to facilitate business practices. Previously, the drivers worked at their convenience time, depending on their earning goals. However, if Uber is to offer employee privileges, a new structure in terms of working hours and shifts must be formulated to implement the strategy. The initiative was taken with a people-first agenda, given that it concerns the rights of the employees. The brand will be offering holiday benefits and minimum earning allowances.
The firm has already made steps to initiate the change. The holiday benefits will be based on 12.07 percent of the driver’s earnings, and Uber would be making pension contributions amounting to 3 percent of the earnings. According to Welch (n.d), one of the barriers to transformational organizational efforts is loss of focus and allowing business-as-usual to extend the time frame to get the initiative done. Uber countered the challenge by implementing the change immediately after the decision was communicated to the affected stakeholders. The change is in the actualization stage, given that it has been executed.
Strauss, D., Bradshaw, T., & Dempsey, H. (2021). Uber’s UK concessions change game for gig economy. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/68718de3-b25f-47d6-8f51-4df1f66d8b1e
Welch, J. (n.d). Leading change by putting people first. Jack Welch Management Institute.
As we learned this week, the larger the change initiatives, the more can go wrong (Kotter, 1). This week, the article I found was about Sara Greenstein of Lydell Incorporated:
The article is from a series the WSJ highlights entitled “Personal Board of Directors.” The series focuses on CEOs and the other leaders they turn to for guidance and advice. As we have been discussing having guiding coalitions for change initiatives, the series brings light to the importance of having a personal coalition.
In 2020, the pandemic rapidly grew worldwide, spreading disease and death with it. Sara Greenstein was only months into her first CEO role when the world needed high levels of filtering products that only a few companies were producing. The company produced products for a wide variety of industries, including medical and automotive. Like many companies, Lydell began furloughing employees in less demanding areas and finding a way to survive. For Greenstein, the demand for the oil-derived textile nonwoven polypropylene increased, as it was a core component of N95 masks. After rolling old machines back onto the floor, the team did what they could to keep up with orders. By April, Greenstein knew change had to happen in the company to fulfill her professional and ethical obligations. Besides the furloughs, there were no major leadership changes to speak of, but the operational processes had to.
Without knowing how long the pandemic would last or how bad things would get, she knew that it was her duty to shift the company’s focus 100% to PPE and filtering materials. Although an internal need for change wasn’t the driver, but the company put “people first” in the truest sense (the public and its health). After securing a 40 million dollar investment, Greenstein had to convince the board that the change must happen. Lydell expanded its New Hampshire and French production locations. This means workers had to be hired and retrained if they worked in other facets of the business.
There is no mention that I can find so far regarding her specific change steps; however, the sense of urgency and vision were made clear from the beginning. With thousands of people dying globally, workers likely knew the gravity of the power they held. From there, it was making sure the right people were in the right places to grow accordingly. The HR team would need to work closely with her to make sure onboarding processes would be informative and get new workers up and running immediately.
The change efforts have proved successful so far. As of last June, the company was positioned to produce enough material for 125 million N95 masks per month. Today, Greenstein works with President Biden on producing enough PPE to have stockpiles for future medical crises (Clifford). Greenstein depended on her advisors to guide her decisions, making sure she was considering more than just profitability. During times of duress, it’s important to have your own group of guides to keep you on track to see challenges clearly, with people at the center.
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