Christmas Corp (CC) is an international corporation, with the largest market share of Christmas. Located in the North Pole, the CEO, Mr Santa Claus, manages this business which employs over 400 elves and is most noted for its “Gift for every Child” program. Due to the Global Financial Crisis and other technological factors, productivity has been lower than projected. However, the overall prospects for the company are good, with the North Pole recently introducing Equal Opportunities in the work place for women and elves under four feet tall.
Christmas is celebrated by over a half of the world’s population (adherents.com n.d.) which gives CC opportunities to expand their current industry and allow for further growth into the future. With 2.1 billion Christians and another 1.1 billion people with secular beliefs, the target audience is enormous. December 25 is a national holiday in most countries around the world (with the main exceptions of Israel and China) and is celebrated in a variety of ways. Consumerism has ensured that Christmas Corp will continue to be able to provide its core product with reasonable projected sales. However, Mrs Claus has made it clear she wants to embrace the new equal work opportunities and with Mr Claus’ sanction has decided to set up the “Christmas for Adults” program.
The new program means that Christmas Corp will need to implement a range of changes to ensure the smooth expansion and crossover that will occur with the creation, delivery and implementation of Christmas gift giving. While the current situation allows for one person (with eight reindeer) to deliver gifts to every house on the planet on a single evening, the new agenda will bring in changes to the production line, delivery and list-making. The new scheme allows for both Mr and Mrs Claus to undertake deliveries, thus creating a more efficient system. This will necessitate a reallocation of staff and changes to the status-quo of how the company is run on a day to day basis.
Mr Claus was offered Canadian citizenship in 2008 (TorontoSun.com 2008) however, Mrs Claus will need to apply for citizenship to expedite her return to the North Pole after deliveries. Any other staffing changes to the delivery run will also need to ensure they meet with international protocols and are legally permitted to enter a variety of countries. Computer generated gifts could be sent electronically such as computer games, gift cards and cloud subscriptions.
The new program will also be introducing products that have both tangible and intangible qualities, meaning a change to how the current mechanised production line is run. Where, previously, gifts given were all created in the factory by elves, new adult gift lines will include items such as employment promotions, gender-specific pregnancies and some minor healing of health issues. Existing production capabilities will need to be stepped up to allow for the additional products being created, and to ensure they do not mix across programs.
Recent technological advances have also been adopted by CC, with emails now considered an acceptable form of communication between Santa and his fans. This will require additional staff to maintain and improve the Internet connection as well as specialised Public Relations staff for Social Media and to reply and act as the public face of Santa. The changes in technology also mean that the list-making necessary for determining who is ‘naughty’ and who is ‘nice’ will be more efficient and can easily be collated on computer. With the addition of the new program, it will be necessary to add to this list to allow for adults, however it is important to note that the criteria for ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ for adults will differ from the requirements for children.
With the multitude of new modifications being implemented by Christmas Corp, it will be essential that it manages these changes to improve staff morale, streamlines existing systems and improves productivity.
Preparing for Change
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is credited with the saying “Change is the only constant” and while Christmas Corp has resisted change for several hundred years, it has now decided to embrace the opportunities that exist for expansion. However, the adjustments to how the company is structured, managed and promotes itself are only one segment that needs to be addressed. Equally important is how these changes will be communicated to the employees of Christmas Corp to improve morale, inject enthusiasm and acceptance for these changes and increase productivity.
Before making any amendments to a corporate policy or direction, it is important to identify any issues that may arise so a plan can be formulated that will lessen any damage to the staff, productivity or brand of a company (Boin, Kofman-Bos & Overdijk 2004, pp. 111-5). There are several issues which may need to be addressed by Christmas Corp as the new system is put into practice and these have been identified as resistance to change; cultural acceptance; non-verbal cues and mixed messages; job security; and staff morale and motivation. By recognising these potential hazards, clear steps can be taken to minimise their damage.
Christmas Corp has followed the same structure for hundreds of years so implementing a new way of management is likely to invoke initial apprehension and discontent. Communication that is open, transparent and continual will assist in alleviating any concerns that employees may have (Prastacos et al. 2002, pp. 55-8). Resistance to change by employees is closely linked with their fears regarding their self worth, their value to the company and job security (Chawla & Kelloway 2004, pp. 486-92). The existing trust between the CEO, the new Vice President and their elves should assist in easing tensions caused by the changes but care should be taken to monitor the behaviour of the workers. The new hierarchy in Appendix A details the changes recommended for the chain of command of Christmas Corp.
The new structure will open up innovative employment opportunities for the elves to improve their station in the workplace and this should boost morale (Waddell & Sohal 1998, p. 544). The creation of new departments means the elves can be retrained to specialise in fields that interest them, and allow for additional workers to be employed, boosting the economy of the North Pole.
To enable openness, Senior Management will not be permitted to take any annual leave during this time of adjustment so they are seen to be easily available and involved. Listening to feedback, giving continual updates and answering questions forthrightly are simple ways that management can be seen to be active participants in the change they are embracing (Conger et al. 1999, pp. 87-99).
Stages of Change
Christmas Corp is likely to experience three main changes stages as identified by Lewin’s Change Model (Mindtools n.d.-a). These are Unfreeze, Change and Refreeze. Likened to ice, the theory expounds that you unfreeze your systems, remould them in the way you want them to be and then refreeze them into the new shape.
The awareness of this model, when used in conjunction with the Change Curve, can successfully boost the effectiveness of Christmas Corp’s transformation and will reduce the period of uncertainty and unrest generated. The Change Curve demonstrates the amount of resistance and unhappiness that occurs as time progresses (Mindtools n.d.-b).
One way to initiate the Unfreeze stage is by creating a mini-crisis or a sense of urgency (Mindtools n.d.-b; Pearson & Mitroff 1993, pp. 49-53). Creating a compelling message that shows why the current situation cannot continue is often the only impetus needed to begin the change process. This may result in people feeling off-balance and evoke strong reactions but this can be used as a motivation for embracing the new agenda. By generating a new vision for the company, excitement and interest can be encouraged (Mindtools n.d.-a).
During Stage 2 of the Change Curve, there is a range of emotional responses to the disruption caused by the actioning of the anticipated changes. Regular, open and honest communication by senior management during this time will further trust and transparency; both of these factors will reduce rumours and empower the Christmas Corp workforce to become involved and accepting (Kotter 1996, p. 59).
As Stage 3 approaches, it is anticipated that morale will increase as understanding and acceptance are fostered. Christmas Corp will not be at 100% productivity at this stage, however, it will be making gains over the previous period. During the final phase of rebuilding, trust, commitment and dedication ensue. To facilitate this, Christmas Corp need to anchor the new changes to the culture of the company and introduce a reward system to highlight efficiency and productivity (Mindtools n.d.-b).
Maintaining the Changes
Timing is crucial to effectively manage the change and support it within the company (Axley 2000, pp. 20-1). Employees need time to adjust and understand the changes being imposed on them and their interaction and feedback is critical to the success of their execution. Kotter (1996) warns that claiming victory too early often leads to a failed change project. During this period, finetuning and streamlining of current systems is suggested to make sure that the change is solidified for the long term.
Connections and Culture
When the company forms a connection between itself and the employees during this time of change, it will be rewarded with intense loyalty and this, in turn, improves productivity (Marshak 1993, pp. 49-52). Strong leadership will cement the core cultural change within the company itself, and the vision should be embedded into everything Christmas Corp communicates. Demonstrating the behaviour expected of employees and openly addressing concerns will aid in showing the integrity behind the change vision (Hussey 1998, p. 435).
Promotion and Branding
After Christmas Corp embraces the change, it will be necessary to enhance the branding and inform the public of the new direction the company is taking. While informing the employees is crucial before and during the change, once the change has been executed and solidified, it is also essential to inform the public of the fresh image the company is now pursuing (Reast 2005, pp. 7-9). This serves two purposes: firstly, it informs and invigorates the brand in the eye of the public and secondly, it reiterates the change vision directly to the employees and their families, further endorsing it as a change they are actively involved in.
Training and Rewards
The re-skilling of employees during the change phase allows for specialisation. However, it is imperative that training continues to maintain the new corporate vision. Training establishes work ethics and expectations as well as emphasises the importance of the change process (Kotter 1996, p. 59).
Christmas Corp has a long and robust history that can be developed further with the expansion planned. These changes will open Christmas Corp to new opportunities and a larger market. When changes are managed following appropriate strategies and care is given for the stakeholders impacted, the brand can strengthen its external and internal practices as well as provide an exciting workplace that will continue to grow for future generations.
Appendix A: Corporate Restructure
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