Partexceltron: Case study

You are a change consultant and Martin Stevens has contacted you to ask for your help in identifying what he needs to do in order to secure a better integrated workforce that is working to shared aims and values.
He has asked you to prepare him a report that he can use to convince the senior management team that action is imperative and propose actions that can be undertaken to secure success. Based on the information that you have, provide Martin with a report that makes recommendations for improvement, which is underpinned throughout with reference to appropriate models and theories in support of your recommendations.
You should prepare your report, addressed to Martin Stevens, and use up to 15 references using Harvard referencing system to demonstrate the techniques that can be applied to help analyse the situation and support any recommendations that you wish to propose.

Assignment Details

Course: BA (Hons) Business Management

Module Title: Managing and Leading Change

Module Code BSB10178-6

Assignment Title: Partexcelton

Weighting: 60%

Assignment Title: Article Review

Weighting: 40%

Tutors: Helene Finidori and Flora Prieto

Word Guideline: Partexcelton (Case-study) 2500: Article Review, 500

Submission Date and Time: January 22nd 2015, 15.00pm

Learning Outcomes tested:

1. Deliver and articulate a critical knowledge, understanding and analysis of change and

the management of change situations

2. Demonstrate the ability to apply theory to practice using appropriate techniques of

3. Effectively communicate an appropriate solution to a particular case under investigation.

Maximum Word Length:

State the number of words used on the assignment front sheet. You may include

diagrams, figures etc. without word penalty. A sliding scale of penalties for excess

length will be imposed according to the amount by which the limit has been exceeded.

1-10% excess no penalty

11-20% excess 10% reduction in the mark

21-30% excess 20% reduction in the mark

31%+     excess the work will be capped at a pass i.e. 40% or grade point 4.

NB. None of the above penalties will be used to change your mark which is above the

pass mark, to one that is below the pass mark. Therefore the maximum penalty for

exceeding the word limit will be a reduction to a pass grade.Assessment Brief:

Partexceltron: Case study:

TASK (60%) Word count 2,500

You are a change consultant and Martin Stevens has contacted you to ask for

your help in identifying what he needs to do in order to secure a better

integrated workforce that is working to shared aims and values.

He has asked you to prepare him a report that he can use to convince the

senior management team that action is imperative and propose actions that

can be undertaken to secure success. Based on the information that you

have, provide Martin with a report that makes recommendations for

improvement, which is underpinned throughout with reference to

appropriate models and theories in support of your recommendations.

You should prepare your report, addressed to Martin Stevens, and use up to

15 references using Harvard referencing system to demonstrate the

techniques that can be applied to help analyse the situation and support

any recommendations that you wish to propose.PARTEXCELTRON LTD, Sustaining Success or Facing Failure

©Anni Hollings 2006, 2009 & 2012

Parlexceltron Ltd is a medium-sized, family owned concern employing 106 people. Its main

manufacturing base is in the design and production of micro-chip boards for usage in the whitegoods

consumer sector. The Company was started 10 years ago by the current Managing Director,

Jack Stevens. He originally operated out of an old school but 4 and a half years ago moved to a

new, purpose built unit on the Industrial Estate just outside the town. During the early years the

Company employed 15 people with Jack and his wife Kate, acting as the managers of the

operation. Jack held responsibility for technical decisions and customer liaison. Kate held

responsibility for Finance and Personnel issues.

After 4 years the company had achieved a considerable reputation for quality work, good

delivery times and general good customer service. Orders were reaching a crisis level and the

Stevens’ took the decision to expand their operation.

A new Industrial Estate was being planned by the local council and Jack and Kate decided to

take advantage of the various Government incentives and secured units 13 and 14. Following

detailed negotiations with various contractors the company moved into the excellent facilities of

the new location 18 months later. There was an immediate expansion to 36 employees. The

impact of the delightful working environment and the reduction in pressure due to more

operatives was immediate.

Productivity rose by 15% and Jack was able to set delivery dates at times that no other

competitor could match.

Kate had spent a considerable amount of time (and expense) on ensuring that the physical

environment was as pleasant as it could possibly be. The work stations were superbly appointed,

physical comforts had been placed as a very high priority – Kate had ensured that given the

potential for job-related stress (due to the degree of accuracy needed, manipulation of minute

parts and speed of operation) the ergonomics of each person’s work area had been properly

Over the next few years the business continued to expand rapidly and the twin sons of Kate and

Jack joined the business. Simon Stevens had been through the University system and left the

London Business School 2 years earlier with a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

His speciality area was in Marketing and Sales and his father made him Commercial Director with

a specific brief to increase international sales by 50% over next 3 years. Simon had achieved the target in 12 months. The last 12 months had seen Simon attempting to secure new markets on

the basis of diversifying the product base. He had been approached by a leading European

producer of Domestic Audio Electronics who believed that the company could satisfy their

stringent requirements for high quality and fast delivery micro-chip modules. The diversification

had proved to be both highly successful and potentially very lucrative, although it had not been

without its problems.

Simon’s brother, Martin, was not like his twin. Martin had chosen not to go to University

preferring instead to spend 2 years travelling the world and then 3 years in Voluntary Service

Overseas. Rather more reticent than his brother, his forte was with handling machines and

equipment. On joining the Company his father asked him to take over the Production and

Operations Management brief. When he first took on the responsibility Martin had experienced

great difficulty in establishing a good rapport with the staff. There had been a general feeling

of resentment towards Martin, particularly from the manager of the production area, Jon Jones,

a graduate engineer and member of the Institute of Management.

Jones had considered himself to be the natural successor of Jack Stevens and made his

disappointment very clear. Unfortunately for Martin, Jones had a natural open and friendly style

with the staff and was therefore very popular. Having voiced his disappointment to anyone who

would listen, Jones was able to generate a wave of sympathy for himself and many staff

demonstrated their disapproval of the appointment of Martin by being unco-operative.

It proved to be a difficult time for the Stevens family. Kate was deeply upset by what she

described as ‘the disloyal behaviour of people she thought she could trust’. Kate had been

determined to call a staff meeting and tell them what she thought, but Martin had stopped her.

He pointed out any intervention from his mother would destroy his credibility completely, a

point Kate accepted, albeit reluctantly. Jack had been more circumspect about the problem. His

natural style was a ‘hands off’ approach. Jack’s intuition told him that Martin would probably

prefer to ‘ride the storm’ and win the approval of the staff in his own way. Simon had expressed

irritation with the situation and demanded that something be done.

His suggestion was that Jones be talked to about his behaviour, after all he had precipitated the

response from the staff and their support for him had caused some trouble with customers. To

Simon the situation was intolerable and needed prompt and decisive management action.

Whilst Jack was confident that his decision to appoint Martin had been right, and he had every

confidence in Martin’s ability, hindsight told him that he had failed to manage the situation. He

had been unfair on Jones and he should have discussed his intentions with him. However, being

‘wise after the event’ was not helpful, there were more serious problems. Whilst no-one could

be accused of ‘sabotage’ the lack of co-operation with Martin had placed some orders in

jeopardy. Delivery dates had got perilously close on several occasions and Simon had been at the

point of contacting highly valued customers to explain that the Company would not be able to

fulfil the obligation. Each time Jon Jones had stepped in and miraculously things had been done

on time.Jack was not impressed by the ploy to undermine Martin’s credibility and confidence and knew

which members of staff were responsible for the delaying tactics. It wasn’t simply Martin who

was affected. Because work was being delayed tension was rising, this was exacerbated by

Simon’s agitated behaviour because he might have to tell customers that they could not deliver.

The tension ‘fed’ on itself and during these periods the atmosphere in the Company was fairly

unpleasant. Absenteeism tended to go up and more mistakes were made. Luckily the excellent

quality monitoring system meant that the mistakes were spotted, but then Martin had to go back

to staff and point out that standards had dropped and were not acceptable.

Things had finally ‘come to a head’ 10 months ago when Simon announced discussions with a

German based company who wanted Partexceltron to supply micro-chip modules. Jon Jones had

been completely against the idea insisting that staff were already working to capacity and that

such a diversification would have a negative impact on their main product base. Martin had

supported his brother (an action which was treated with derision from Jones) but had pointed

out that the diversification was an opportunity which needed careful consideration and should

not be dismissed without due thought. Martin offered to prepare a paper for discussion which he

would present at a management meeting 2 days later.

At the meeting Martin’s paper was tabled, in it he presented his views both for and against

diversifying, concentrating very much on the benefits to be gained for the employees. Such was

the case he made that it was agreed unanimously to take on the new production opportunity. It

was also agreed that during the transition period Jon Jones would take on full responsibility for

the existing product base and Martin would manage the introduction of the new product

including new capital equipment purchases and training of a small group of staff. The target

date for product delivery was 6 months, after which time it was agreed that the production

facility would become fully integrated with all staff being trained in the new techniques.

The diversification programme went extremely smoothly with regard to the management of the

process. Martin liaised with Jon Jones throughout the period and Jones had found himself

becoming more admiring of the abilities of Martin. At first Jones had attempted to display his

supremacy by ensuring that the production of the micro-chip boards exhibited the degree of

smoothness that had been apparent before Martinis arrival, even though he was 16 operatives

short (this was the group allocated to Martin). It had not been long however, before Martin’s flair

for technical innovation and developments became obvious and Jones had found that he could

not help but get drawn into the discussions regarding the diversification programme. Martin’s

style was always to encourage Jones involvement but Jones realized very quickly that despite his

qualifications, Martin’s knowledge and skills were far more impressive than his own and that he

could learn a great deal from Martin.

After about 5 months the new team was fully operational and customer feedback was very good.

Martin and Jones had also established a very good working relationship and Jones had made

considerable efforts to put right some of his earlier misdemeanours. Certainly with the

management, group things appeared to be going very well and Simon had secured several more

contracts for the modules.Unfortunately the reconciliation between Martin and Jones had not transferred to the

operatives. Although new staff were taken on to help meet the increased demand there was a

serious motivation problem in the production department. There was a general air of malaise

about the production area which was beginning to spread to the administration and sales areas.

Whilst performance levels were satisfactory they were not reaching potential capacity. The

problem seemed to lie with those people still producing micro-chip boards, and Kate had

commented to Martin that instead of there being one team of workers there was a definite

feeling of ‘us and them’ based on ‘board operatives’ and ‘module operatives’.

Martin had agreed and pointed out that the full integration programme planned for the staffs

after the introduction programme was complete had not taken place.

Instead, Simon had secured so much in new production requirements that they needed to work

with skilled operatives and the time and opportunity to train other people had not been

available. Both had agreed that the situation was unsatisfactory and divisive and that if

something was not done soon, major problems could occur which could damage the Company’s

reputation and market credibility. That had been two weeks ago and Martin had intended to talk

to Jon Jones about his concerns. He never had the chance. Simon brought in 2 major new orders

from the Far East which needed urgent action because Simon had made promises to the

customers in order to secure the deals. The company suddenly found itself stretched to full

What had also been very apparent to Martin for some time, was that the production area was

inadequate for both activities. Module sales were also increasing and there was a real need for a

specialist area for manufacturing the modules. In trying to ensure the production targets for the

boards were met, the storage areas for parts for modules were often cluttered with board parts

and people were getting in each others way. Three months earlier Martin had been talking to the

owner of unit 12 and found out that he was intending to move. It was Martin’s intention that he

move the manufacturing facility for modules to a separate unit and had spoken to his father

about it who had agreed in principle. Martin had already drawn up a plan for relocating the

module section and had estimated that he would need 40 people to work in the new facility.

Kate Stevens had also given thought to the workplace design and environment and she was

pleased to be able to incorporate many new features that were environmentally friendly and

carbon-footprint-positive. Although full agreement hadn’t been given to the development, it

seemed unlikely that there would be a problem with getting acceptance.

The move to new premises was an exciting venture. It would send clear messages to everyone

that Partexceltron was a successful enterprise. Despite the volatility of the market, the

company was expanding, investing in new plant and would need to take on more staff. It was a

great story to tell and Martin was looking forward to breaking the news to the module

operatives. Jones would tell the board operatives at the same time. It was agreed that the

announcement would be made as soon as the full agreement had been made after the next

Senior Management Team Meeting which was scheduled for 10 days time. Unfortunately, the

meeting had been put back on three occasions because of the pressures of production and Jones

and Martin being unable to attend, as well as Simon spending so much time abroad. However, it

was considered that it did not pose a problem because it was simply a matter of formalizing the

decision.Martin and Jones had also discussed the career opportunities for some people. It was obvious to

both men that the current management structure was inadequate and there needed to be some

roles created between the section leaders and themselves. In the general discussions that had

taken place they had thought about keeping the two sections separate and having different job

and role identities for the two units. There was also a need for a professional HR person. Too

many routine activities were getting left undone. There was a niggling suspicion that there were

some bigger issues that needed addressing too, but as neither were HR people, they were not

sure of what the agenda should be. What was evident though was that lots of things that people

were doing they were doing not because the job had been designed properly, but simply because

that was how it had evolved. In fact, the more Martin and Jones discussed the future, the more

they realized that if they didn’t take serious action about structure and job design, the company

would probably grind to a standstill. It was more by luck than judgment that the company had

managed to continue to meet targets and that it was the great support of the staff who made it

At the weekly production schedule meeting attended by Martin, Jones and the 4 section leaders,

Martin’s announcement of the new orders was met with disbelief by 1 of the section leaders with

responsibility for micro-chip board production. Her immediate response was to say that the new

work could not be done, not unless people now doing the modules were returned to board

production. Martin had explained that that would not be possible because the other order was

for modules and they needed everyone who was able to produce modules working to full

capacity. The section leader then suggested that if she was to go back to her staff with the

proposed schedule there would probably be a mutiny. The board operatives, she explained, were

sick and tired of being classed as second-raters. They worked just as hard, if not harder, than

their colleagues producing modules but they did not get any thanks for their efforts and got less

in terms of break periods and worse working conditions.

She also stunned Martin by telling him that the board operatives considered it to be very wrong

of the management to continue to pay 2 separate rates of pay. All the operatives had understood

that after the initial group of 16 had been trained, everyone would be trained and would

therefore achieve parity of pay rates. As it had worked out only the elite few had the

opportunity to do the better work and earn higher wages. She then suggested that such was the

level of disenchantment that several operatives had been looking for other jobs. Things were

about to come to a head in the production department, the new work was supposed to have

given everyone better opportunities, instead the management had managed to split the

workforce in two and just the favoured few were having a good time. It was becoming more and

more clear to the workforce that the management did not care. Parlexceltron had been a great

place to work but not anymore.

Another section leader had nodded her head in agreement at the outburst. Both Martin and

Jones were speechless. Neither man had been aware of the growing tide of resentment. Both

had assumed that everyone was satisfied with the working arrangements and pay rates (which

were some of the highest locally), although Martin had been aware of the tension between the 2

emerging factions. Of the 84 operatives, 28 had been trained to produce the micro-chip

modules, obviously Martin was going to have to act immediately but with the pressure of Simon’s aggressive sales push forcing production to capacity loading it was not going to be easy. Martin

had been thinking about taking on 12 new operatives but now wondered whether this would be

inadvisable given the poor employment relations that existed. His intuition told him that it

would be better to resolve the major problems facing the Company before throwing new staff at

the sales demands, but how were they to meet the production obligations to which Simon had

already committed them, if staff were unwilling to co-operate and were dissatisfied with their

work experience?

If that wasn’t enough, another of the section leaders stepped forward and left Martin and Jones

wondering how things could have got so bad. There they were with such a great story to tell

about the new unit and here were their staff telling them how bad things were for the workers.

But it was what the section leader told them that left Martin in no doubt at all that they had a

need for major change. The section leader said that in his time at the company he had never

had any reason to believe that the management had ever hidden anything from them or ever

told them untruths, but his mate had been told that the company was downsizing and moving

into unit 12 within 6 months. If that was the case, then it was clear that there would be

redundancies and that given the success of the modules, they were likely to be the untrained

board operatives who lost their jobs. Many of them had been with the company from the

beginning and were devastated that no-one had said anything to them, that they had found this

out from a friend of a friend. The workers could not believe that they had been so ignored, that

having trusted the management for all this time, they now felt worthless.

Martin could not believe what he was hearing. What he did know was that rather than fuel any

other rumours and misinformation he needed time to construct a proper response. He told them

that there was no truth in the company closing any part of the operation but that he needed to

talk to everyone as soon as possible. As they left the meeting Martin considered his position. The

issue of trust was serious and he had never felt before that he was a man who could not be

trusted. For many years the managers at all levels had worked hard at establishing a culture of

support and high commitment and to hear that it had been so fragile and so easily destroyed was

painful for Martin. Now not only was there the move to consider and how best to achieve that,

there was the need to restructure and the need to address the potentially damaging toxic

culture that had developed.
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