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Ancol Ltd. Study Essay

Ancol Ltd. hired Paul Simard as the manager of their Jonquiere, Quebec plant. Simard observed that relations were strained between management and employees and, through information from a seminar he had attended, ordered the removal of time clocks. This action brought an onset of negative consequences that ultimately led to a further diminishing of relations between the employees and management, accounting issues due to lack of accountability, and problems between the union and Ancol Ltd; All of these issues decreased productivity in the factory.

The problem stems from issues of competency and communication. Essentially, there should have been an open solution from the beginning. Simard did not have the insight to understand the situation he was placed in. The new manager should have tried to understand why relations between employees and management were strained in the first place. He then could move to understand the needs of the management and workers to develop a solution that would benefit the whole factory. Rather than instantly implementing the removal of time clocks that he had learnt from the seminar, Simard should have carefully analyzed the situation and what consequences this policy could have on the factory. Simard could have researched and inquired about such methods and perhaps learnt the consequences from the instance at the B.C. factory.

Problem Statement:
The central issue at the Jonquiere Ancol Ltd. plant was that Paul Simard, and his management team, lacked the insight and communication to discern a more holistic and open solution to the problem of strained relations between the management and employees. This led to an uneducated and rash decision to order the removal of time clocks from the factory that led to negative consequences. Employees began leaving early, showing for work late, and taking extended lunch breaks that created distrust and frustration among management and other employees. The management was ordered to observe the employees and reprimand those who abused their privileges and was not competent enough to handle the task, which led to a great burden for the supervisors, and this made it extremely difficult to foster trust between the management and employees. Consequently, the payroll department could not deduct pay for the amount of times employees were late due to a lack of accountability and therefore a letter of reprimand was placed in each employee’s file, which created even more work for the supervisors. Finally, due to the letters of reprimand, grievances were filed with the employees’ unions that fostered greater distrust and essentially productivity, energy, and integrity significantly declined in the factory.

The main issue revolved around the lack of communication and competency of the management at the beginning. Simard, and his staff, lacked the insight to effectively find a solution that would provide a holistic approach in solving the already apparent strained relations between the supervisors and employees. At the onset of his work term, Simard should have sought to understand why there was a rift between the employees and management. If Ancol Ltd. were still in good terms with the previous manager, Simard could have communicated with him to obtain a better understanding. In understanding the underlying issue, Simard would be able to effectively tackle the problem without uncertainty and then, Simard should have effectively communicated with his management team and his employees to find a solution that would benefit both parties and foster productivity, integrity, and trust back into the factory. The constraint to finding a holistic approach is that it takes time and the right solution may not come into fruition. Furthermore, while a solution is being made, it can be assumed that the relations are worsening. Furthermore, Simard should have seen that some of the issue arose from the fact that the supervisors lacked the interpersonal skills to communicate with the employees, which became apparent when the time clocks were removed. This was an obvious issue that Simard should have seen; having a management team that did not think the decision to remove the time clocks was rash or unwise should have been a signal.

Therefore, perhaps Simard could have trained the existing management, or replaced them with more competent staff to create a more insightful staff and a healthier work environment for the employees. The constraint to this alternative is that training or hiring new management is time consuming and costly, and trust would have to be fostered between the new hires. This policy would have positive consequences and would create more trust between the employees and workers. It is obvious that the removal of the time clocks led to more harm than good. Simard should have carefully analyzed the situation prior to making the decision that led to such folly. If he had done this, many of the issues would not have occurred and the factory could have taken a step forward. Furthermore, he should have carefully analyzed the method that he learned from the seminar and how it would affect the employees and the factory’s productivity. Not all ideas that come from seminars pertain to every situation and any system change should be analyzed to predict the outcome in every functional area, such as the payroll department. If he had communicated with his senior management team and employees about the time clocks and its possible consequences, perhaps he would have found a better approach.

Furthermore, if Simard had discussed the time clocks with other managers prior to implementing his policy, he would have learnt the consequences through the instance at the B.C. factory. Clearly, the issue and solution heavily depends on communication around the factory. It is difficult to see any negative consequences of this alternative, as the removal of time clocks was a disastrous solution. A constraint to this alternative is that it can be assumed that Simard does not have a management team that can communicate well, and hiring and training is costly and time consuming. With regards to the issues that occurred after the removal of the time clocks, there were many alternatives that Simard could have implemented that would have decreased the damage done. Simard could have been more strict on how many times an employee could be late, leave early, or take an extended lunch break. Furthermore, Simard could have rewarded those who stay longer and later to incentivize those who consider abusing their privileges. These solutions have obvious pitfalls as the former only creates an adversarial environment and the latter relies on bribery rather than integrity and trust.

To conclude, since the issues stem from a lack of insight and communication, the solutions should also pertain to areas of insight and communication.
Essentially, Ancol Ltd. could have hired a more competent manager for their Jonquiere plant. A competent manager would have created a more holistic and beneficial solution. Simard had not identified the root of the strained relations between the senior management and the employees. If he had communicated with the employees and management and previous manager in order to understand the issue at hand a much better solution could have been implemented. Also, a competent manager would have found that their management is lacking in crucial interpersonal skills that may have contributed to the issue. Simard should have conversed with the employees to learn about the existing management and terminate the supervisors who are not fit to lead. Although less costly, training the existing staff may not be the best option due to the fact that that the strained relations may be in part due to personality traits. Simard should have attempted to understand the implications of removing the time clocks in the factory.

There were many alternatives that Simard could have attempted such as talking with his senior management team and employees, or communication with other managers at plants in order to understand the consequences of removing the time clocks. He would have found that it would have profound consequences in many functional areas of the factory and would derive a different solution. In regards to the order for the removal of time clocks, aside from reintroducing the time clocks earlier, it would be difficult for Simard to find solutions to the problem but rather Paul would be attempting “Band-Aid” solutions to the problems. Simard could have hired new supervisors or implemented a incentive based system but ultimately, this would have been avoided through more careful analysis and planning and therefore these should be rejected.

At the beginning of Simard’s term, he should have immediately sought to identify the underlying issue regarding the strained relations between the employees and the senior management. First and foremost, if possible, Simard should have communicated with the previous manager. Next, Simard should have conducted depth discussions with his senior management and employees, together and separate. This will create an open and truthful dialogue between both parties and essentially, Simard would build a crucial relationship with all staff. This process will take approximately a month or two. Throughout this time, Simard should have conducted research into the consequences of the removal of all time clocks and would refrain from doing so. In the process of discovering these issues, Simard would have noticed that his supervisor’s lack crucial skills that are necessary for their positions and terminate/hire new management staff accordingly. Simard would then ensure that the new management has the appropriate skills to effectively communicate with the employees and him to create a more accountable working environment. This process would take another month. With his revamped management staff, Simard would then address the underlying problems found through involvement with both the supervisors and employees. In this process, a new relationship would be built between both parties and workplace productivity and happiness would increase. This process would be ongoing until the solution was found and implemented.

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