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Meeting the increasing needs of customers is a continual challenge in today’s business environment. As companies try to increase their market share by providing more services, the methods in which they try to provide them can often undergo significant changes in the organizational structure, from adding new departments within the company, to acquiring other companies to provide those additional products and services. In this assignment, we’ll discuss how a simulated merger of two shoe companies, Skechers USA, Inc., and Johnston & Murphy, Inc.
, integrate their respective human resource polices to accommodate their two separate organizational cultures. We’ll provide a brief history of the two companies, along with some supplemental information, and make proposals on how to integrate the most vital issues facing the cultural differences of the two organizations, such as work schedules, mentoring, diversity training, and incentives. For the sake of brevity, our policy merger will only include issues that address the diversity-related concerns of this newly-integrated work force.
The relatively new company Skechers USA, Inc., whose product line targets teens and twenty-something adults, is known for a progressive, younger workforce. Johnston & Murphy, on the other hand, has been in existence for more than 100 years, and targets a clientele of older-generation men. Its workforce is primarily comprised of such, consisting largely of conservative males 40 years of age and older.
Skechers USA, Inc. proclaims itself as an award-winning global leader in the lifestyle footwear industry. Founded in Manhattan Beach, CA in 1992, it designs, develops and markets lifestyle footwear that it says appeals to trend-savvy men, women and children.
Skechers claims its success stems from its “high-quality, diversified product line that meets consumers’ various lifestyle needs and an innovative global marketing strategy driven by cutting-edge print and television advertising,” (Skechers USA, Inc. 2003). They are publicly traded under the New York Stock Exchange symbol SKX.
Johnston & Murphy, on the other hand, is a much less trendy shoe company, which traditionally targets an older, more conservative market. Founded in 1850 by an immigrant English shoemaker, Johnston & Murphy claims to “couple old world shoemaking techniques with new world style and comfort.” Johnston & Murphy has made shoes for every U.S. president since Millard Fillmore, earning a reputation for fine materials, meticulous craftsmanship and enduring comfort (Johnston & Murphy, Inc. 1999). Today, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Johnston & Murphy claims to be one of the few companies in the world that makes a line of shoes entirely by hand. In addition to its catalogs and over 140 namesake stores and outlets, Johnston & Murphy footwear and clothing are available in more than 3,000 department and specialty stores throughout the world (Johnston & Murphy, Inc. 1999).
In order to meet its goal to “profitably grow worldwide operations,” Skechers has developed several policies that facilitate global collaboration for its workforce (http://www.Skechers.com, 2003). These work policies include guidelines around Flex Time, Virtual Teams, and Tele-Commuting that support collaboration as well as the flexibility that Skechers’ younger work force demands. In order to align with Skechers’ growth goals and leverage its expertise around advertising and marketing, Johnston & Murphy will need to adapt to a new culture. To facilitate a rapid transition, workforce policies will be revised, training plans will be developed, and job rotation programs will be utilized.
Skechers’ personnel work with 30 major distributors around the world, as well as offices and manufacturing facilities across the United States. Due to time and cost constraints, the company relies on collaboration from employees and partners through the use of virtual teams. These teams utilize Teleconferencing and electronic meeting software to allow teams to be represented from offices around the world. Crossing so many time zones, it would be unreasonable to expect the workforce to adhere to standard work schedules. Flex Time allows the employees to adjust their work schedules based on both their personal needs, as well as accommodation of meetings set up with virtual teams. It is essential that Johnston & Murphy be able to participate in a like manner once the merger is completed. It will require training, improved infrastructure and updated policies to accelerate the transition to a new business culture. To further speed up the cultural change and knowledge transfer, it is expected to strategically place key Skechers’ employees at Johnston & Murphy sites.
Mentoring To facilitate the successful integration of Johnston and Murphy employees and Skechers’ employees the company will institute a formal mentoring program. Initially, those senior Skechers employees who are placed at Johnston and Murphy sites will be paired with a senior Johnston and Murphy employee. This relationship will provide “coaching, counseling and sponsorship” (Robbins, 2001, p.360) for the Johnston and Murphy employees and will provide a venue for them to integrate successfully into the Skechers family.
The second phase of the mentoring program will involve the remainder of the employees of both companies. This phase will use the traditional mentoring framework of placing a junior employee with a senior employee. This phase will likely involve the use of communicating via the internet rather than face to face contact. This step will provide the junior employees with someone to help them develop their skills, provide support, bolster self confidence, lobby for visible assignments and politick to get rewards such as promotions and salary increases (Robbins, 2001, p. 360).
Diversity Training In addition to mentoring, Skechers and Johnston and Murphy will begin diversity training. This training is intended to provide a vehicle for increasing awareness of the distinct personalities of both companies, and to examine and try to eliminate stereotypes attached to what would be considered a younger and older culture. Employees of both companies will examine the cultures of each company and learn to value their individual differences, increase cross-cultural understanding, and confront stereotypes (Robbins, 2001, p. 360).
This training program will focus on teaching skills for good relationships in the workplace, and will seek to identify and educate all employees about specific acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. It will focus on individual behavior, and each employee will be asked to commit to a plan of action that appreciates and utilizes the different perspectives and styles of the two cultures (Owens, 2000, p. 17- 21).
Incentives and Compensation Dealing with a multigenerational workforce has its share of issues, and devising a plan to reward, compensate and provide incentives will likely prove to be a daunting task. As HR takes into account the needs of the new work force, it must pay attention to what motivates workers, and not what it thinks motivates them. With this in mind, it will offer the following: Monetary bonuses Time off, extended vacations, and compensation time | Complementary tickets to a range of activities aimed at younger and older interests, such as sporting events tickets, theater passes, and other leisure activities In-house functions and activities, such as parties, barbeques, holiday parties, and other events that focus on providing entertainment for all workers.
In addition, HR will solicit suggestions from the entire work force, and implement the suggestions that prove to be advantageous, as well as cost-effective.
Skechers USA, Inc. made a wise business decision when it decided to acquire Johnston & Murphy Inc. Doing so virtually guaranteed that Skechers would have a bigger market share of footwear by targeting an older, more conservative clientele, while still being able to pursue its current marketing and publicity campaign with its younger, trendier market. Several HR policies will be added or changed to help drive desired behaviors and accelerate the merger of two very different company cultures. A more flexible workforce will be created that takes advantage of virtual teams and responds to the company’s growth goals in a global marketplace. Mentoring and diversity training programs will be instituted to help employees share knowledge and understand the advantages of bringing together different cultures and backgrounds. Rewards and recognition programs will be established to drive and reinforce the desired behaviors needed for the merger to excel. Successfully integrating the two unique cultures, and paying attention and addressing the diverse needs of the combined group will ensure its success in the future.
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