Neill is a designer of t-shirts and has built his business up after years of selling his products at Sunday markets and through the internet. Stores were opened in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide and he employs a total of 30 people across the outlets.
Despite appearances of hard work and success, Neill remains a very laid-back individual who has attributed his success to ‘luck’ more than anything else. That some stores operate at a loss does not worry him too much as he remains optimistic about improvements in financial position. He credits his various managers – most of his staff have some managerial title – with keeping things going and allowing him the time to indulge in his passions for surfing and golf. Day-to-day management does not really interest him.
Neill’s mother Martha is an experienced manager and has looked into Neill’s business. She is not impressed. All managerial staff are paid the same rate, irrespective of individual and store performance. Stores in fashionable areas like Northcote struggle, while the one in Narre Warren does spectacular business. Staff at some stores spend most of their day on Facebook and Twitter while customers walk out after being ignored. Neill does not call managers together for meetings all that often, so staff at stores do not know what their counterparts are doing elsewhere. Recent designs appear to follow trends rather than lead them, leaving Neill’s stock looking a little tired. Major clothing chains located near Neill’s stores appear to have new stock every week.
Martha is aware that Neill has had offers to start businesses in New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. Her son is excited by the opportunities but is privately ‘freaking out’ about being a ‘proper manager’. Neill has intimated that he does not want to be a ‘control freak’, but knows that he may have to shut down stores to realise his dream of going international. Too intimidated to talk to anyone about it, he heads off to the beach to catch a wave. Maybe it’s just too much for him.
How the organisation could be restructured and jobs redesigned to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
It appears that there is no decision-making at the top and monitoring is poor. For a period, a centralised structure may be necessary – Neill may need someone else to do this. This will reign in the lousy outlets.
Communication channels need to be developed and go both ways. What are they doing in some stores that works well and why are they failing in other outlets? Should staff be given opportunities to communicate with the leadership? Perhaps the strugglers have their hands tied and need to let the leadership know about it.
A staff member needs to be designated as the one with most authority in each location. It may go some way to answering the question of ‘who’s minding the store?’ Do staff need to be rotated from outlet to another? Can we start identifying star performers in the stores so we can keep the best staff if and when some outlets are closed?