Organizational Behavior at Kudler Fine Foods


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Organizational Behavior at Kudler Fine Foods

Introduction
Performance of an organization is dependent on the alignment of the constituent resources and the ability of the resources to adapt to the change. "Organizational culture is a system of shared values, assumptions, beliefs, and norms that unite the members of an organization. Organizational culture reflects employees' views about "the way things are done around here” (Gomezâˆ'Mejia & Balkin, 2002, p. 108).
Culture can be visible, something that people can see or feel or based on espoused values, or based on core beliefs. Some of the examples are an organization that adapts employee dress code, management decision to layoff employees to reduce cost, and organization culture based on innovation and creativity. Culture helps managements to meet the objectives and goals of the organization. Culture promotes a sense of stability among employees, and helps employees to accept and adapt to organizational changes.
This paper provides an overview of organizational behavior through reviewing the Kudler Fine Foods employee files and other documents to assess its readiness for change. This paper also analyses Kudler's organizational behavior with other companies in similar industry.

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Organizational Culture
Organizational Culture is a sum of shared values, beliefs, and median that unites the team members of an organization. It reflects employees' views about "the way things are done around here.” The culture particular to each organization affects how employees behave and the type of employees hired and retained by the organization.
Organizational Culture can be distinct at three levels. First being, Visible Culture as it is self explanatory, it is something that an observer can see, hear and feel. The visible culture makes it evident for an observer to infer the dominant cultural features such as formal or informal, competitive, liberal or conservative. The next level of organizational culture are called espoused values or in simpler terms values that are being embraced. These values are not directly observed but instead are the way managers and employees rationalize their doings and decisions. These values are normally consciously and unambiguously communicated. The third level of culture is the core beliefs that are strongly shared and are considered to be non negotiable.
Kudler Fine Food's sole owner was Kathy Kudler who started her first store in 1998 and has opened three stores since then. Kudler Fine Foods has been successful to develop a genuine organizational culture. Kathy has an open line of communication with her employees and she communicates with them regularly. This communication builds ownership, team spirit and respect for the company. Due to low payroll at the clerk and cashier level, Kathy allows them to take home groceries to their friends and families. This builds loyalty. Kathy occasionally runs the store or the cash register to interact with the clients to understand their needs and to make sure that they were satisfied. She also asks her employees to be friendly to the customers and help them with anything they need help with. These are some of the visible, espoused and core values of Kudler Fine Foods that Kathy Kudler is successful to accomplish.
Organizational Structure
The organizational structure of Kudler Fine Foods (KKF) has been divided into six elements that are work specialization, departmentalization, chain of command, span of control, centralization & decentralization, and formalization.
The first element of KKF organizational structure is departmentalization in which jobs are grouped together into manageable units. The company has different departments such as department by product, department by function. The department by products includes bakery, meat & seafood, cheese & dairy and wine. The department by function includes production, marketing and finance department. The managers are grouped with similar expertise and skills. KKF organizational structure is set up in a hierarchal manner where upper management delegates to lower management who then delegate to staff and clerical employees. KFF coordinates information throughout the company with an organization-wide reward system and meetings to coordinate all store activities.
The second element of KKF organizational structure is chain of command in which employees rank from executives to store baggers; however, despite this structure the company promotes open communication and interaction between all employees within the company. Employees are encouraged to speak their ideas and give feedback to their managers regarding ways to improve Kudler Fine Foods.
The third element of KKF organizational structure is specialization in which departments are separated into sections and those employees who specialize in that particular area are placed in that appropriate department. This approach allows employees to become specialized and efficient.
Influence of Leadership at Kudler
For an organization to be successful, Leadership is essential. A Leader is a person who can influence others to successfully accomplish and achieve the end goals. Leaders can empower personnel, motivate, assign or delegate tasks to others, and take responsibility to get the work done. "A leader should have visionâ€"ideas or objectives that clarify to others where they should be headed” (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002).
The leadership team at Kudler is lead by Kathy. Kathy is a transformational leader who had the vision of providing a one-stop shopping for groceries. Kathy acts as a motivator to Kudler's employees and she motivates them by creating a comfortable environment. Such an environment makes the employees feel that they are part of the organization. Employees have the opportunity and responsibility in working directly with the existing and new customers. Kathy handles the management of key functions like pricing, advertising, purchasing, and merchandise selection.
Kathy follows a combination of autocratic and democratic style of leadership. . Autocratic leadership is one wherein the leader makes decisions without input from others and announces the decision after it is made (Gomezâˆ'Mejiaâˆ'Balkin, 2002, p. 290). Kathy is responsible for setting the policies, procedures and vision of Kudler and she sets the same with little or no input from her direct reports. "A democratic leader actively tries to solicit the input of subordinates, often requiring consensus or a majority vote before making a final decision” (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002 p. 290). Kathy follows a democratic style of leadership for handling store managers as she allows them to make decisions on purchases, hiring, performance evaluations of staff, and to assist in determining new product offerings.
In the case of performance evaluations, there is no defined standard or consistency across multiple departments or different stores. Kathy has followed a democratic style of leadership and as a result a legitimate use of coercive or reward powers to solicit obedience is in vogue. Such an example of inconsistency is in the accounting department between two employees Meredith Nguyen and Matthew Vu. Though Meredith has worked hard, Matthew has got a bigger raise. Such issues can result in motivation issues as per the equity theory. "Equity theory proposes that people's perceptions of fairness depend on their personal assessment of outcomes
and inputs. Outcomes are rewards such as recognition, promotions, and pay. Inputs are contributions such as effort, education, and special skills.” (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002 p. 312).
Driving factor for change in the Business
There are several external factors outside the Kudler organization that may drive changes in the business. One of which is increase in competition. Living in a society where there is an increase of health conscious people, local competitions in gourmet and health food stores are also increasing. Another factor is the online gourmet food business, such as Gourmet Food Mall.com. In the 2004 November issue of the O-The Oprah Magazine, a section of an article about online ordering states "Fancy foods - including smoked salmon pate and brown-sugar-cinnamon shortbread - are available at gourmetfoodmall.com at great prices.” (Gourmet Food Mall). Like Kudler, companies are using technology to improve quality, increase convenience factors for customers, and productivity by automating processes online. There are local and online competitions catering business, such as Cardiff Seaside Market.
There are also several factors within Kudler that may drive changes in the business. One of which is that the company is a private business and the retirement plan of Kathy Kudler, the founder and president. If Kathy is already planning to sale the company in the future, this may bring down moral in the organization if the workers feel that there founder is not planning to stay loyal to company and to the employees. Unhappy employees mean high turn over in the company. Another factor is the company's non competitive benefits. There payroll is low to competitions such as Trader Joe's and their current vacation benefit is only one week. The employees would only get two week of vacation after 5 years of service. Though Kudler compensation philosophy strives to satisfy employees, in 2003 out of the $2.520 million expenses accrued by company, only $1,330 went into bonuses and award. However, $13,046 went into vehicle expenses.

Conclusion
Kudler Fine Foods is a strong position and is poised to undergo the transformations needed to advance in its standing in the fine foods industry. The review of KFF's culture and organizational structure has revealed the opportunity for transformations required to increase growth and also increase the employee's opportunities to succeed. The lack of consistency in the reward systems as well as the autocratic style of leadership should be changed to help in the increase of employee motivation. The organizational structure has to be changed along with the approach to strategic planning. KFF also needs to introduce new products with respect to the trends in the industry and changes in consumer tastes to remain competitive.

References
University of Phoenix. (2007). Retrieved May 7, 2008, from University of Phoenix,
Week One Resource, Virtual Organization Portal: Kudler Fine Foods.
Gomezâˆ'Mejiaâˆ'Balkin.(2002). Management and its Evolution, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Gourmet Food Mall


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