Employability Case studyIbex Electronic
Ibex Electronics has been an established player in the electronics industry for almost two decades. Until recently, they have provided electronic components to a wide range of organisations, including multi-national business and other specialist firms. However, this part of the business has suffered through the vagaries of the electronics industry, especially due to imports from South East Asia. To combat this loss of business, Ibex has identified a high value niche market in electronic components for medical equipment.
Frank Greenshaugh, a PhabilitD graduate from Cambridge University, has led Ibex Electronics for the last five years. Frank is undoubtedly the typical technology expert boffin- full of ‘ out of the box ideas’, which have proved to either extremely successful or complete failures. He has led the company, and the staff, from the front, whilst giving each member of staff an opportunity to put forward suggestions on how things could be improved.
Initially, meetings held within the company were well received as there was a great deal of participation and managers felt that their concerns were being considered. Decisions were made jointly and a strong collaborative approach had developed. Surprisingly, some of the staff’s ideas and suggestions are implemented immediately; others disappear rapidly, only to re-emerge in the future, bearing either Frank’s name or that of another senior manager. Initially, staff members accepted Frank’s approach and continued to provide some very sound and viable suggestions for the company to implement, however, these benefits have now disappeared as result of Frank’s tactics.
Another feature of Frank’s management and leadership style is the way he conducts meetings. Senior managers are summoned fortnightly to the boardroom in order to provide a concise analysis of their area of responsibility. Frank briefs the middle managers twice a week, for at least one hour, and throughout the meeting the managers must stand and listen to his presentation. Middle managers now look for any excuse not to attend these meetings, as not only are they standing for one hour, but also meetings are held in the staff canteen, which can sometimes be noisy and distracting. There is also plenty of seating in the canteen but they are not allowed to sit down! The middle managers are extremely uncomfortable with these briefings and , despite representations to their line managers, the format remains the same. As a consequence of Frank’s style of communicating, managers do not ask questions, or raise concerns, as to do so would prolong the briefing. Consequently, these briefings have now developed into ‘tell’ sessions—telling managers what to do, and how quickly it must be done. In general terms, all meetings held within the organisation have lost their purpose and staff at all levels continue to attend but seldom implement the instructions.
The staff’s disillusionment with the new approach has contributed to the decline in their competitiveness within the electronics industry and the loss of business to their foreign competitors.
A group of senior managers, excluding Frank, have been secretly researching the electronics components markets and have found that there is a lucrative market for electronic components used in the production of medical equipment. Also, there are only a limited number of companies supplying these high value products for this type of equipment. Senior managers face the problem of convincing Frank and their staff of the real opportunities open to the company if they were to develop into this area. They all suspect that Frank will react badly to their covert research and expect him to be furious that they have colluded behind his back. As a result they anticipate that he will probably refuse to consider their ideas as this would involve him in ‘eating a considerable amount of humble pie’. It would also be a blow to his ego and status, since he is normally at the helm of new projects. However, unless the organisation looks for new markets, it will not last.
Only four companies in the world are presently producing the medical equipment which the senior managers believe Ibex is capable of manufacturing. Ibex owns the specialized production machinery, but currently does not have the necessary expertise. New staff would need to be headhunted. At a time when cash flow and profits within the company are poor, it is unlikely that all the present staff could be retained. Redundancies are, therefore, likely. Frank is likely to be unhappy at the prospect of redundancies, as he is proud of his reputation as a major employer in the town. Tow companies in the south of England have shown an interest in joining Ibex as partners, ieReyse Electronics (CATscan equipment installation) and Pulse Meditronics(planned preventative maintenance, safety testing and repair of electro biomedical and general electrical equipment). This partnership would provide Ibex with the additional venture capital required to ensure business viability. If Ibex fail to accept the partnership with Reyse and Meditronics, they will join forces and take the work for themselves. As a result, Ibex will fail to get into the international arena.
As a result of these issues, the senior managers have decided on a strategy to win the hearts and minds of everybody in the company. The two most senior managers will meet with Frank following a weekend conference, run by a reputable firm of Management Consultants. The theme of this weekend conference is ideal—‘Aim to Achieve a Win-Win Outcome’. They will present their findings from their market research, a full financial analysis and forecasts, to try to persuade Frank to view the whole proposal as a positive step towards maintaining Ibex’s place in the market.
During the same weekend as the conference is being held, the remaining senior managers will meet with all staff, ie middle managers, team leaders and production operatives. During the meeting they will provide a complete overview of their proposals. Group discussions, question and answer sessions and an open forum to raise any issues and concerns will follow their presentation. The senior managers want all staff to ‘buy into’ these new proposals because they believe that the existing problems will remain unresolved. The problem regarding possible redundancies is going to be an extremely contentious issue. The managers have yet to decide whether they can afford to be upfront and honest, or whether they should remain quiet. The senior management team are aware that their approach may seem underhanded, and appears to undermine Frank’s position, but they believe that this is the best option available to convince Frank and the experienced staff to accept their strategy.
Outcome 1 be able to develop strategies for problem solving.
You need to include the following: specification of the problem; identification of possible outcomes; tools & methods; plan& implement; evaluation.
Using a problem solving/decision making approach, explain with reference to each step of the process, how you will present the research findings to Frank.
1. Written description of problems, changes, opportunities (from the case study)
2. Identify possible outcomes/solutions
3. Choose Pareto/Ishikawa/Force Field Analysis: Explain in theory terms and apply to the case study ( choose2 of them)
4. Choose Network diagram, Critical path analysis, Gantt Chart: explain in theory terms and apply to the case study (choose 2 of them)
5. Explain how you will present your findings to Frank
Outcome 2 motivation
The senior managers want to achieve a ‘win-win’ situation. You need to apply and appraise motivational theories and techniques which could be applied to IBEX including rewards & incentives, manager’s role and self-motivational factors.
1. Apply and appraise
Write a description of 3 motivational theorists including their strengths and weakness.
2. Apply a theorist or combination of theorists to the case study in order to increase staff motivation
3. Suggest rewards and incentives which could be offered to staff.
4. Recommend how the manager could motivate the staff.
5. Recommend how staff could motivate themselves.
Outcome 3 understand the dynamics of working with others
The senior managers would also like advice with regards to team work, you need to address the following areas: nature and dynamics of team and group work, informal & formal settings, purpose of teams and groups, problem solving and short term development projects, flexibility/adaptability.
With regards to teams and teams building you need to consider the following: selecting team members, identification of team work group roles, stages in team development, team health evaluation, action planning, monitoring and feedback; coaching skills, ethics, effective leadership skills.
1. Describe the nature and dynamics of team and group work
2. What is the difference between informal & formal teams
3. Describe the different types of team in the case study
4. Apply Tuckman and Johari to the case study
5. Describe the theory of Belbin
6. Apply Belbin to the case study



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