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Gulf states Metals Inc. - Firstly, analyse the issues that are contributing to the low performance, secondly, to provide some options for moving forward and thirdly, to present a set of substantiated recommendations.

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Introduction

Gulf States Metals Inc. (GSM) is a large nickel refinery plant that has suffered poor financial performance and is under the threat of being shut down by its parent company International Metals Inc. This paper aims to, firstly, analyse the issues that are contributing to the low performance, secondly, to provide some options for moving forward and thirdly, to present a set of substantiated recommendations. The analysis will be tackled through a multi-frame approach, incorporating a structural frame, human resource frame, political frame and symbolic frame as proposed by Bolman and Deal (1997). Structural Frame Analysis The structural frame asserts that organisations exist to achieve goals and objectives, and that they must be designed to fit the circumstances according to goals, technology and the environment. Organisations are thought to increase efficiency and enhance performance through specialisation and division of labour. To ensure that the divisions work together, appropriate forms of coordination and control are essential to ensure that individuals and units work together in service of organisational goals. The structural frame also assumes that problems, and performance gaps, arise from structural defects and can be remedied through restructuring (Bolman and Deal, 1997; Burnes, 1996). GSM's overall structure is hierarchical and based around functional groups. Directors are assigned to the main sections of the business according to function, these being operations, engineering and administration. Within these directorial areas there is a structure based around process and time. There are supervisors that oversee one of each the processes of material handling, copper extraction, cobalt extraction, ammonia sulphate extraction, and nickel extraction. There are also supervisors who manage production for swing, graveyard and weekend shifts. In the case of GSM, there is an absence of integration to bridge the division between the operations and maintenance. The two areas are at odds and compete for access to machines. Production requires the machines to continue running and producing nickel, while Maintenance requires windows of time to perform maintenance of those machines. ...read more.

Middle

(in this case the threat of the plant shutting down) or bargaining and negotiation could be utilised to win people over (Pfeffer, 1992). The Symbolic Frame The symbolic frame asserts that organisational culture is firmly embedded in the symbolic frame of organisations. This frame recognises that people seek a purpose or meaning to ignite passion (Bolman and Deal, 1997; Burnes, 1996; Pihulyk, 2002). The prevailing culture at GSM is rough and reactive. There is a lack of vision and shared values. There is a history of disappointments and a tough environment with little regard to human needs. Instead of a positive cohesive culture, there is a blaming, negative one. GSM requires a system of values and a vision to promote social and organisational cohesion (Bowles, 1989). The symbolic frame seeks to interpret and illuminate basic issues. GSM needs an appropriate metaphor to inspire employees and compress complicated issues into understandable issues. Such a symbol would need to fit into the environment so that employees can relate to it, as well as emphasise integration and unification towards one shared vision. Summary of Analysis and investigation of options Frame Analysis of Situation Options Available Structural * Weak integration- goals, roles responsibilities not well-defined- lack of lateral coordination to integrate is causing conflict between maintenance and operations divisions- at odds for time with machines- sub-optimisation- not working towards the same goals * Division between maintenance and operations may not be appropriate functional structure * Weak and ineffective vertical authority coordination * Matrix structure within divisions- potential confusion and conflict. * Important performance indicators not integrated into process effectively (e.g. quality & safety) * Focus on increasing integration through lateral coordination * Re-engineering/restructure- integrate maintenance as part of process flow structure * Responsibility charting -clarify roles and responsibilities * Introduction of self-managed teams- dual role- production and business improvement projects * Structural integration of Industrial Relations Manager to leverage more appropriate approaches to people management- see human resource frame Human Resource Frame * Basic needs not met (Maslow) ...read more.

Conclusion

The basis of this recommendation is that research suggests that the existence of vision and shared values has a positive effect on organisational performance (Collins and Porras, (1994) in Warrick, 2002; Clarke, 1994). My recommended analogy conceptualises GSM as a Formula 1 Team on race day. The team is aiming to win the Formula 1 Drivers Championship and Constructor's Championship (become a competitive advantage for IMI and show a profit). To do so the team requires drivers (machine operators) and mechanics (maintenance staff) to work together to innovate and come up with new solutions to problems and to optimise operation of the cars (machine). On race day coordination in the pits is provided through a "lolly pop" man (coordinator) who integrates the team processes and ensures that all the mechanics work together to refuel and replace parts and prevents collision with traffic in the pit lane. The analogy can be further extrapolated, but in its simplest form would provide GSM with an inspiring vision- to be innovative and work towards the same goals using the differing skills of people and achieve something greater than any one person could individually. It also appeals to the macho culture of the organisation In conclusion, there are several key organisational problems present in the GSM case study. An analysis performed through the use of Bolman and Deal's mutli-frame analysis assists in determining key options and on the basis of the change management literature a set of recommendations can be made. I believe that the organisation needs to be re-engineered into an integrated core operations division of operations and maintenance staff with non-core business in a separate division. The core business should be organised into self-managing teams that divide their time between production and improvement projects. There are also key steps to be taken to satisfy human resource needs via implementation of a human resource philosophy and strategy. The political frame provides options to assist in levering the necessary power to implement change and the symbolic frame requires development of an inspiring and unifying metaphor to a cohesive set of shared values. ...read more.

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