“To make money and have fun” – Cons
While W. L. Gore may have been ranked as one of the best places to work at for several consequent years, its famous flat organizational structure does have flaws. Gore relies heavily of sharing the organization’s vision and business objectives with each and every one of its employees. It is expected that, given the high degree of flexibility, employee will respond with equal levels of discretion and will focus their efforts towards the attainment of the common organizational goal. This presents a unique set of challenges in markets where competition is stiff and swift, well planned, effectively communicated and implemented strategies are the need of the hour. Gore’s main competitive advantage is technological innovation. The company creates novel products, patents them, and then uses this advantage to spur profits until the benefit of the patents runs its course. However, with a steady rise in the number of competing companies, the organization will be hard pressed to maintain competitive pricing. This can be a serious challenge as Gore has higher overhead costs associated with its operations when compared to any other competing company. Employees have the freedom to choose how many hours they work and the level of effort they put into tasks are not clearly defined. This culture creates unnecessary financial hurdles that could hinder the growth of the company. Managing risks in a firm that is innovative not only in terms of products but culture as well can be a challenge too.
Gore offers an extremely unwound and open work environment to all its employees, including new recruits. While the absence of an hierarchy and reporting order within the organization may encourage certain ‘associates’ to excel in their performance, other, especially new comers, may not be able to adapt to the structure quickly enough. Having no one to direct them about their job responsibilities, which they are most likely accustomed to, could lead to a lack of direction which, if not addressed soon enough, in turn leads to frustration. The organization’s management methods are considered to be unconventional by most. Being educated and trained to work in a formal work environment, and having experience in regular organizational structures, employees may actually need a certain degree of control and authority over them in order to feel comfortable. Having no manager or supervisor can prove to be an unsettling experience.
Employees prefer to be given specific tasks, through the attainment of which their performance can be measured. However, at Gore, creativity takes precedence over instruction and an employee is required to find a suitable position by themselves. Not knowing what is expected of them, employees may feel insecure about their growth in the organization. While the case of Jack Dougherty is a matter of legend, every employee does not face the same level of success. Considering the fact that Gore is a multinational company, with operations spanning countries and continents, cultural adaptability becomes an imperative. This is especially true in the case of offices in developing countries such as India, where the corporate culture is still in its developing phase. Gore’s work environment is standard across its offices. While it provides flexibility to its employees, the culture itself is not open to change. This rigidity makes it difficult for the organization to adapt to the expectations and needs of a culturally different work force. In such a scenario, employees of offshore offices are likely to shift to other companies that offer a definite career path, leading to high attrition rates for Gore.