What are Sonoco’s strengths in terms of its culture and people? Any weaknesses?
Sonoco’s major strengths are demonstrated in its people and culture aspects. Sonoco’s working ambiance is tributary to work. The working environment of Sonoco is described as collaborative, friendly, and team oriented. As one of the employees delineates, Sonoco does not “look for that single superhero” (Thomas, Groysberg and Reavis 3), which further emphasizing the collaborative nature of the working environment. In fact, the historical productivity of Sonoco can be attributed to the good working atmosphere. In addition, the employees of Sonoco have helped it successfully grow and uphold competition in its core business, as well as those of its subsidiaries. This efficiency of Sonoco’s career management strategy is demonstrated by the company’s ability to retain its employees for a long period, insofar that others have spent their entire career life in Sonoco. As a result, Sonoco is better positioned in terms of competition. Besides, the culture of Sonoco puts a degree of emphasis on work ethics, and this is used as a guide for the employees to execute their mundane tasks within the company. One employee attests to the ethical corporate culture by stating “Sonoco is a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things” (p. 3). Compounding these cultural and people strengths of Sonoco, the success Sonoco has relished in the past was inevitable.
However, the people and culture aspects of Sonoco also have its fair share of weaknesses. First, the performance management strategy of Sonoco failed terribly; that is, if it ever existed. Consequentially, evaluations did not accurately reflect the performance of employees insofar that the grounds on which employees were laid off were unjustifiable. In fact, scores of talented and experienced employees were given up at the expense of the sustainability of the company. Moreover, Sonoco lacked a rewarding management policy as well. Given that the company’s system was highly mechanical and structured, the performance of employees was obscured and therefore hampering the tasks of appointing new managers. Another weakness of the culture is the excessive dependency on the talent of the general managers tasked with talent management. The company’s structure puts much emphasis on the objectives and strategies set by the general managers instead of regarding talent as a general corporate resource. The drawback with such corporate structure is that the defined objectives are a mere reflection of the personal interests of the general managers and not those of the employees or the profit of the company.
What are your suggestions for changing/improving the HR structure in the company? And how would you sustain the changes proposed?
In light of the two options that Cindy Hartley, the senior vice president of HR at Sonoco, the hybrid organizational model would be a sound recommendation on improving the HR structure of Sonoco. The divisions would be able to have a direct involvement with personnel programs, succession planning, staffing, compensation, and benefits with hybrid organization. Whereas the Corporate would handle the HR planning, strategy development, and implementation tasks, the staff would take care of the divisional level issues, perform consulting services, and assist in rolling out initiatives. As a matter of fact, the new divisional HR managers would provide a connection between corporate HR functions and the Sonoco’s business (Cummings and Worley 321). In any case, the hybrid organizational model will also foster the flexibility in the structure of the company in the sense that environmental changes would be responded to with immediacy. The hybrid structure’s projected cost saving would amount to $2.7 million, which is close to the CEO’s directive on cost cutting of $2.8 million to boot.
Additionally, the hybrid organizational structure is ideal for Sonoco given the size of the company. Large and complex companies that utilize advanced technology and operate in dynamic environments have a great deal to gain from a hybrid organizational structure. In the case of Sonoco, the hybrid structure perfectly aligns the company’s flexibility strategy to meet the ever-changing demands of the consumers and the industry, in general. Also, the hybrid structure places the right people with the right competence in the right positions within the company with intent to exhaustively tap on their talents. The degree of accountability among the managers in under the hybrid structure will be enhanced since the outcomes of different tasks are evaluated with respect to the individual managers assigned to the tasks. In addition, the presence of the different consumer and industry representatives under the hybrid organizational structure will mean that the decision-making process will be not only efficient but also dynamic. Without a doubt, the hybrid organization structure is the way to go to ensure the success of Sonoco.
Even so, strategies to sustain hybrid organization structure have to be formulated. First, the right systems have to be put in place so as to get the right people in place beside reducing waste, increasing employee satisfaction, decreasing turnover, reducing waste and improving productivity. Consequentially, appropriate systems will bring about an improvement in profits on an ongoing basis and hence ensuring the sustainability of the hybrid organizational system. Besides, the consolidation of administrative tasks, where viable, would also ensure that the hybrid organizational structure has achieved the cost saving target of Sonoco due to the economies of scale that accrue from the consolidation and hence the sustainability of the hybrid structure is ensured. The availing of resources will also play a major role in sustaining the hybrid structure and with the consolidation of various functions in the system; the duplication of resources is avoided. The managers should also be supported because they are critical to ensuring the sustainability of the new organizational structure.
Cummings, Thomas & Worley, Christopher. Organization development & Change (9th Ed.).
Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning, 2008. Print
Thomas, David, Groysberg, Boris & Reavis, Cate. “Sonoco Products Company (A): Building
a World-Class HR Organization”. Harvard Business School Review, 2005. Print.