HRL7006 – Managing People and Finance

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This case study is focussed on the UK Division of the organisation – the analysis, plan and assignment report should focus on this Division.


Globalog is a global logistics services company headquartered in Malta providing services in 120 countries.  The UK Hub of the company has the largest staff group and has traditionally had a good reputation as a ‘great organisation’ with ‘hard-working people’. This positive view was shared by customers, suppliers and competitors as well as staff and managers.

However there has been recently been a significant dip in performance compared to the other divisions across the organisation in most of the other 120 office bases in other parts of the world. For example, it had the worst profitability ratio amongst the various Hubs and had been unsuccessful at rebounding when global trade picked up after the Covid pandemic. It has also failed to develop any real innovation in service delivery and so has a number of outdated practices. The UK hub continues to be seen as a hierarchical organisation with a strong focus on structure, central core and control, which has prevented it from nimbly responding to changes.

Prior to the Pandemic some changes had been made to the UK Division for example the restructuring of the Central Core to be placed in London with responsibility for some functions like HRM, Finance and Customer Services team. The move behind the centralisation was to result in efficiency savings. The UK Division had five UK branches located around the country in London, Manchester, Southampton, Liverpool and Felixstowe. Expansion has been planned to develop sites in Aberdeen and Cardiff but the existing difficulties within the UK Division has delayed the full implementation of these.

When the Pandemic spread around the world in early 2020, international trade and logistics were radically impacted. The UK Hub was caught unaware and began to slip still further and its lack of agility and preparedness has had a negative impact on performance and created an overall sense of insecurity throughout the organisation.

The change to centralising core services to London pre pandemic were poorly planned and communicated and as a result there has been escalation in complaints from customers and employees about the inconsistent quality of the services that are being provided by centralised teams. There have been complaints about the time taken to responds to customers, answer calls, the apparent inability of people answering the calls to deal with some enquiries promptly or effectively and the inflexible opening hours of the central service.

From the employee perspective the pandemic highlighted the existing inflexible working practices and meant that staff were ill prepared for such demands as a major crisis.  Many staff have consequently left the organisation. The other branches based in Manchester, Southampton, Liverpool and Felixstowe felt that a key part of their work had been removed and that this had affected morale. Previous positive customer relations were placed under strain but not yet irreparable. There has been a growing and significant level of uncertainty and ambiguity, with rumours building up regarding cost cutting and redundancies. Staff were anxious, impacted upon by the Pandemic and this was causing stress and anxiety like never before. There has been the appointment of a number of supervisory and middle management who do not have the experience to support staff and mutually trusting relationships are not developing.

Complaints have been made by staff across all locations about the lack of direction, poor and mixed communications and the limited attention given to health and safety issues. The employment of inexperienced line managers, with an inflexible approach to work and monitoring of issues such as breaks etc, has all undermined a positive working environment.

While the Pandemic had initially caused trade in goods to shrink at its fastest rate, by mid-2020, it was beginning to revive. Opportunities were being created as global trade was beginning to pick up and find ways to deliver and support the world’s recovery.  The UK hub needs to actively pursue a more proactive approach to developing better and greater service delivery and put its weight behind innovative measures to prevent blocked supply chains and port congestions. Agility is required in the face of new regulations and expectations which have been rapidly introduced to manage an increasing complex environment. Not only is there the ongoing impact following the Pandemic but the development of new working practices to protect against similar organisational disruptions. There are particular demands for critical services such as medical and food supply chain to be protected and prioritised.

A new Chief Executive Mr Letterman has been recently appointed during this turbulent time and his initial assessment led him to conclude that he needed to engage an experienced change manager to help him turn things around. Letterman accepted that the extent of change needed required his leadership but also acknowledged that an experienced change manager with change and leadership skills could support this and him. 

Letterman realised that simply doing the same things a bit better would not be sufficient to navigate the drastic ups and downs of global trade during the Pandemic and fresh ideas and radical transformation was required. The one thing he was clear about was that such a transformational journey aimed at creating a sustainable, innovative and resilient workforce also needed to centre on empowering its employees and enabling them to work to their potential. This therefore was a significant and whole system change. His overall impression however was that positive and sustained change could be achieved.

Letterman had worked with Sally Firoze previously when she worked as an Organisation Development manager and had spearheaded successful change projects albeit on a smaller scale elsewhere around the world. He decided that she was the appropriate person to lead the change under his overall strategic leadership and direction.

Letterman and Firoze agreed the change objectives were to create a positive, motivated workforce with a culture that was innovative, resilient and sustainable. For this it was essential to recruit transformational insiders and engage other staff to this way of doing things. Together they wanted a paradigm shift away from traditional hierarchical structures to create more intelligent forms of collaboration and team working. They wanted to draw upon fresh ideas about solving problems and challenges, being responsive and agile with a focus on shared purpose and shared future, service orientation, balance and sustainability. This would not only help the UK hub to weather the storm, but also show leadership in the world of logistics and continue to transform the organisation in the coming decades to become more agile, empowered, responsible, just, sustainable and conscious of the community and other stakeholders.

Letterman and Firoze firmly believed in customer-centricity and were convinced customer satisfaction mostly depended on employee engagement and satisfaction. If employees are treated well and are involved in decisions, they will be motivated, involved and energised, which will ultimately lead to better customer service and drive performance. They agreed to suspend any reduction in employee numbers and build a skilled employee and managerial structure leading to an agile company culture which would enable staff to quickly tackle novel challenges as they unfolded. The disruption and uncertainty caused by the Covid Pandemic over the past 24 months had led workers to feel stressed and exhausted. Daily life has been uprooted and the lines between work and leisure blurred. Relations between staff and managers is particularly poor especially as experienced managers have left and new managers are over supervising tasks and making staff feel unskilled. This was an immediate issue to address as this risked success of any long term change programme.

In the journey towards recovery, people were going to be key; it was imperative to emphasise autonomy and empowerment, transparency and investments in workforce skills and a strong, innovative and open culture as key pillars of corporate resilience. This was in keeping with research that an organisation’s ability to improvise and develop new operational heuristics under pressure depends upon learning, knowledge and training, which can be elevated by greater workforce diversity and a clear corporate purpose. Such an aligned purpose and people-centric culture was essential to future proof the company and make it innovative and sustainable.

The duo were mindful of the developments within global business operations and wanted to return to being a market and sector leader. This meant they would have to understand global challenges, competitor developments and innovations in the logistics arena.  Adapting service offerings to current demand and safety protocols was imperative. While the business-to-business logistics market came almost to a standstill other than in food, pharmaceutical and a few other essential industries, the business-to-consumer market exploded as people in lockdown turned to the internet to make their purchases. And not only did volumes grow; the profile of goods being shipped changed, with more consumers ordering even the largest purchases online. This needed quick response and adaptation of service offerings through fast-tracking growth and development strategies, quickly expanding to seven days a week and making significant investments in e-commerce, people and assets to cope with demand.

Letterman and Firoze had a number of objectives for their change programme:

  • To create an organisational structure fit for modern times with clear roles and responsibilities for all employees. This would be a flatter management structure in order to reduce the time and overheads associated with implementing new ideas and making communication and decision making more effective
  • To build an organisational culture which was empowering, thriving on trust and engaged employees. The culture should be more flexible and agile, thereby being more responsive and proactive in embracing challenges.
  • To create a network of communication systems to enable positive and two way communication between employees, managers and leaders.
  • To rebuild customer relations and create a framework for growth with other businesses as a central part of business success.
  • To create a plan to expand and ensure the integration of the two new UK bases in Aberdeen and Cardiff.
  • To re-establish the UK hub as a leader in the organisation and within the sector.
  • To identify implications for training of staff to support the change plan.

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