Organizations are held intact with many factors out of which the most important is its culture and environment. It is also known as “the glue” which links the company to its growth and plays an imperative role in shaping whether it may survive or fail on a long run (Journal of Business and Retail Management Research, 2017).
One brand which is struggling to maintain its culture is Sports Direct which owns 750 plus stores across the UK and internationally (Sports Direct, 2018).
After interacting with a few friends who have worked in this brand along with reading case studies and articles, we can interpret that the company does not impart valuable work culture to sustain and motivate its employees.
The company shows its enacted values through the overall layout but the espoused beliefs and values do not coordinate together (Mullins 2016: 539) What it shows is not what actually happens inside!!!
A culture of fear, long working hours without prior notice, wages which are less than the minimum standard, sexual harassment, dress code issues and no formal contracts or registration with trade unions (Guardian, 2016) are some of the issues that the workers faced. The cultural web by Johnson et al, precisely describes how the culture of an organization can be deeply understood. Routine behaviours of staff and management, rituals practiced, stories told by employees are some of the factors encompassing it.
A leader is one who creates changes, influences relationships and does right things (Mullins 2016: 312) that builds excitement in an organization. Mike Ashley, founder and majority shareholder in Sports Direct needs to change his approach from being a consequentialist (one who proposes that goodness or badness of an action relies upon the result of the action) to emphasizing on duties that must be done or not irrespective of the results (Mullins 2016: 523).
A major issue with Ashley is his disability to interact directly with his employees who he can articulate via the 4V model based on ethical leadership which emphasizes on Values, Vision, Voice and Virtue (Mullins 2016).
For example Marco Bizzari, CEO of Gucci has changed the way the brand operates by keeping his people at the centre and nurturing a culture of respect with a single vision followed by all of them (Business of Fashion, 2018). Allowing the workers to put forth their opinions is also an empowering quality of a leader which Sports Direct can implement in their operational environment.
Some major issues like language barriers and not speaking up to the management is prevalent in Sports Direct. Generally, it has been seen that the United Kingdom is classified as a linear active culture where people tend to be highly organized, straightforward and logical (Mullins :548). Hofstede analyses culture via comparisons in which UK has a low context culture where power distance should be low but this is not the case of Sports Direct.
Employees should be able to communicate without hesitation in a clear-cut way to put forth their opinions which may help the company in the future and managers must listen and use the information to improve the working culture. The brand managers of Sports Direct created an uncertain atmosphere where the members of staff feel threatened due to unusual situations(Mullins ) for example their wages were reduced since they had to stand in long queues for body searches which was not at all their fault or the fear of losing their jobs if they went on strike (guardian, 2016).
As per a survey by PWC, 2200 corporate managers around the world were asked regarding the relevance of organization culture, 84% consider culture as a critical factor to business success and 60% think that it is even more important than having a business model and strategy (strategy and PWC, 2013).
Looking at the above statistics, Sports Direct need to and must evolve their soft elements using the Mckinsey 7s framework. By looking at the soft elements which consist of shared values, skills, staff and style of leadership, it can work on improving and emphasizing the development of its internal capacity to create a clear and consistent image which will be in line with the vision of its employees. (Mckinsey, 2008).
Also, for Mike Ashley it is important that he uses the power of relationship, expertise and information (Centre for creative leadership, 2008) which have been said to be the top three effective means a leader can incorporate in their day to day lives to improve and develop power within their organization.
Cultures can be managed as long as the leaders in the organization put their heart and soul in forming a respectful, work oriented and healthy environment as long as communication is direct and workers are given equal rights.
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