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Enron was a very powerful company that was doing very well in the market. The value of its share was high and the company was enjoying an overall healthy position as a business. “Enron participated by creating Enron Online (EOL) in October 1999, an electronic trading website that focused on commodities.” (INVEST) The employees were happy and new recruits would have killed to get a job at Enron. However, this was not to last. Enron enjoyed so much success that it got to its head and it started making all sorts of problems. Enron decided to change its organizational structure by employing new people at high posts who were given the opportunity to make big decisions that could directly affect the organization. Thus, their organizational design was altered. The reward system within the organization was also changed since the top performers were given the opportunity to receive many bonuses and stocks options. This new system was to be controlled by an internal controlling authority but this did not work well because the people who were reviewing and those who were being reviewed were working on the same levels and this caused them to form alliances among themselves. “In fifteen years the company had become the seventh largest company in America as its largest trader of natural gas with $1 billion in profits in 2001.” (RB) They all ‘looked out’ for each other and were not honest with their reviews, and everyone was given good reviews. Employees were scared to do something that would anger their superior and this is why they all became ‘yes men.’ This created a very unstable culture that was based on dishonesty and this caused Enron’s downfall.
Enron’s earlier organizational structure was different and it based its ideas on constructivism, where the employees were encouraged to achieve more. “Even internally, the Chief Finance Officer’s funding scheme was designed to make him rich at his employer’s expense.” (ACG) But the new system failed because it gave too much authority to the new and young managers. These people did not really have any close ties with the company and were given a lot of power before they could become aware of the core company values and norms. The employees were not given sound guidance and this led them to make many wrong decisions that cost the company millions of dollars. Since the top performers were given a lot of bonuses, the young managers tried to hard to perform well and made many mistakes on their way. This is bred individualism and perfectionism at Enron.
This culture led to socialization being rare and mentoring being nonexistent. There was unethical corner-cutting, there was no teamwork, and there was too much competition. New entrants into the company were given too much authority and they could make huge deals without higher approval. Layers of management were abolished making decision making decentralized. People were only motivated by the numbers. An emphasis was placed on growth earning and employees looked forward to huge bonuses and were motivated to have good relationships with the PRC. There wasn’t much institutional commitment because teamwork was undermined by individual ambition.
The company ultimately went bankrupt. The demise of the company resulted not only from improper accounting practices and the alleged corruption at the top but also from the organizational culture that resulted due to the corruption. The organizational culture can be described as being very competitive, individualistic, perfectionistic, and power-seeking. The organizational culture wasn’t as effective as it could have been. There should have been more emphasis placed on doing things well and valuing members who set and accomplish goals. The organization should also have valued creativity, quality, task accomplishment and individual growth. They should also have been motivated and encouraged. The company should also have been managed in a participative way and there should have been teamwork prevalent. A lot of authority shouldn’t have been given to new employees. Employees should have been friendly, open, supportive, and constructive.
Employees must have faced a lot of stress specially during the end of the year when their performance would have been evaluated and bonuses decided for. In Enron’s case, bonuses made a big bulk of an employee’s compensation. It would have been only natural for employees to be more competitive and trying to make good impressions. The managers were given the incentives of cash as well as stock rewards if they were found to be performing at a very high output. This caused many of them to act as entrepreneurs as well as intrapreneurs. They did not have to undergo any special training before joining the firms and they were straightway given the opportunity to make important large scale decisions. The hierarchy was also dissolved within the organization and the junior manager had just the same powers as a senior manager. This also caused some excitement amongst the newer employees and they were initiated to act in a manner fir for entrepreneurs.
Rather than being constructive, Enron’s organizational culture can be described as being aggressive-defensive. For one thing, the culture could have been seen as being very competitive. There was a pressure to make the numbers. People would not share critical information with others and there was a lot of unethical corner-cutting. Employees were also competitive when it came to compensation and bonuses. The employees wanted to maintain a favorable impression with the performance review committee and the decisions were believed to be mainly based on their relationships with each other. Many employees of Enron wouldn’t object to anything and there became prevalent a “yes-man culture.” People were afraid to get crossways with someone who could screw up their reviews. The PRC would also use this as a way of getting back at people who expressed disagreement or criticism. Negativism was rewarded.
Many of the old employees as well as new entrants had been given too much power and authority. They were able to make huge deals without any higher approval. There was an emphasis placed on earnings growth and there were no checks and balances. There was too much decentralization, layers of management were wiped out, too much leeway was given to young, inexperienced managers, and there was completely off hand management.
Things should have been handled differently at Enron. The emphasis should have been on doing things well and valuing members who set and accomplish goals. They would have also been encouraged to work in teams and set challenging but realistic goals, establish plans to meet those goals and pursuer them with enthusiasm. The employees should have been encouraged them to interact with others and to work on tasks and projects in ways that will assist them in satisfying their needs to grow and develop. The organization should also have valued creativity, quality, task accomplishment and individual growth. The employees should have been encouraged to gain enjoyment from their work, develop themselves, and take on new and interesting activities. They would also be motivated to work not only to make huge bonuses and impress the PRC but would also have worked for the betterment of the company.
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