Bakery reads like a typical small business story where rapid growth can be as detrimental and hard to manage as rapid contraction. Small business owners are typically the type of people who are rich with specific skills, but are missing fundamental management skills and are often ill equipped when it comes to managing rapid expansion of their individual business. Sundown Bakery is no different in my opinion.
Through this paper it is my intention to clearly identify some of the issues resulting from the rapid expansion and to recommend some possible solutions that would have helped them avoid their current situation. As I read through the story of Sundown Bakery’s rapid expansion, I could not help but be impressed with the broad diversity in the hiring practices of Carol Teinchek and Bruce Marshall. From the onset it was apparent to me that those individuals they were hiring would likely struggle with communication simply because of the diverse nature of the cultures they came from prior to working at Sundown Bakery.
As a Regional Manager for a Global Country I travel extensive internationally and know only too well about the difficulty that arises when cross mingling cultures if an effort is not made to recognize the individual characteristics of each person’s culture. Sundown Bakery would be no different having hired persons from El Salvador, Korea, and Canada during the initial stages of growth. My own analysis of the issues surrounding the communication problems at Sundown Bakery point bake to the almost immediate distance both Carol and Bruce put between themselves and the business.
As they were growing there did not appear to be any structure present and further it was apparent to me Carol and Bruce both stepped away from the day-to-day operations allowing those they had hired to manage the smaller details of operating the business and interacting with the customer base. From the very onset, I believe it was imperative the Carol and Bruce implement some structured communications. For example; there does not appear to be any instance of fundamental downward communication where either Carol or Bruce are communicating their objectives to any of the new employees. (Adler, 2009, pg. 2) This also appeared to be prevalent when they hired Hans Mikelson, who began his tenure by announcing sweeping changes in dress code, menu items, and formal training plans. All of these items are likely not negative on their own, but as Mikelson implemented the changes he did so in the same fashion Carol and Bruce had previously done by communicating with the employees at a distance through the informal interoffice memo. As a result, I was not surprised to read about the resentment that had built among the original employees, who had been in charge of the day-to-day operations prior to Mikelson’s arrival.
As the business grew rapidly, it was also not surprising to read that the employees had begun grumbling amongst themselves to each other and was less supportive of the entire organization. Certainly, this situation was further exacerbated by the continual hiring of new employees with vastly different cultural and physical backgrounds. As time passed each old and new employee alike found reasons to be resentful about the impersonal and distant way the company was being run.
Ultimately, the content of the message from Mikelson, and Carol and Bruce by extension, was not lacking, but there was a clear relational message being sent to each employee. (Adler, 2009, pg. 9) While I don’t believe that was ever the owner’s intent to alienate themselves from their employees, it happened all the same because the message was not given priority nor was the method in which the message was delivered. Clearly, Sundown Bakery has been a victim of their own success. The original company was very close knit and run with a very personal touch.
There seemed to be adequate upward and downward communication along with substantive content messages as well as positive relational messages. As the company grew the two owners clearly lost sight of what was important to their business from its inception. In a very poor attempt to restore and gain order they hired a man who had come from a very corporate background. Mikelson’s presence and management style created further distance due to the very impersonal manner in which messages were conveyed.
Mikelson’s content message may have been positive, but his relational message was clearly lacking any sort of personal touch, and despite the size of Sundown Bakery at the time of his hire, he obviously did not recognize this as a company with employees who had become accustomed to a very personal type of management style. The diverse cultures also played a role in the tensions mounting as demonstrated by Jose’s reluctance to take direction from a woman due to his upbringing. In my opinion, early structure and recognition were keys to making Sundown Bakery as successful as it could possibly be.
Carol and Bruce should have spent much more time interacting with their key employees as a way of keeping their fingers on the pulse of the operation as well as continuing to make the employees feel important and a part of the business. As the text states, “Communication is irreversible” (Adler, 2009, pg. 10) and in the case of Sundown Bakery, the communication thus far has followed a very negative path. Communication is a process, so in order to right the ship Carol and Bruce will need to make a concerted effort to engage their employees and re-create the family atmosphere they desire for their business.
They will clearly need to communicate this expectation to Hans Mikelson as well, which may lead to having to re-consider hiring him for this organization should he not be able to conform to this style of management. Carol and Bruce will have to be open to upward communication from their team and legitimately consider the team’s concerns and suggestions. The correction will not be easy, but it is certainly possible to make this the type of business they had in the beginning.