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The name of the organisation is John Lewis & Partners which operates under a British parent company: John Lewis Partnership plc. The headquarters of the company is in London, England. It is a high-end departmental store with operations across Great Britain with concessions in Australia and the Republic of Ireland. The organisation sells general merchandise which means it does not have a specific target market. Today, there are more than 51 stores of John Lewis & Partners. The organisation employs approximately 38,100 people with a revenue of more than 3.78 billion pounds.
The website of the organisation is https://www.johnlewis.com/.
John Lewis & Partners, as the name suggests, is a partnership type of organisation. A partnership organisation is defined as an association of at least two persons who become co-owners of a business to share losses and profits. The success of a partnership organisation is dependent on confidence cooperation, understanding and members adjusting to appreciate and accommodate the different views that are provided during decision making (Crowther, and Trott, 2004). The business model of John Lewis & Partners works in such a manner that employees are given part-ownership of the firm, a share of the annual profits/ losses as well as a say or input on how the operations are run. From a theoretical point of view, employees become more invested in their responsibilities which increases both profits and productivity.
An organisational structure is a hierarchically arranged system that directs how various activities are implemented to achieve corporate objectives (Zheng, Yang and McLean, 2010). The activities include responsibilities, rules and roles put forward by the company. An organisational structure indicates the flow of information in various departments of a company. The structuring offers the company with a visual representation of how business is shaped and how the company can move forward towards achieving organisational goals. A company’s organisational structure is illustrated using diagrams or charts where the leaders sit at the top while the subordinates are placed at the bottom (Zheng et al., 2010). A centralised organisational structure includes a well set up chain of command. However, in a decentralised structure, decision making is divided into various departments since they have different degrees of independence (Colquitt Lepine, Wesson, and Gellatly, 2011). The organisational structure helps the company to determine how power is assigned, coordinated and controlled as well as how information is shared between various management levels. A company’s organisational structure depends on the strategy of a company as well as its goals and objectives.
When it comes to John Lewis & Partners, the company has an unusual organisational structure which includes an employees council, an independent press, and a profit-share scheme. At the top, there is the Partnership Council, Partnership Board, and the Chairman. The rest of the organisational structure is shown in the image below.
Figure 1 Structure of John$ Lewis Partnership
John Lewis & Partners revolve around the principles of democracy. The organisation looks for leaders who have the company behaviours at the heart of management. Therefore, this means that the leaders in the company have to have the ability to promote company results by fulfilling the potential of other employees. The company has been there for more than a century, and it still focuses on the long term; meaning that leadership in the company is a journey by itself. John Lewis & Partners is led by executive directors who run the daily business activities of the company. The hierarchical order for the executive directors from the highest to the lowest ranks include the chairman, executive director of operations, executive director Waitrose and executive director of finance among other departmental directors (Auerbach, 2012). John Lewis & Partners also have a nominations committee that conducts business under the terms of reference. The primary responsibilities of the committee are to ensure that there are adequate plans for the organisation’s board, that there are remarkable talents within the company’s partnership that provide the expertise and skills needed for the future collaboration of the board and that there is a reliable procedure for making appointments for the partnership board. John and Lewis have more committees such as the remuneration committee and the audit and risk committee, which are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of activities in the firm (Auerbach, 2012).
The company is the largest employee-owned UK business, and it is also one of the largest in the world. John Lewis & Partners primary focus is on all intents and social enterprise, and this means that the profits made by the company are reinvested to the business operations of the firm. The main products sold by this partnership include watches, clothing, furniture, beddings and beds, watches, financial services, food and cosmetics, among other retail-related products. The company has a constitution that ensures that it makes enough profits from the sales made and that the profit is used to make the partnership going (Storey and Salaman, 2017). Therefore, the aim is not to make the highest amounts but to keep partners and customers ahead of the profits. John and Lewis continue making partners as these are the main contributors to the smooth running of the business. The company has 80,800 partners and 33 customer distribution sites. The products sold by the company are derived from the partners of John & Lewis as they complement the business model daily. The primary services offered by the company include; inspiring experiences, designing and sourcing, growing and creating, selling, distributing and providing unique products to customers. The primary stakeholders who ensure that business runs effectively daily include; customers, the environment, partners, producers and suppliers, communities and lenders. The partnership is bound by power, knowledge and making a profit (Storey and Salaman, 2017).
The major task of operations at the company can be referred to as retailing. Retailing for John Lewis & Partners includes the management of people (customers, and employees), the supply chain, cash operations, the layout of the stores, physical inventory, pricing and promotions, and master data management. The company directly sells different accessories of products to consumers. Thus, the company’s main role is ensuring that it manages all issues associated with the buying and selling of the general merchandise available in various stores across Great Britain.
The possible problems in retailing are associated with the management of employees, customers, and the supply chain of the organization. Some of the problems can be poor management and leadership which fails to provide solutions to underlying company products. Poor leadership means mismanagement of funds and involvement in unethical practices which negatively affects the reputation of the organisation. Poor reputation has customers become disloyal and chose to purchase from competitors. Other problems include failure to meet the demand. In other words, having more demand than the available supply. This drives consumers away. In addition, retailing low-quality products or failure to pay suppliers on time disrupts the supply chain and hence the business. Finally, digital disruption is an obstacle that can affect the retailing operations of the organisation.
John Lewis & Partners can develop procedures, limits, guidelines, protocols and rules which are essential for directing the processes and works of departments and employees (Johnson, Robertson, Cooper and Davison, 2018). These controls will help in setting up procedures and rules which dictate employee behaviour, financial transactions and other specific practices done in the various departments of the company. The controls can be set up depending on the problems of individual employees, collectively or on the partners.
Problems facing the operation of finances can be curbed by introducing a specific internal business control target that regulates finances and financial procedures. Through this, John Lewis & Partners will improve communication in the company, and this will allow the managers to be more cautious on whether their efforts meet annual objectives thereby implementing procedures that prevent financial errors and fraud. Since John Lewis & Partners has various internal departments, the internal business controls will help the departments to monitor their budgets as well as setting limits for specific issues which trigger financial problems in the department (Johnson et al., 2018).
There are operational problems that affect the efficient running of the business as well as the productivity of John Lewis & Partners. Therefore, the company can help all the departments to work together towards achieving a common goal. This can be done by issuing regular management memos and conducting interdepartmental meetings to address specific issues. Moreover, John Lewis & Partners can hold mandatory sessions to update safety regulations, grievance policies and attendance rules which address any problems that affect productivity.
Another problem in operations may be avoiding violations and legal compliances (Paranque and Willmott, 2014). The threat of workplace rules and lawsuits may be a big concern for some employees, and therefore, some of them tend to ignore them or take them lightly. Setting up anti-discrimination policies and rules which address specific and avoidable problems can help employees relax and focus on the main objective without having to worry about breaking any legal compliance since they are aware of what is needed of them.
An organisation can use software’s to streamline tasks and assignments from the company. It is sometimes difficult to trace task assignments since one has to go through old tasks to get more information that is relevant to the ongoing projects. Therefore, the software helps to indicate the employee who has been assigned a specific task and how to go about it. Moreover, a useful software program helps to streamline the functions provided so that information is correctly assigned and stored (Patterson, and Hennessy, 2016). For example, software such as Gusto or Culture Amp helps human resource leaders in a company to evaluate vast employee data. Big organizations such as Hulu are already using the software to get a better understanding and to engage with their global teams.
Workflow management software helps an organization to keep track of employee’s workdays Von Krogh, (2012). The software supports the management to monitor the completed tasks, thereby ensuring that there are no tasks that slip through the cracks and could lead to cost issues to the business—moreover, software’s which are easy to operate in a business increase the efficiency of employees.
One of the main concerns of any company is how to keep hold of their clients. An effective software system can be used to store and manage contact lists. Misplaced or lost contact information can be a huge missed chance to do business and not just with the client but also with the referrals they would have informed. Therefore, an organization should have one, centrally organized location for contact lists to keep in touch with essential assets to the business (Von Krogh, 2012). For instance, chatbots help during night shifts as they make sure that employees get what they need even if there is no human interaction. An organization can build their customer bots, and some of the famous companies using this are the Facebook messengers and Chatfuel used by Adidas.
One of the best aspects of having the software is that it can be automated to send reminders to customers about products and services and also to automatically remind employees on recurring tasks (Patterson, and Hennessy, 2016). Therefore, this will increase the time which was used before, for tracking and organizing tasks, for other purposes.
There are four steps in which John Lewis $ Partners can keep check and control on the smooth flow of the daily tasks and operations. These four steps include establishing standards and policy, measuring performance, comparing performance standards and taking the necessary corrective measures or action against discrepancies. Rules and policies apply on certain critical aspects such as communication, receiving complaints from employees and customers, and providing timely feedback. Considering it is the era of technology, standards and policy should also entail the use of social media by employees.
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Auerbach, S. (2012). Conceptualizing leadership for authentic partnerships: A continuum to inspire practice. In School leadership for authentic family and community partnerships (pp. 41-63). Routledge.
Colquitt, J., Lepine, J. A., Wesson, M. J., and Gellatly, I. R. (2011). Organizational behaviour: Improving performance and commitment in the workplace (Vol. 375). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Crowther, J. L., and Trott, B. (2004). Partnering with purpose: A guide to strategic partnership development for libraries and other organizations. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Johnson, S., Robertson, I., Cooper, C. L., and Davison, N. (2018). Wellbeing in the John Lewis Partnership. In WELL-BEING (pp. 189-197). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Paranque, B., and Willmott, H. (2014). Cooperatives—saviours or gravediggers of capitalism? Critical performativity and the John Lewis Partnership. Organization, 21(5), 604-625.
Patterson, D. A., and Hennessy, J. L. (2016). Computer Organization and Design ARM Edition: The Hardware Software Interface. Morgan kaufmann.
Storey, J., and Salaman, G. (2017). Employee ownership and the drive to do business responsibly: a study of the John Lewis Partnership. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 33(2), 339-354.
Von Krogh, G. (2012). How does social software change knowledge management? Toward a strategic research agenda. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 21(2), 154-164.
Zheng, W., Yang, B., and McLean, G. N. (2010). Linking organizational culture, structure, strategy, and organizational effectiveness: Mediating role of knowledge management. Journal of Business Research, 63(7), 763-771
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