Business / Organizational Behavior Of Williams-Sonoma

Organizational Behavior Of Williams-Sonoma

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Autor:  anton  05 November 2010
Tags:  Organizational,  Behavior,  Williams,  sonoma
Words: 1196   |   Pages: 5
Views: 625


Williams-Sonoma is a nationwide specialty retailer that sells high quality, upscale products for the home through its 478 retail stores and various direct-to-customer channels. Its retail concepts are comprised of Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teen, Chambers, West Elm and Hold Everything. Williams-Sonoma, a San Francisco based company, generated $2,361 million in revenue dollars. The company employs approximately 6,000 people nationwide. Locally, there are approximately 900 people employed at its four distribution centers. Williams-Sonoma operates the largest distribution center, over a million square feet, in the Memphis area. The organization rates a 10 in job satisfaction because it pays well and offers excellent health benefits; however, opportunities for advancement are limited locally due to employee loyalty and long tenures. It rates a 12 on the functioning of small groups due to its commitment to customer service and its ability to maintain a 98% service level of a two day product delivery within its direct-to-customer channels. Company culture rates an 11 because of high employee loyalty. Its employees are highly committed and loyal to the company in partly due to its “Friends and Family” referral program, in which employees are allowed to refer friends and family for work during peak shipping seasons. The average tenure in the distribution center is between 6-10 years. Finally, Williams-Sonoma rates a 12 in organizational performance because of its high product delivery rate, high customer service level and high customer. Williams-Sonoma is a sales leader in the gourmet cuisine and cookware industry and is a favorite among high profile celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.


One of Williams-Sonoma’s organizational strengths is its ability to shape and reinforce culture through employee recognition programs discussed in chapter 16. Employees with perfect attendance quarterly receive $100 rewards and an additional $600 if they are able to achieve perfect attendance for one year. This equates to a potential $1,000 in incentive pay above and beyond an employee’s annual base salary. In addition, employees may be recognized for exceptional work performance each month through the company’s “Catch The Spirit” award of $50. Each month, departmental managers nominate and recognize employees who exemplified high performance. In order to promote workplace safety, drawings are held for each that a loss time accident doe not transpire in the warehouse. Prizes include $50, $100 and various company products. Finally, employees receive cash rewards of $1,000 for reporting employees who abuse the company discount program in its retail stores. With the use of such incentive and employee recognition programs, Williams-Sonoma is able to minimize employee turnover and maintain high employee loyalty in the distribution centers.

The distribution centers are comprised of an extremely diverse workforce that includes large Asian, Hispanic and African-American and Caucasian populations. Another company strength is its ability to acknowledge cultural differences and preventing communication barriers mentioned in Chapter 8 of the text. Each year, the company allows its Asian employees time off to conduct their annual voyage back to their homelands. They are typically off work between 6-8 weeks without penalty to their job security. In addition, Williams-Sonoma does an excellent job of posting company information in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Each department, especially Human Resources, also has typically one employee who is fluent in English and his native tongue. As a result, management is able to communicate to those who are not fluent in English.


Williams-Sonoma falls short in taking advantage of today’s information highway and technological advances when it comes to accessing and retrieving relevant data needed for decision making. Its information support systems are slow and antiquated. The company operates on aged serves, aged 386 personal computers and Windows 95. Several times a week, operations are halted due to server and desktop crashes. As discussed in Chapter 10, the ability to get data quickly and accurately crucial to decision making among management. However, this is major weakness for this organization.

Although the company has a various recognition programs and a high employee loyalty, management does a poor job in enforcing performance standards and rates in the distribution center. Each department has own set of productivity rates. Present day, employees are not held accountable for maintaining production expectation. As a result, upper management observes highs and lows in overall performance and product throughput instead of consistency in overall performance.


In order to alleviate its server capacity constraints, speed its data retrieval process and reduce the number business systems used, Williams-Sonoma should upgrade to Windows 2000, purchase new servers and implement the SAP program. SAP is a customized program package that integrates a company’s supply chain. It’s primary function is the ability for order management, sales and distribution to communicate electronically with the financial systems and controls by providing real-time information for decision making. The system is fast, user friendly and most importantly real-time. It is beneficial because it reduces human error, improves productivity, improves data accuracy and enhances the decision making process.

Due to constant organizational change and restructuring, middle and lower management experiences high levels of stress, low retention, job insecurity, anxiety and backstabbing. The senior leaders at Williams-Sonoma should develop detailed organizational matrix that clearly defines roles and expectations. Senior management should determine the specific number of middle and lower managers needed to optimize the facilities’ performance. It should also determine the necessary soft and hard skills needed to perform their roles effectively. Currently, its front line managers consist of employees who have been with the company for long periods of time and possess little or no formal training or computer skills. If the company wants to continually compete with similar industries, it must implement several in-house training programs that involve communication, decision making and computer applications training. It should also allow managers who want to obtain a degree to work less hours on school nights. In order to minimize job performance anxiety and do some preventative stress management, Williams-Sonoma should also restrict the number of organizational changes within a year to one.


It is becoming increasingly difficult to eliminate stress at work and home. Society and employers are more fast paced than ever with the help technological advances in what is now called the information age. We are expected to perform efficiently and effectively in shorter timeframes. Consequently, our personal relationships, work relations and health suffer as a result of higher demands. It is extremely difficult to balance our home and work life. The bible is clear when it comes to setting priorities and dealing with stress in our everyday live. Matthew 6:33 says “…Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. In short as Christians, we must first learn to get our priorities in order today and not worry about tomorrow. Only then will everything else fall into place according to God’s plan for our lives.

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