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«MICHAIL MAVROMATIS JOHAN OLOFSSON Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Division of Construction Management CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF ...»

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Every interview added new data, which fed back to the process. The derived data from the interviews were then matched to the equivalent theory to produce a trustworthy result and provide a solid ground for the analysis and discussion part. After disCHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 27 cussions with the CEO and the rest of the interviewees we agreed on keeping the empirical findings private. The way the empirical findings are exhibited is designed in order to make sure that answers are not identified with certain persons.

CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 Empirical findings This section presents the empirical findings gathered by the authors during 20 face-toface interviews with 7 employees at different positions within Platzer Fastigheter AB.

Initially, a case description is presented, followed by the four phases as conceived by

the authors. These phases are:

Establishing the vision • Planning for change • Implementing change • Sustaining change • Each phase is described separately by presenting the most important and relevant parts of the interviews. The use of the word ‘phase’ refers to the attempt of the authors to give the reader a clear picture of how the change evolved. Dubois and Gadde (2002) suggest that the researcher, by constantly going ‘back and forth’ from one type of research activity to another and between empirical observations and theory, is able to expand his understanding of both theory and empirical phenomena. Below follows a description of the company and the substantial organizational changes that were conducted.

2.1 Company description – Platzer Fastigheter AB Platzer’s history reaches back to 1914 when Sven Platzer was born in London. In the year 1948 he became partner in the construction company Widmark & Platzer, which became Platzer Construction through a series of mergers in 1969. The company becomes publicly listed at the Stockholm OTC stock exchange in 1983 and in 1991 it is listed at the OMX A-list. During 1996 and 1997 the company refines its business through selling its subsidiaries, two construction firms in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

During these years Ernströmgruppen is starting to buy stocks in the company, and becomes the principal shareholder in 1998. The new owners changed the company’s strategy via renaming it to Platzer Real Estate, and relocated the head office from Stockholm to Gothenburg.

During the following years, the property portfolio is concentrated to commercial properties in the Gothenburg area. In the year 2001, Platzer Fastigheter AB becomes a wholly owned subsidiary to Ernströmsgruppen, and is delisted from the stock exchange. Until today, the ownership structure has been expanded to 8 shareholders.

Platzer has a leasable area of approximately 400 000 m2 divided on 55 properties, and their EBITDA is 258 MSEK and the profit after taxes are 157 MSEK, compared to 73 MSEK in the previous year (Platzer 2013). The company is fast growing; during the last year their property management result were increased by 50 percent to 130 MSEK, the property portfolio value was increased by 108 MSEK, they acquired 9 properties to a value of 1499 MSEK and sold 4 properties to a value of 171 MSEK (Ibid).

Platzers vision is to become “the leading commercial real estate concern in the Gothenburg area, the natural first hand choice”, and they will try to reach that via their business case which states that they shall “from a leading position, with efficiency, sustainability and high quality, develop and manage commercial properties in the Gothenburg area for the benefit of customers, employees and owners” (Ibid).

CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 29 2.2 Case description In the progress of fulfilling their mission and vision statements, Platzer is today on a journey towards expansion and later on to be re-introduced into the Nasdaq-OMX stock exchange. In order to be prepared for the future, they have recently conducted a series of changes within their organization, consisting of a new organizational structure, new core values and an implementation of key performance indicators. The aim is to adapt the organizational structure towards new challenges concerning a larger property portfolio and support that expansion through a more specialized support function and focus more on rental, customer relations and property development (Ibid). The new core values are: Freedom through responsibility, Openness and Longterm development.

The change in the organizational structure aims to re-organize the organization from a matrix organization where “everyone knows a little about everything” (Platzer 2013) to a more linear structure with more delegated responsibilities and more of a specialist organization, both within the operational as well as the supporting business areas.

The organizational structure before the change is presented in Figure 11 and the structure after the change are presented in Figure 12.

Legend to the organizational structure:

BD – Business developer, E/A – Economy and administration, PM – Property manager, TM – Technical manager, CT – Caretaker, O – Operations, MO – Market operator, PL – Project leader, P&O – Project and operation Figure 11 Platzer’s organizational structure before the change CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 Figure 12 Platzer’s organizational structure after the change In order to have a better understanding of the time aspects of the change, Figure 13 presents a timeline of how the events evolved and which were the most important milestones.

Figure 13 Timeline of the organizational change CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 31 2.3 Employees’ perception of the change The interviews focused on how the employees perceived the change. The questions attempted to unveil the main worries and thoughts of the interviewees. The following sections present the specific findings.

2.3.1 How do the employees perceive the company The company is characterized by the big amount of properties, which are managed by a few people. As they describe, their work is meaningful and value generating in a quite profound way. The corporate culture is not clearly defined but the interviews show that the company is functioning under an umbrella of consensus and openness.

The employees help each other, the older generations support the younger ones and in general the everyday routine is rather pleasant. Another important factor is the increased attention of the leadership to the well-being of the employees by providing breakfast and coffee every day. When they were asked about the best thing about

working for the company the employees pointed out the following:

Friendly environment • Positive working atmosphere • Everyone knows each other • Informal communication • Good leaders • In the question ‘what would you like to change in the company’, the employees did not really have serious concerns or issues that need to be changed. All the minor issues that want to be changed are believed to be solved after this organizational change.

2.3.2 How the employees see the change The employees are aware of where the change is leading them according to the interviews. As they narrate, they are on board on this ‘journey’. As for their readiness to change, most of them think that they were ready for it, even if some of them did not expect such big changes in their way of work. The significance of the change is rather high for most of them but at the same time they don’t think that it is a great event for the company. Furthermore the employees are no strangers to change since all of them have been through change processes before. The lessons that they have taken from

previous change procedures are:

One should not remain silent but speak up • Involvement makes them more motivated instead of just receiving orders • Respect for those who have difficulties in adapting to the change • Clear information distribution • The transition period should be as small as possible • Participation is very good but someone needs to step up and take a final deci sion Some employees need time to think before they accept the change • Change must take its time • A leader should be sensitive but give clear instructions at the same time • The leader should listen and be patient. Even if people are negative, a leader • must find a way to break that barrier by letting them influence the process CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 The third round of interviews showed that the employees underestimated the change.

It was only the middle management that pointed out that it was bigger than anticipated. The middle managers believed that the rest of the employees were affected more than expected by the change. The employees themselves however, did not see any difference. At the same time, the CEO narrated that he ‘passed the ball’ to the middle management and was not willing to be more involved with the process.

2.3.3 How the change was communicated The interviewees were first asked in which way they would like the change to be communicated. Most of them, regardless of position, answered that the change should be communicated in an orderly fashion. Some of them would like to have quite frequent updates and others would not really be interested in knowing everything in detail. The kick-off was much appreciated as a communication channel. Some of the employees would like to have at least one more kick-off which should be solely focused on the organizational change itself.

How was the change actually communicated? The employees were satisfied by the communication of the organizational change in general. They would however appreciate a more clear delegation of the new roles in the new structure. Those that appeared to be discomforted by the new delegation of roles and teams were the caretakers who are the front-line of the company’s operations. They seemed to experience a lack of direction and clarity regarding their new areas of responsibility. As for the technical managers, they appeared to be quite satisfied with the communication and the level of information received throughout the process. In fact one of the interviewees narrated that the amount of information can actually be ‘too much’ sometimes. As for the CEO, he thinks that the best way for him to communicate is via the middle management. He also thinks that the monthly meetings are sufficient for him to communicate. The strong point of this change process is considered to be communication by most of the interviewees.

2.3.4 Leadership development throughout the process One of the elements that were under the spotlight during the interviews was the development of every employee as a leader as well as the development of their managers. All the interviewees responded that their leadership attributes were going to develop because most of them are taking more responsibilities after the organizational change. Especially the interviewees who were in leading positions regarded this organizational change as a good way to improve their leadership skills. Most of them will get more persons in their teams as well as a bigger amount of responsibility. As for the CEO he is considered to improve as a leader after this organizational change.

His subordinates mostly note the fact that he could emphasize more on the informal aspects of communication, which are an important factor of leadership. As the CEO himself notes, one of the reasons behind this change was to delegate more responsibilities through the hierarchy and develop leadership in multiple levels. The interviewees were asked about which attributes they appreciate on a change leader. In this question

particularly, it is important to distinguish between the employees in leading and nonleading positions. Starting with the employees who don’t have a leading position, these are the qualities that they appreciate on a leader:

Relaxed personality • Good in communicating • Clear, concrete decisions • CHALMERS, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Master’s Thesis 2013:120 33 On the other hand, the ones who hold leader post expressed the following regarding

the qualities of a leader:

Openness • Freedom through responsibility • Coaching leadership • ‘Selling’ something to the subordinates only if you believe in it • Clear decisions • Accept mistakes • Reward of excelling employees • It should be noted that in this answer the leaders responded by using the following words: ‘Freedom through responsibility, openness’ These two keywords along with ‘long-term development’ are the products of the kickoff in which the company decided their core values.

2.3.5 Employee participation in the process The employees were asked on how they perceived their participation in the process.

Were they spectators or active participants? The range of answers varies between the ones who have leading positions and the ones who don’t. The ones who possess leading posts seem to feel active in the organizational change process. Furthermore, those who are members of the board can be considered as the ‘architects’ of this change process and this reflects to their answers. The rest of the employees, feel that their opinions influenced the process, but not in a significant way.

2.3.6 Use of external consultation in the process The company did not use any external consultants in any stage of the organizational change. The board did not consider it necessary to use any external help. The basic argument was that this process had to be born and raised by the employees themselves in order for them to be more committed to it. Some of the employees who do not have leading posts however, think that some external help might have enriched the process.

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