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Organization Management Kudler Fine Foods

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The Organizational Behavior of Kudler Fine Foods

Kudler Fine Foods is a triplex of successful gourmet food stores nestled in the San Diego metropolitan area of southern California. The gourmet food store is a one-stop shop for the freshest ingredients and most unique tools serving the most discriminating cooks. Kathy Kudler, the President, who had tired of her marketing position with a large defense contractor as it involved constant travel and pressures typical of corporate life, founded the company in 1998. The mission of Kudler’s is to provide a delightful shopping experience for customers through exceptional worldwide epicurean product selection and a knowledgeable and helpful staff. The Kudler Fine Foods organizational culture, structure, leadership influences on motivation, as well as internal and external drivers for change will be analyzed throughout this paper.

Kudler Fine Foods Organizational Culture

The Kudler Fine Foods visual culture is apparent in the first sentence of the mission statement. “Kudler Fine Foods mission is to provide our customers the finest in selected foodstuffs, wines, and related needs in an unparalleled consumer environment” (University of Phoenix, 2004). All stores are 16,000 square feet and are located in fashionable shopping centers in upscale neighborhoods. Employee performance measures reflect multiple areas of the visual culture, such as, courteous interactions with customers and coworkers, remembering frequent shopper’s names. For example, Ledonna Avery the Assistant Bakery and Pastries Manager at the Del Mar location was given an exceeds expectations in her 2004 performance review for making files of her customers frequent purchases, birthdays and other important items. She would send out cute notices and provide samples, all in an effort to make her customers feel special. As a result she was promoted to a leadership position despite her having the least seniority with the company. In addition to what customers may hear or feel, what they see is of equal importance and employees’ performance is measured in their maintaining a neat, clean work area and tidy uniformed professional attire. Policies clearly state that if an employee appears untidy or unkempt, that they will be sent home to change and will not be paid for this time.

“At the core of organizational culture, there are basic core beliefs that are widely shared, that operate unconsciously, and that are considered nonnegotiable” (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002, p. 109). Honesty, consistency and predictability are Kudler’s core principles that are the foundation for all performance and leadership decision-making supporting the visual culture. Kathy Kudler exemplifies leadership in the culture through involvement at all levels daily. Kudler’s appears to foster an academic culture preferring to hire staff that is interested in lifelong association in the industry with a methodical climb up the career ladder. She involves her managers in decision-making and when locating new products, involves them in testing and determination of marketability. Kathy has developed an infrastructure of policies that support all human resource decisions.

Above the market compensation and incentive programs for employees are built around customer satisfaction, which is measured quarterly, employee satisfaction and operational performance metrics of sales and profitability. Employees are provided a level of creative license in performing their roles and managers appear to delegate important tasks to them evidenced by Meredith Nguyen, a Computer Support Specialist, being independently entrusted with the computer system implementation at the Encinitas location. Gomez-Mejia and Balkin, (2002), noted that employees of Cisco Systems, a router company, also supporting creativity and innovation, gave employees greater responsibility and found that employees were more likely to trust their coworkers and work in cooperation as opposed to in competition with them. Kudler’s mission is sustained through innovative cooking classes provided to customers and employees. The classes assist employees in becoming familiar with new products, foster creativity and draws customers in to purchase epicurean delights at more upscale margins.

Kudler Fine Foods Organizational Structure

Organizational structure is a formal system of relationships that determines lines of authority (who reports to whom) and the tasks assigned to individuals and units (who does what task and with which department) (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002). Some of the factors affecting Kudler Fine Food’s organizational structure are its size, hierarchical design and span of control. While the administrative offices have a vertical organization structure indicating who has the authority to make decisions and who is expected to supervise which subordinates (Gomez-Mejia & Balkin, 2002), the company’s stores show a horizontal or product structure.

The administrative offices have a vertical structure with unity of command subordinates having one supervisor. The company’s managers and supervisors directly control the subordinates’ work including hiring, discharging, evaluating and rewarding them (line authority). The line managers (finance & accounting, store operations and administration & human resources directors) contribute to the strategic goals of the organization. The span of control of the organization is small allowing managers and supervisors to have more control over their subordinates. The organization has a high level of formalization, providing written documentation such as policies and procedures, job descriptions and job classifications. They are projecting to lower the degree of formalization to concentrate more on improving efficiency and client service. In order to do this, the company is benchmarking Nordstrom, a retail store who caters to affluent customers who only has one rule in its employee handbook. Nordstrom’s builds everything in the organization around providing exceptional customer experience.

The stores’ horizontal product structure is organized into specialized product units (product & foodstuffs, spirits, cheeses & wines, meats & seafood and bakery & pastries). The organizational structure design of Kudler Fine Foods is, then a mixture of mechanistic and organic designs, using a mechanistic design in its centralized functions at its main offices (emphasis on vertical relationship) while using an organic design on its stores (emphasis on horizontal relationship) to be more responsive to customer needs. The organization’s interest



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