HR at Coca-Cola and the Need for Change

Coca-Cola Company is a multinational corporation that specialized in beverages. It focuses in the production, distribution, and marketing of non-alcoholic beverages, with Coca-Cola as its most well-known flagship company. The corporation has a franchising approach in which bottlers are granted exclusive rights and have the ability to shape market dynamics in their local territories (Friedman, 2009). The corporation has also expanded through a mergers and acquisitions strategy as it tried to expand its influence around the globe. The company employs over 700,000 people worldwide to manage its activities. It is crucial for the organization to ensure that this human resource is effectively managed so as to reinforce the organization’s competitive advantage (Friedman, 2009).

The most recognizable aspect of the organization is its global nature of its operations. It is the people that enhance this global paradigm, and it is important that the human resource department is organized in a way that best reflects this dynamic (Creasey et al., 2014). The human resource should reflect the cultural, economic, and political differences that are to be found in the different parts of the world. At the moment, the HR policy is essentially designed to attract and recruit the best talent in the world which will then enable the organization to assume a leadership position it has fought to maintain for decades (Pasmore, Woodman, & Shani, 2010). The HR policy of the future should place into consideration the mode of growth the organization has embarked on in recent times. As there is little ground for organic growth, Coca-Cola is poised to see further growth through a series of mergers and acquisitions as it seeks to consolidate the beverage market. Competitors such as PepsiCo have the intention of toppling Coca-Cola’s dominance in emerging markets. To ensure continued success, the organization has to ensure that the new employees gained through these mergers and acquisitions are swiftly integrated with Coca-Cola’s organizational culture and values. However, the organization should be willing to not only educate the new employees who may arrive as a result of these acquisitions but also be willing to integrate their experiences with their structure (Sistare, Shiplett, & Buss, 2015).

It is important for the organization to change their approach to HR management as the 21st-century environment is constantly shifting. To gain a competitive advantage, the organization should increasingly partner with these new employees as they possess the knowledge needed to penetrate local markets and establish market dominance (Sistare, Shiplett, & Buss, 2015). Additionally, there have been incidences of corporate scandals from employees who come from these acquisitions. A change in approach to their management would lead to better relations in addition to market efficiency. It will also enable the organization to create increase harmony and synergy in a way that will increase the ability of the organization to increase its competitive advantage (Creasey et al., 2014).

The Organizational Readiness to Change Assessment (ORCA) tool in conjunction with the Evaluation Capacity Diagnostic Tool. These are tools that allow the organization to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and find the most opportune pathway that will maximize the opportunities available for growth. ORCA allows an organization to implement evidence-based practices and this important when it comes to restructuring organizational policy to fit the needs of the clients. The ECDT is designed to help the organization pinpoint its strong areas of capacity as well as the areas that need improvement. Its usefulness is reflected in the fact that it encourages the employees to be part and parcel of the change process (Pasmore, Woodman, & Shani, 2010).

In looking at ORCA, there are three major platforms that are used to clarify the need for change. First, there is the evidence assessment which shows that there have been various levels of discord among incumbent employees and the new ones that are reflected in operational inefficiencies. Evidence shows that a lack of cultural integration between Coca-Cola and the acquired organizations has already resulted in a dip in standards of service delivery and this is harmful to business practice. Context assessment shows that much of these changes affect all levels of the organization from the senior leadership to the staff members. Leadership feedback is important in orienting new employees to be in line with company policy (Sistare, Shiplett, & Buss, 2015). The facilitation assessment shows that the organization has the necessary attitudes, behaviors, and skills needed to champion the needed HR management changes. The organization has always adapted a learning approach towards new challenges, and this is helpful in creating meaningful connections with new partners and employees (Creasey et al., 2014).

Change Management Plan

To implement these changes, the organization should ensure that the top leadership is in agreement with the agenda. It should take its time and elucidate on the scenarios that emerge as a result of the acquisitions. It is important to factor in commentaries from customers and stakeholders who have been directly affected by these changes. The firm should then identify the vocal leaders and employees who are willing to go the extra mile and effect these changes. These employees should be taken through team-building initiatives so as to create unity of purpose. The most chronic areas of discord should be given priority (Kotter, 2012). At this point, it is important to ensure that these leaders are sourced from ‘both’ sides. A clear vision should be stated that emphasizes on collaboration and a continuous willingness to learn. The company should emphasize other values such as commitment to service delivery, continuous improvement, and empathy. These values should be communicated through company-wide communication systems. Communication should also entail listening to employee’s concerns. At every juncture, the organization should clarify the vision and be willing to adjust any contentious issues. Since the organization is committed towards greater levels of cooperation, it is advisable that there be established metrics of measuring these changes. The metrics should cover customer satisfaction ratings, employee job satisfaction, and close cooperation with other crucial stakeholders such as suppliers and the local authorities (Kotter, 2012).

However, momentum has to be maintained and issues discussed openly by the members concerned. The Kaizen process of change will allow the organization to measure changes in incremental stages. Coca-Cola should ensure that the employees are attuned to the knowledge that there is always room for small improvements. Kaizen philosophy will enable the organization to stick to the important facts and allow the employees to integrate well with their new environment. The success stories need to be discussed at every opportunity so as to create a culture that encourages collaboration among employees (Molen & Gramsbergen-Hoogland, 2005). The desire to learn and the patterns for successful implementation should be communicated well to future employees. Those who excel should be publicly commended for their efforts as well.

Resistance and Communication

The organization should anticipate resistance to the proposed plans to initiate change. One reason for this is anxiety and uncertainty with regards to the future. Another cause of resistance is organizational politics. Mergers and acquisitions create a climate of tension in organizations, and it is crucial that this tension be resolved quickly. The fear of failure is another major cause of resistance to change (Creasey et al., 2014). A new business environment brings with it new challenges which necessitate the need to instill belief and confidence in the worker’s minds. The expectations from the leadership should be that the employees are always willing to cooperate if they will be given the right guidance and assurances. A clear communication strategy should entail open conversation with employees through the delivery of as much information as possible. The employees should then be part of the decision-making process which will serve to create a sense of ownership among the employees (Sistare, Shiplett, & Buss, 2015).

Sustaining Change

Once changed has been accepted and employees are on board with the new strategies, the organization should then work hard to ensure that these changes are sustained for long-term success (Sistare, Shiplett, & Buss, 2015). The change process must be linked with benefits realization tactics in which there is the awareness that the changes are linked to the overall mission and vision of the organization. Additionally, the proposed changes need to be placed in a time-box which will encourage the employees to hasten their decision-making processes (Molen & Gramsbergen-Hoogland, 2005). It will create a sense of urgency among them, and it is crucial that these efforts are rewarded. Large scale changes should be broken down into smaller pieces and success stories generated in a way that will encourage all the stakeholders to pursue further development. Since the organization is a global entity, it is always advisable that the changes implemented be broken down into smaller segments that are quantifiable and achievable in a gradual manner (Creasey et al., 2014).


Creasey, T., Taylor, T., Hiatt, J., & Boyle, R. (2014). Best practices in change management (1st ed.). [Loveland, CO]: Prosci.

Friedman, B. A. (2009). Human resource management role implications for corporate reputation. Corporate Reputation Review, 12(3), 229-244.

Kotter, J. (2012). Leading change (1st ed.). Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.

Molen, H. & Gramsbergen-Hoogland, Y. (2005). Communication in Organizations (1st ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Pasmore, W., Woodman, R., & Shani, A. (2010). Research in organizational change and development (1st ed.). Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Sistare, H., Shiplett, M., & Buss, T. (2015). Innovations in Human Resource Management (1st ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

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