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Evolution of the organizational structure in relation to the evolution of the

strategies and the environment


Several of the strategies put in place by the company had an impact on
the organizational structure.
Big changes took place at the beginning of 2012 when Jim FitzGibbon,
president Worldwide Hotel Operations, announced its retirement. He
continued to be involved with the company until the end of 2012 though,
serving in an advisory role when Four Season was going through a
transition to a new organizational structure.
Not only the company was giving the decisional power to a new
generation of leadership, but also transitioning to a new and elevated
hotel operational structure. Four Seasons is now adding two regional
Presidents of Hotel Operations. The first one is responsible for providing a
strategic leadership for hotel operations throughout the Asia Pacific region,
which is the fastest growing part of the company; the regional manager for
Americas instead assumes responsibility for hotel operations in Canada,
the United States and South America. These appointments are consistent
with Four Seasons long term focus on promotion from within and
strengthen the companys ability to deliver best in class results and
sustainable growth in the years ahead (Jim FitzGibbon to retire from Four
Seasons, 2011).
In addition to these important appointments, Four Seasons is also creating
a new executive position to oversee global product and innovation: The
Executive Vice President for Product and Innovation.
This newly created role, entails the responsibility for overseeing the
company's product evolution and innovation efforts (Jim FitzGibbon to
retire from Four Seasons, 2011).
The role implies that the Vice President for Food & Beverage as well as the
Vice President Rooms, Americas, will report directly to him, and he will
report directly to the CEO.

The second important strategy implementation is the Blue Water program.


Four Seasons has always wanted to find innovative ways to satisfy
customers and by developing Blue Water, it was able to test new ideas and
to share newly discovered best practices across locations.
The innovation consist in introducing into the organizational structure a
designated cross-functional Blue Water team for each property, which
meets regularly to dream up ideas for improving customer experience.
BLUEWATER sources and pilots ideas through

general managers, when

also soliciting fresh solutions from elsewhere within the company


(Overpaid CEOs out, motivated employees in, 2013). All Four Season
tested innovations and surveyed their consumers about their experiences
to report feedback. The program has been effectively incorporated into all
general meetings and staff training as they found out that Involving
employees in service innovation and design

increases the likelihood of

new service success. Employees are indeed able to

identify the

organizational issues that need to be addressed to support the delivery of


the service to customers. And when employees feel that management is
interested in their opinions, theyll be more likely take a personal stake in
the business.
Furthermore, Four Seasons has followed a targeted course of expansion,
opening new hotels and residences in major city centres and desirable
resort destinations around the world. The company has widened its
organizational structure, now it has 90 properties in 37 countries, and
more than 50 projects under development.
Macro structure
The macro-structure captures the stable pattern of interactions between
the individuals who compose an organization at high levels of aggregationas

in

an

organization

chart.

(Note

on

analyzing

organizational

macrostructures, 2009)
The organization chart shows that the company is structured on two main
layers, a top management one and the one made of several departments
that respond directly to the CEO.
The organizational structure is composed of major departments that are
located at a corporate level and other departments that belong to single

regions to which individual hotel locations refer. There are eleven


corporate departments in charge of establishing and implementing
guidelines for the whole chain as well as carrying out administrative
operations for the Four Seasons brand. Human Resources, Corporate
Marketing, , Development, Finance, Operations, Product and Operations,
Public Relations and operations are all centralized at the headquarter
level.
Centralization allows the company to be flexible and adaptable to
changing contingencies stemming from several different environments in
which it operates. The operation department is charge of controlling the
regional units which are further divided into three main functions which
are sales and marketing, engineering, administration and general. Each
regional unit is in turn responsible of handling single hotel locations.
The organizational chart thus displays that the coordination criterion
according to which departments are organized is function, activities are in
fact grouped into subunits according to a similarity principle.
A functional organizational criterion in a very complex structure, such as
the one of Four Seasons, allows each area to focus on specific tasks, in
turn, allowing employees to increase productivity. The goal of functional
structure is to put all the human and informational resources necessary for
a single activity in one place. By doing this, it maximizes performance by
facilitating

sharing

of

valuable

subordinates, efforts within one

expertise

by

superiors

with

their

specialized area is much easier than

coordinating the efforts across the organization when the hotel chain
operates in many different countries with different lines of business.
Communication flows in a vertical manner, from general managers of the
individual properties to regional vice president, to the president of the
hotel operations of the corresponding geographic area, up to the CEO.
Information is sometimes rigid because of the standardized ways of
operation and the high degree of formalization. This can make the
decision-making process slow and a little inflexible.
Micro structure

The micro structure refers to the interactions between employees within


departments and subunits, describing allocation of tasks among workers
and internal organization of single operating units.
On top of the hierarchy we find the chief executive officer which is
responsible for developing and implementing high-level strategies, making
major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources
of a company, and acting as the main point of communication between the
board of directors and the corporate operations. Differently from cases in
which the figure of the CEO coincides with the one of the chairman, here
the the two roles are separated in order to allow for a more objective
evaluation of performance and decisions. The Four Seasons chairman is
the one who founded the basis of the hotel chain culture and oversees the
board of directors, owing a 5% of the stake.
Corporate departments are organized to monitor the different subunits at
lower level.
The financial department handles the planning and reviewing of short- and
long-term financial strategies

to ensure the financial stability of the

company. As well, regular financial maintenance and in-depth reporting


and analysis are carried out to project future trends. The Finance group
oversees Corporate Finance and Treasury, Accounting, Operations Finance
and Tax Planning.
Capital Planning and Procurement is instead specialized in providing
procurement services to Four Seasons hotels and resorts. They provide
operational supplies to existing properties and support the hotel opening
and renovation process. This department is in direct contact with hotel
owners, interior design firms and global suppliers and works with

hotel

operating teams to protects brand standards while managing an efficient


supply chain.
The corporate marketing team is responsible for promoting the brand as
the premier luxury hotel and resort provider through marketing
communications, branding, public relations, web marketing, sales, direct
marketing and market research. The department collaborates with local
hotel and resort marketing teams to promote advertising, promotions and
public relations activities aimed at enhancing the hotel's positioning.

The marketing unit is further divided into two subunits: the worldwide
Sales Offices and the Worldwide reservation office.
The former is in charge of selling the complete portfolio of hotels and
resorts to new and existing customers and to support and sustain onproperty sale efforts while the latter provides round-the-clock reservations
services to business and leisure travelers around the world. It also
manages the global distribution systems for all hotels and resorts,
provides direction on pricing, merchandising and revenue management,
and processes reservations through toll-free voice services, e-mail, global
electronic systems including fourseasons.com and the airline systems. The
group also supports the worldwide Four Seasons gift card program, and
leads management for Four Seasons residences and guest recognition
efforts of our hotels and resorts.
The team of Worldwide reservations office design and construction is the
brainchild behind the design and construction of all new hotels, resorts
and Residence Clubs, as well as major renovations for existing properties.
They work with hotel owners to ensure compliance with defined Four
Seasons standards and review acquisition opportunities and engineering
standards for all properties.
The Development department works with potential and existing hotel
owners to create a pipeline of properties for portfolio growth. They focus
on projects at various stages of development, ensuring that Four Seasons
enters

into

profitable

long-term

management

agreements.

The HR team provide a wide range of support for employees worldwide in


the following areas: compensation and benefits, learning and career
development, recruitment support through college recruitment and
succession planning and HR programming for Corporate employees
worldwide.
The information
information

system and technology

technology

needs

for

our

department
hotels,

manages the

Corporate

Office,

remote/satellite offices, and Residence Clubs worldwide. They also oversee


the IT strategy for the organization, manage the operational side of
information

technology

and

create

new

applications.

The team of professional lawyers and advisors that belong to the legal unit

negotiates and prepares the necessary documentation for all major


property acquisitions, divestitures and restructuring initiatives. They also
assist with purchase and sale financing transactions relating to our
existing hotel agreements.
The Operations team instead establishes, implements and monitors
operating policies, procedures, systems and standards for all hotels and
resorts worldwide in the areas of guest experience, food and beverage and
rooms. They continually assess trends and competitive industry practices
and ensure effective communication with owner representatives.
Finally,The Residence Clubs team is the one that focuses on the feasibility,
execution, branding and selling of Four Seasons Residence Clubs and
Private Residences portfolio.
With regards to regional units, directors responsible for these sub-divisions
supervise overall operations for an assigned group of hotels. They are
indeed responsible for directing all employee functions of these hotel
properties in accordance with the policies and practices of the company.
Their responsibilities also include the development and implementation of
regional strategies for meeting goals in the areas of revenue generation,
market share performance, Guest satisfaction scores, associate opinion
scores, and net operating income.
Four Seasons management believed that the firms regional management
structure was a key component of its ability to deliver and maintain the
highest and most consistent service standards at each property in a cost-effective
manner. General managers report directly to one of the 13 regional vice presidents or directly
to one of the senior vice presidents for operations. A regional marketing director, an area of
director of finance, and a regional human resources director completed each support team.
Organizational culture, morale and communication are three major factors on the micro
business perspective. Leader's core role in the micro environment of subunits is developing a
strong, high-performing workplace. This includes creating a positive atmosphere where
employees understand their roles, managers communicate effectively with workers on goals
and task and work teams collaborate effectively in alignment with the strategic vision of the
business.
Although a very high degree of specialization characterizes the allocation
of tasks, workers are trained to conceive the firm as an integrated set of

activities and operations. Employees do not limit their work to the specific
tasks they are assigned, acting in the companys culture name, they are
always willing to go that extra mile to ensure customers satisfaction.
Performance indicators related to the structure
When approaching the analysis of performance of a company one should
not only consider financial data but also a whole set of indicators that are
able to reflect the organizational structure and design of the company
analyzed.
KPI are the most suitable indicators in this sense as they represent a set
of measures focusing on those aspects of organizational performance that
are most critical for current and future success of the organization
(Business benefits of KPI, 2012).
The most relevant categories of indicators relative to the specific
organizational structure of the company are:
Organizational profile:
Since organizational arrangements differ from one hotel to another,
organizational profile is an important indicator for the company as it allows
to understand whether task allocation is effective, if the company can
quickly adapt to fulfill changing customers needs. Being the fundamentals
of Four Seasons culture based on customers satisfaction, this indicator
would allow the company to determine whether it is achieving a top
performance in terms of organizational effectiveness or if responsibilities
and roles must be redistributed.
Innovation ability:
This indicator allows the company to verify whether its innovations on
customers service are creating value for the company or not. If this value
is lower than standards, Four Seasons should reconsider the innovations
introduced in order to both retain the customers loyalty and to ensure the
profitability of its business.
Investment in competence development:
Four Seasons is one of the leaders in the luxury hospitality industry so in
order to maintain its position it should always focus on renewing those

skills that are critical for its competitiveness. This

implies reflecting on

whether investments on competence development are in line with the


organizational goals as well as understanding if they represent a source of
competitive advantage.
Number of employees per manager:
Four Season should estimate the number of employees working in its chain
to evaluate the dimension of the workforce engaged in its organizational
structure as well as the number of employees per manager to understand
if supervision mechanisms are adequate.
References:

- HUCAMA,Organizational key performance indicators -a management tool


with bottom line effects, 2011

- www.fourseasons/corporatebios