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Review of an Article About Arnold Donald

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The article I read was called “Carnival’s CEO on Steering a Turnaround: Listen to Your Employees” from the wall street journal written by Vanessa Fuhrmans. The article shows how a person with little experience in the cruise industry was able to turn the company around and almost double their market value and double their profit within 4 years of joining. He was able to do that using the years of experience working his way up Monsanto. I took the appreciative lens approach to identify the key things that the CEO Arnold Donald did to accomplish this tough task. It wouldn’t have been possible without improving communication within the company, using group decision making and increasing group diversity.

The article talked about the current CEO Arnold Donald that joined Carnival Corp in 2013 after 2 major incidents. The first incident was when one of their cruise ship capsized which killed 32 passengers and the other incident was when there was an engine room fire which lead to passengers living with overflowing toilets and no air conditioning for days. Since then Arnold Donald has turned the company around by listening to his employees, increasing diversity and increasing group discussion to come up with a solution. He has nearly doubled Carnival Corp’s market value and doubled their net profit since he became CEO. No one expected him to be able to do this since he built his career at agrochemical giant Monsanto Co. Arnold Donald is also very vocal about have greater diversity in corporate America and believes that the best way of doing so is starting from the top.

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The first thing Arnold Donald did when he first joined Carnival Corp as CEO was to encourage communication and teach others to listen. Before tackling all issues that he was faced with he spent his first month listening to his employees. He believed that by listening to employee that do all the work, they’ll tell him how to execute. He showcases how upward communication is beneficial for an organization. By listening to the employee, he was able to learn about the company, get feedback on the current situation and learn about the struggles (Robbins, Judge, & Breward, 2016). Upward communication was also able to relay important feedback from customer to see how the company improve on their services. One of the improvement that was made introduction of technology enabling the crew to deliver to guest highly personalized service. The guest would wear a disc, or a bracelet and the crew would be able to know your name and provide them with a personalized experience. Without upward communication Arnold Donald would have never gotten feedback from lower level employees and learned about the customers feedback too. When an organization value upward communication it will restore the employees’ perception of equity and show that they are willing to improve processes and enhance human relationship (Kumar & Mishra, 2016). Arnold Donald also sat down with the top leaders of the company when he first joined to learn about each individual and asked them to share their thoughts with each other and established listening in the organization. After the meeting, he asked all the leader to pull together all their direct report around the world and have them do this. In a way he has implemented a network using wheel and all channel groups to eventually propagate all the information back to him (Robbins, Judge, & Breward, 2016).

When Arnold Donald created these small group within the organization to have face to face meeting, he was emphasizing the use of group decision making. When he sat down with all the top leaders, he would ask them what success looks like for them and their department and asked them to share their answer and listen to others when they share their answer. This allowed everyone to share their thoughts and opinion and set the grounds up for how the company will now be running. Showing the leaders how things will now be running will allow this idea to propagate down to the lowest level and encourage everyone to share their ideas. This is one of the strength of group decision making since groups generate more complete information, knowledge and diverse view of the situation (Robbins, Judge, & Breward, 2016). When a leader is introducing these positive changes and living by them it will showcase the leader’s authenticity and increase employee trust since there is consistency between their words and actions (Wang & Hsieh, 2013). Arnold Donald also strongly believes that if you want to make changes you should start from the top and take risk. By having these group decisions making meeting it will instill trust in the employee since they will believe that what they say will have an impact on the final decision. Trust in top management lead to increase organizational performance and effectiveness and having open communication will build trust within the organization (Eng, 2010).

Arnold Donald is vocal about having greater diversity in corporate America and he believes that having very different people who are aligned around a common objective will always out perform a non-diverse group almost every time. His thought is also similar to what the textbook had in mind, When a diverse group get over their initial conflicts, they usually perform better over time (Robbins, Judge, & Breward, 2016). He explains that it is hard to get other businesses to have a more diverse workforce, but it is difficult since it isn’t imperative for the business. He encourages people that own a business to make diversity an integral part and it can create value for shareholder. Since he is the CEO of a large corporation, he is trying to make diversity changes within the company and start from the top.

Companies with racially diverse management are more likely to develop and introduce new competitive strategies that lead to growth in market share and profits (Andrevski, Richard, Shaw, & Ferrier, 2011). This may be one of the reason that the company has nearly doubled their market value and doubling their net profit since Arnold Donald comes from a different racial background than the previous CEO and has different work experience. Diverse groups would also help with group decision making by proving a different perspective. It is also very difficult to avoid group diversity since Carnival Corps is a large company that operate cruise ship around the world, so their employee will be diverse to a certain degree. In a cruise ship employee would be dealing with customer that have a diverse background, by having a diverse set of employees they would be able to full relate with the customers (Scoică, 2014).

Arnold Donald should continue to have open communication with all his employee and instill trust in them. Although he may not be spending as much time as he did with the employee when he first became CEO, he can still remind all the employee that things haven’t changed and encourage them to speak up. The importance of CEOs being approachable and physically present throughout the organization is a key factor of facilitating employee voice (Adelman, 2012). Many times, people will want to bring something up but feel uncomfortable speaking up to upper management fearing the negative outcomes of their feedback. Employees end up constructing narrative in which upper management have no interest in their upward communication (Tourish & Robson, 2006). There may be some truth to this but most of the time management would like to hear feedback, so they can improve on process and the employee may just be overthinking. Arnold Donald can also encourage management to check in with employee on a regular basis and survey employees satisfaction every half a year to create better bonds between workers and boost morale.

There are weaknesses to group decision making since it is time consuming and conversation can be dominated by one or a few members (Robbins, Judge, & Breward, 2016). Each group can implement a system where there is a mediator that keep the conversation going and give everyone a chance to give their feedback and ensure that everyone is listening. Listening is often underappreciated and easily overlooked. When an environment supports listening to employees, the employee will end up value listening to the customer which increase customer satisfaction (Reed, Goolsby, & Johnston, 2016). Arnold Donald should encourage management to use motivating language since it will encourage employee to speak their mind. Motivating language enhances quality and quantity of employee decision making (Mayfield & Mayfield, 2016). He should also find ways to induce positive affect at the beginning of group meetings since it will improve decision making and increase information exchange. Putting employee in a good mood will improve group performance (Emich, 2014). With the trust that is created between employee and management, the company can also incorporate participative management. This strategy would allow employee to voice their opinion to their manager which then can be brought up to the CEO. The information would be more consolidated and reduce the amount of meetings the CEO would have to attend. Employing participative management lead to better commitment from employee and reduce resistance to change and also bring light to areas or subject that should be kept in mind (Pardo‐Del‐Val, Martínez‐Fuentes, & Roig‐Dobón, 2012).

Beyond increasing racial diversity in the workplace, Arnold Donald should also strive to increase the diversity in other manner such as background, knowledge, education, etc. Increasing diversity of educational background and knowledge increase openness which would increase innovations (Bogers, Foss, & Lyngsie, 2018). With the increase of diversity, there should be diversity training that each employee should do when they first start and have additional session throughout their career to remind them. This will ensure that all employees will be able to work with each other no matter what their background is and train them to deal with customer with diverse background too. Arnold Donald can also set out company values and principles that every employee can follow and share. He can also set out rules to ensure that when he retires all the things he created would still stand strong.

The analysis showed the amazing things Arnold Donald has done since he became CEO and it wouldn’t have been possible without him making major changes within the company such as improving the communication, introduce a new method for decision making and increasing diversity. The things he was able to do in such a short time is an amazing feat. Although he doesn’t own the company, he can still make big changes as the CEO and build a path for other to continue to build the business after he retires. Arnold Donald is doing well running the company so there isn’t as many things that can be improved on other than continuing doing what is working. I do have a few recommendations such as encouraging employee to speak up and encourage management to listen to their subordinate since they know their job the best. Implementing a participative management style to gather all the ideas from the lower levels and bring it up to help make decisions and introduce diversity training since employees will work with other that have diverse background.


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