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Two Tough Calls HR Practice Essay

1.A. How would you describe the HR practices and beliefs of the program manager, the narrator of this case? For the most part, I believe the narrator had a good outlook with her HR practices and beliefs. She understood the company did not always do the right thing, but she wanted to make sure she did the right thing to make her a better manager. The narrator had the ability to be honest with the people, which would help to make the department stronger. There is not need to lie to people to make them happy. If people need additional training or development, then they should be aware of what is expected and what they need to improve. It is better to be up front with the people, because people that are lied to believe they are doing better than they actually are. Effective leaders are able to lead people throughout the entire process. They set the expectations for the people, and should be there to correct them when going down the wrong path. 1.B. What are the strengths and limitations of her HR practices and beliefs? A definite strength for the narrator would be her ability to be brutally honest with people.

Not everyone has this ability, and it sometimes causes issues because people do not know what exactly is expected of them. I believe the narrator’s ability to be honest with the people will go a long way in improving the overall ability of the department. It will also help identify areas of improvement for every employee. Identifying areas that are in need of improvement will allow the narrator to seek training to aid the employee development. Focusing on areas of development will make the department stronger, and will allow the people to grow into new roles within the management structure. While the narrator did have a good outlook on handling people, there were instances within the article that I did not agree with the narrator.

The areas I disagreed with the narrator dealt with the reasoning behind possibly not giving some people a low grade. I do not believe a person’s potential issues, such as the case with Terry, should be a factor when considering how to grade performance. I also do not believe upper management’s opinions of Terry or Phil should sway the narrator’s decision on how to grade them. I do agree with the narrator that people should be graded on performance, and if they are not up to par they should be graded as they are not performing.

I also did not agree with the narrator possibly grading Phil higher due to his medical condition, or the fact that he has young children. In a management role, you have to grade employees based on performance. Giving false grades to appease others will eventually be a downfall for the narrator, because the department will not be improving. When it will come time to actually fire the people, there will be no documentation proving their performance was below average.

2. A. What HR “errors” did the firm make in hiring Terry? Discuss.

The most obvious error was the company leaders hired him even though he did not pass the panel interview. The fact that nobody in the room passed him proved that he was not capable to perform the job he would be asked to do. The leaders hired him mainly because he was their instructor, and maybe they had a great deal of respect for him. Another reason they hired him could be that they were all friends. Either way, the leaders of the company failed the company when hiring Terry. It is one thing to respect a person and be friends with a person, but another to put them into a position that they are not able to do. If they were adamant about hiring Terry, they should have found a role that he would have been able to handle. This would allow them to hire Terry into a position that he would add value to the company.

2. B. With Phil? Discuss.

I believe the mistake made when hiring Phil dealt with the fact the company had a policy to keep every employee after taking over another company. I believe the company should give every employee the opportunity to come onto the staff, but the people would have to go through the interview process. This would allow the panel to review every candidate to see if they would be a good fit within the organization. Adding this step would have shown the company they did not have a full-time position available for Phil. The company still could have used his expertise in the field, but it would have either been with a part-time position or a contract position. The company must ensure they are bringing people on that are able to perform the job required. It will not help the company to add people with little or no experience. This will actually hinder the performance of the groups.

3. A. Who’s to “blame” for the program manager’s work difficulties with Terry – top management, HR department, prior managers, or the program manager in this case? Discuss.

The blame for the program manager’s work difficulties with Terry are a direct result of the handling of Terry by the previous program manager. While some people would say the blame should lie on the upper management for hiring Terry, the previous manager was the one that constantly gave Terry above average grades on performance reviews. If the previous manager was giving Terry above average grades on performance reviews due to upper management, then I would say it is both the previous manager and upper management’s fault.

The previous manager had an obligation to ensure the performance grades were in line with the performance of the individual. If the manager did grade accordingly, and the upper management changed the grading, then it is the fault of upper management. This puts the narrator in a dilemma, because the upper management is not aware of any issues with Terry. This leads to the upper management believing it is something she is doing wrong. I also believe the previous manager was at fault by allowing Terry to only work on projects that had little meaning or impact to the company. This proved they were attempting to hide him, which would prevent Terry from having a large project that was not complete.

3. B. With Phil? Discuss.

I believe the HR department was at fault for the hiring of Phil. The company had a policy in place that would retain all employees of a company that was taken over. This is a poor policy, because it does not allow the company to determine if the employees fit the qualifications of the job. In the case of Phil, the company took an employee that did not have the qualifications, and they used him for other functions to justify his position. The job the company was having him perform could be performed by another person, since it was only a part-time position. 4. A. What should the program manager do about Terry? That is, suggest two major and different courses of action the program manager can take in regards to Terry.

A different option the program manager could take is to grade Terry with a 2.5, and put in his performance review that additional training and schooling is needed to increase the grade. I would also inform Terry that if this did not increase he would be added to the PIP list on the next review. This would inform Terry that his work is below average, but it puts a plan in place to bring him up to speed. The extra schooling would allow Terry to perform the job, and would keep from other people having to do his work. This would also allow Terry to be a factor within the team, instead of utilizing him to work on small projects with no meaning. The manager could explain to Terry that getting training is a necessity, and would be a key point of emphasis on his performance reviews in the future.

Another option the program manager could take is to talk with the upper management to see what courses Terry used to teach. If this would be something beneficial to the company, Terry could be used to teach others within the facility. This could ultimately be a winning situation for the company, because they could utilize the teaching to develop a learning center within the company. Terry obviously had an impact on the upper management, and there could be some merit in having him teach others.

4. B. Which course of action do you prefer? Why?

Make sure your suggestions follow federal laws and regulations. Consult your text if you are in doubt. Give as much implementing detail as you can. Also discuss any HR implications of each alternative.

I personally would grade Terry as a 2.5, but would take the time to explain why I graded him below average. Then I would sit down with Terry to discuss areas he needs to improve. The improvement areas would also include the necessary steps to getting the performance review back to acceptable. I would state what courses Terry would need to enroll in, and offer some guidance as to what he must do to ensure this does not happen in the next review. I would also add to the review that Terry would have to go back through a formal training session with a high-performing employee. Maybe some retraining will help make him a little more valuable to the company. This would also give him some more guidance with the overall job functions that he will be learning while taking the courses.

5. A. What should the program manager do about Phil? That is, suggest two major and different courses of action the program manager can take in regards to Phil.

The handling of Phil is different from that of Terry, which is mainly due to the medical issues. While one may not think these are involved, a person could sue the company for unwarranted termination if there is not a good reason for the firing. You also have to be careful that his grading did not decrease as a result of this incident. One suggestion I would make would be to add a job that dealt with the different parties. While it may not be a full-time job within your group, it could be a legitimate job within the corporation. If Phil is very effective communicating between parties for this group, could he provide benefit to the other groups in the company? Adding this person to every department would create a valuable job to the company, and would put a person that excels in the position.

Another option would be to grade Phil with a 2.5 and explain to him he must improve throughout the next six months, or he would be put on the PIP list. I would definitely take the time to show Phil his downfalls, and offer some options that will help him raise his grade. This will also help show Phil that his performance is below average, instead of putting him on the list after receiving good reviews. I would put together a list of items to complete the same as Terry, and would do everything possible to coach Phil up to speed. This may help motivate Phil enough to try harder, and look to get additional training to stay with the company.

5. B. Which course of action do you prefer? Why?

Make sure your suggestions follow federal laws and regulations. Consult your text if you are in doubt. Give as much implementing detail as you can. Also discuss any HR implications of each alternative.

Similar to the situation with Terry, I would grade Phil with a 2.5. Then I would explain the reason for the below average grading, but would offer any help necessary to see that these grades come up in the next review. This could include additional training, and even returning to school to learn more of the technical side. I would then inform Phil that if he cannot improve his performance by the next review, that he will be placed on the PIP list. While both of these guys could have easily been placed on the list the first time around, the mishandling of previous managers made it difficult to explain. I also like this alternative, because it gives both Terry and Phil a chance to improve. The improvement can come through additional training and coursework, but it is ultimately up to them how much they want their jobs. I believe this is the fair way to handle the situation, because they were lead to believe they were performing the job at the average level. This will also cover any issues you might face legally, because you are giving them the chance to improve.

References
Badaracco, Jr., J. L. (2006, July 10). Two Tough Calls (A). Harvard Business School Press, 9-306-027.


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