Archive for the ‘Chapter 6’ Category

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Managing Human Resources: Letting someone go

October 7, 2012

This week, we take a look at the future of ‘the workplace’ and what that means for managing people.

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of human resource management on pages 154-183 in Chapter 5, then compare the following clips from the movie “Up in the Air”. One scene shows someone being let go in a thoughtful way, and the other is a far less considerate approach via video chat.

So, to summarise…

…letting someone go. As a manager, you may need to do that. You may have to decide who to let go, or you may just have to act on someone else’s decision and take away someone’s job because that was what you are asked to do. You may find it easy, particularly if you wanted the employee gone, but chances are that it will not be. Rejecting someone tends to be hard.

Downsizing is not uncommon in large companies or during difficult economic times – like our times. There are different ways to downsize, and they are listed in Table 6.2 on p. 160. As the textbook points out, any of these methods is likely to cause suffering to the employee; however, the way you deliver the news may also make a difference.

If you have not watched the movie “Up in the air”, this may be a good opportunity. The movie tells the story of a “professional firing agent”, who travels throughout the US to let people go. His life is well organised around this job, but things get a bit shaken when a new team member introduces a method of letting people go using video chat. The story holds a message that has not much to do with management studies, but it contains interesting scenes of how people can be let go.

Here are two scenes of letting go for you to watch. One is a scene where the agent lets someone go in a thoughtful way, and the other is done over a video chat with far less consideration. Put yourself in the firing-agent’s shoes. What would you have done in that situation?

Letting employees go affects not only the leaving employee. The remaining employees, as well as public opinion, are affected as well. People talk to one another, and word gets out. For example, Hastie’s SMS made the news, even though they did not actually lay people off. In your textbook, p. 173 identifies some of the issues around letting people go.

You may never find yourself in the position of having to let someone go. But if you do, whether you like it or not, you will probably play a very significant role in the employee’s life. This is why it is important to start contemplating the best way to play that role right now, so early in your career.

And at the very least, you have been introduced to a pretty good movie.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • The effects of downsizing and layoffs
  • Workforce diversity

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How does letting go affect the company? Who are the likely affected parties?
  2. What could be the damage to a company when people are not let go gently? If you need some inspiration, there are a few ideas here. But keep in mind, many more options are possible.
  3. What are the risks and disadvantages of letting people go gently? Why don’t all companies do it?
  4. People from different cultures have different expectations. How would diversity in the workforce affect letting go strategies and techniques?
  5. If it had to be done, which way would you like to be let go? Which way do you think you would let people go?
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Managing Human Resources

April 1, 2012

This week, we take a look at the future of ‘the workplace’ and what that means for managing people.

To start with…

…refresh your knowledge of human resource management on pages 154-183 in Chapter 5, then have a look at this article from The Economist.

So, to summarise…

…the columnist provides a prediction of office-life in 2012.  The forecast is rather gloomy, if you like to ENJOY your work life: people will be expected to be serious, work in the office, arrive at predictable hours, and work more than before.  No more flexible off-site work, not as much travel on the company dime, and you will no longer be able to use technology (such as video conferencing) to substitute face-to-face meetings.

The author thinks this will be the driven by high company risk aversion.  Companies would want to keep a closer look on how their money is being spent, and also to increase the strength of company culture.  The silver lining of this article is the return of the office “grapevine”: gossip will be back, big-time.

This is in direct contrast to the recently posed list of the 100 best workplaces. Google leads the charge of the ‘best’ employers, with perks and attributes in direct contrast to these predictions: ample flexibility, plenty of diversion and play, and other flexible features.  Another thing to keep in mind when reading this column is the nationality of the author.  Australians are, in general, far less formal than their counterparts in the USA.

Some issues to notice and pay particular attention to here are…

  • Recruitment standards
  • Retention and appraisal strategies
  • Downsizing and layoffs
  • Workforce diversity

Consider the following questions for discussion…

  1. How much do you agree with the columnist?  Do you share her view on the future of office work?
  2. If the columnist is correct, how would these new expectations affect standards expected of employees during recruitment processes?
  3. If the columnist is correct, what will be the effect on retention and appraisal strategies commonly employed by organisations?
  4. Would downsizing and lay-offs be a means of controlling and enforcing this “new office culture”?  What are the risks with this strategy?
  5. How would these changes accommodate for workforce diversity?  Various ethnic cultures tend to adopt various standards of seriousness.  How could a company justify certain expectations, if they do not accept people from various cultures?
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