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The architecture and engineering firms latest defector refuses to tell the head of human resources, Mary Donillo, why he was unhappy. And the self-administered employee…
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Cases Why Are We Losing All Our Good People? (Commentary for HBR Case Study) Edward E. Lawler III, Jim Cornelius, F. Leigh Branham, Anna Pringle, Jean Martin
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For teaching purposes, this is the commentary-only version of the HBR case study. The case-only version is Reprint R0806X. The complete case study and commentary is Reprint R0806A.
Is it a sign or just a coincidence that several talented employees have recently left Sambian Partners? The architecture and engineering firms latest defector refuses to tell the head of human resources, Mary Donillo, why he was unhappy. And the self-administered employee surveys dont reveal much. When CEO Helen Gasbarian gets word of the next possible flight risk, she promotes the employee on the spot. How can Sambian stop the talent drain? Four experts comment on this fictional case study in R0806A and R0806Z. Anna Pringle, the head of international people and organization capability for Microsoft, thinks that Helen should take a hard look at Mary, who is not safeguarding the firms talent. Helen must also become an attentive listener. F. Leigh Branham, the CEO of human resources consultancy Keeping the People, thinks that Sambians employees need a forum in which they can speak openly about their discontent. The candid discussions can expose the "triggering events" that impel people to leave, such as a disconnect between the firms long-standing focus on innovative design and a more recent concern with profitability. Jim Cornelius, the chairman and CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb, once faced a potential employee exodus as interim CEO of the pharmaceutical company. He advises Helen to meet face-to-face with her most talented employees and assure them that she understands their concerns and desires. Jean Martin, the executive director of the Corporate Executive Boards leadership council, urges Helen to support a mission and culture to which employees will feel connected. She explains that although people join companies for rational motives, they stay for emotional ones. By the time unhappy workers tell their managers whats going on, its often too late.
learning objective:
In this case study, an architectural firm has begun losing valued talent. But departing employees arent giving specific reasons for their defection. The company must determine how to stop the exodus. Readers will explore questions such as how the CEO can play a stronger role in retaining top talent, how to create a safe environment for employees to express complaints, and how to make leaders throughout the organization more accountable for attracting and retaining talent.
subjects covered:
Employee retention
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Case Summary: Retaining Star Performers in Trying Times
Problem:
There are trying times when businesses face enormous challenges in their normal operations. These challenges could be caused by circumstances like impacts of global warming, global economic depression and so on. Such catastrophes do have far reaching negative effects on the usual operation of the business. In our case and for the sake of this paper we shall look at the effects of unemployment rate and low economy vise a vie the retention of the firm’s top performers. Many managers hold misguided assumption that in hard times of economic depression they will hold definitely their stars. The main focus of most managers at such times is on profit making, thereby neglecting their employees. Such are trends that hold in bad faith to employees especially those with sterling performance. Still in such times the star employee can be retained and by extension motivated at a very low cost hence improving the business’ productivity. Research has been done before and it has found that employees can move from a firm in harsh economic time, but it possible to retain them at very low or no cost at all. According to Conger (167), “The largest predictor of whether someone will stay with a company is their satisfaction with their immediate boss”. During tough times employees usually need guidance as well as inspiration from the boss which should not be monetary anyway.
Methodology:
When doing a research various systematic steps are involved. They include data collection, sampling, survey, data analysis and interpretation as well as compilation.
Sampling:
There were a few selected companies that were to be surveyed. These companies were those with large labor force and had felt the impact of global economic depression to the extreme level of down laying their workforce.
Data Collection procedures:
Data were collected through surveys that were conducted through filling of questionnaires. Participants in the project, mostly selected firms completed questionnaires anonymously. Non participants returned the materials given to them. Respondents have appointments in various departments, including human resource, accounting, as well as sale and marketing.
The criterion for the study included senior managers as respondents who were members from both public and private firms.
The survey
The survey involved respondents being asked questions regarding whether they would resign in the light of economic recession. Under what circumstance they would resign even when it is obvious the firm is not doing well due to various factors. Respondents were also given space in the questionnaires to give their opinions on issues the questionnaires did not cover.
Results:
There were a good number of respondents to the study. The research did get good response. For example there was wide convergent opinion among the respondents in nearly all companies there is praise deficit for good work done. Provision of a challenging project or assignment to those top performers. The additional assignment necessarily do not require employee to earn an increment, but a platform for additional expertise. Most respondents also agreed that employees are not permitted to pursue personal development opportunities by most managers. Also discovered was the common view that most companies tend to become restrictive in tough times. The do not provide perks that are not money related such as flexibility, autonomy or life/work balance. Notable comments made by the respondents indicated that most firms lack some kind of culture or tradition associated with it. Building a strong culture or tradition is important component to retain star workers.
Conclusion:
The outcome of the survey when critically evaluated against the matter at hand, it was found that the research did meet it intended object. The findings were reliable and could be applied to improve leadership and management of companies.
Works Cited
Conger, J. A. The Practice of Leadership: Developing the next Generation. USA. E-Book. 2007. Read More
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