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Right Management Consultants Succeeds by Managing Change

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Question 1: What are the challenges faced by Right when the downsizing effort no longer is a popular human resource strategy?

One of the main challenges that the Right company will have to face when downsizing effort is no longer a popular human resource strategy is quite simply finding a new strategy that will work. In finding a new strategy one must take the strategic approach to HRM. In the strategic approach to HRM there are six key elements that are essential for HR managers to consider:

– recognize the impact of the outside environment

– recognize the impact of competition and the dynamics of the labor market

– has a long range focus

– focuses on the issue of choice and decision making

– considers all personnel

– is integrated with overall corporate strategy and functional strategies

Taking these elements into consideration when formulating a new company strategy takes a lot of work and a lot of time, which will be a challenge.

Another challenge to consider when downsizing is no longer an option is bringing talent and innovation to the company. Human Resources’ main goal may have been to get employees to as low a number as possible, but bringing in talented and innovative workers can really bring a company’s freefall to a halt. Apple is an excellent example as to the good things that can come out of focusing on hiring talented individuals rather than simply dumping employees. Apple was struggling to keep afloat in mid-1980’s and consequently began to downsize. After a while Apple decided to bring some talent onto their team, and the decision brought new inventions to the table, which ultimately became extremely favorable for the company. “It wasn’t until Apple hired creative and innovative people who introduced the new Mac Notebooks, the iPod, and the iPhone that Apple was able to finally resurrect itself” (Human Resource Management pg 10)

Question 2: What conflicts do you see between a company of this type and a firm’s human resources department?

The main conflicts that would be present between the Right company and a firm’s human resource department are the of lack of teamwork and communication. The Right company is present to aid the company’s human resource division, but in actuality the consultants are there to accomplish what the HR division could not on their own. Naturally, a firm’s human resource department would be threatened by the intruding Right company and may also feel some job insecurity. In such a circumstance there would be a division between parties—each party working on their own projects—and this would cause the company to improve business a lot slower than desired. Getting both parties to co-operate is the best case scenario and would be the most productive in terms of the companies success.

Question 3: What do you recommend Right do at this time to prepare for the future?

I believe that the thing Right must do at this time to prepare for the future is the same thing every company must constantly do to prepare for their future. The way a business becomes accomplished is through successful planning and strategy and these elements are the things that must constantly be evaluated and altered to assure its compatibility with current times. “External and internal forces are constantly changing the rules of the game, and the organization must amend or adopt new strategies to remain competitive” (Human Resource Management pg. 4). I think whether a company is accomplishing its goals or not is an excellent way to determine the necessity of change or strategy, but it is monumentally important to be ready for change regardless of success. I think Right must evaluate current times and predict future conditions in order to strategize and be prepared for anything.

Another thing Right can do is provide training for their staff. On page 10 of the Human Resource Management textbook it states five roles that HR professionals must master: cultural steward, talent manager, strategy architect, business ally, and operational executor. If Right could improve the qualities mentioned in the previous sentence on their HR crew they will be much better prepared with the tools necessary to combat a changing world.

Case: Polaroid—A Hard Landing

Question 1: What had been Polaroid’s overall growth strategy? How did this affect its HR planning and strategy?

Polaroid’s overall growth strategy was to be the number one and only instant photography company through the invention of it’s own technology in its own laboratories. “Growth objectives are a key part of an organization’s overall strategic plan. Almost all strategic plans deal with the size the company wishes to be in the future” (Human Resource Management pg. 110). One of the ways in which Polaroid planned to be the only instant photography company—in turn would also make it the greatest—was through 533 patents. “Polaroid is still characterized by many as a company that hold too tight a grip on its patents” (Human Resource Management pg. 130). Polaroid’s strategic plan was always to stick with their one invention, improve on it’s technology, and target the sole market. This affected HR planning and strategy because Edwin H. Land did not want to enter other markets; Land wanted Polaroid to be about instant photography. The decision to stay in only one market affected HR from doing what they are suppose to do. It prevented them from being creative or innovative.

Question 2: Whose fault is it when employment declines, as it did at Polaroid? What responsibility, if any, do operational employees have?

When employment declines it is completely the companies—specifically HR’s—fault. The fifth step in the HR planning model is to estimate shortage or surplus on individual occupations or job categories. It is extremely important for Human Resource to stay ahead of the game and predict future moves. If HR would have done their job and seen the future they could have reacted accordingly and prevented downsizing so steeply. For example, in chapter one we learned about Capital vs. Labor and how planning ahead could cause some companies to buy machines, which would take over some human jobs, hence cut costs and avoid having to downsize so rapidly. Polaroid lacked a solid HR plan and I believe this has nothing to do with operational employees because it is not their job to do so. They can be made aware of the downward direction the company is undergoing, but it is near impossible for employees to do anything since they are simply told what to do by management.

Question 3: Why would employees work virtually around the clock as they did in the early days of Polaroid?

In the early days of Polaroid, workers worked around the clock for days because of how excited they were. “Many Polaroid employees worked 6 days a week and loved every minute of it” (Human Resource Management pg. 129). The only way employees would work around the clock now as they did in the early days of Polaroid would be if they had the same passion and love for what they do. As stated in page 109 in the textbook, there is usually job opportunities for people to land, but do not have the required skills to be hired. If employers would put effort into connecting with the people who do have the required skills and who have been to school for many years studying a certain subject, they are going to be much more enthusiastic about their work if hired. I think it is all about HR hiring the right people with the right characteristics and right education.

Question 4: What type of HR plan would you develop for Polaroid today?

I would develop a growth plan for Polaroid that puts most of the focus on hiring educated, innovative, talented, created, and determined employees. I would also try to make the company as machined as possible. For example, replace as many people with machines as possible. Instead of having 5 Strategyworkers do one task I would have one machine do the task while one operator supervises it. I would make sure my HR department is constantly studying and anticipating the outside world for markets that the company could enter in order to make the company bigger and stronger—or even markets that the company can create for the world. If not then we would be committing the same problem Polaroid got themselves into when they were stubborn to remain the in instant photography market. I would also add incentives to the workers for doing well in what they do—like raises and other cash prizes. All these things would be just a sample of changes to make a better company.

Question 5: What other companies do you know of that failed to mature to other growth stages with new products after the initial product played out? What causes this to happen?

Gatorade is an excellent example; Their initial product played out and they found themselves in a situation where they needed to make a decision. Gatorade needed to find a way to maintain their popularity by entering another market or improving their current product somehow. Gatorade took both routes; they entered another market with their powdered drink, and they also improved their beverage by coming out with the G-series. Currently, Gatorades products are losing their popularity once again and have not come out with anything that can significantly affect their growth. If they continue on this path they can end up just like Polaroid.

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