Let’s consider the company of ABCs & 123s, Inc., a manufacturer learning toys for elementary schools. Angel and Bob work for Ms. Missy in the human resource IT department. Angel and Bob have worked in the department for 15 years each and were part of the company’s original HRIS department. Angel was the supervisor and Bob her one employee until last year. Last year, as part of a revamping of HR, the department was placed under Group Vice President of HR Services, Martin Shorter, and Angel was demoted to HR specialist, from manager. This demotion was a result of a new company requirement that all HR employees at manager level and higher must have either a PHR, SPHR, or GPHR designation (or California equivalent). Angel did not have this designation, and refused to sit for the exam, and thus, Ms. Missy was hired as the new manager of the team. Martin Shorter has all HR departments under him; Ms. Missy’s team is his smallest team of employees.
Ms. Missy’s team is in charge of just one thing: an in-house created benchmarking, metrics, scorecard, and performance and talent management IT product called “HR By The Numbers” (or HRBTN as it’s known in HR circles). All other HRIS is handled by outside vendors, including but not limited to benefits, disability issues, and payroll. Along with being used by ABCs & 123s, Inc., HRBTN is vendor-serviced out to other organizations, and it has won two awards for innovation in the last few years. This product has actually turned the entire HR Department from an expense side of the company, into a significant income producing portion of the company (which justified the creation of the group vice president position.) Martin believes that HRBTN is whyABCs & 123s, Inc. is doing so well in the industry—because they are able to quickly and efficiently pinpoint the highest producing employees, products, as well as the problem areas, which allows the company to quickly ramp up or lower support for each area. Productivity of the company has increased 85% since the invention of HRBTN.
Angel and Bob invented HRBTN together and are responsible for debugging and updates to clients and to the company. Both have significant IT certifications, are degreed computer programmers, and highly efficient workers. Neither have HR backgrounds, except that today, they are both considered as HR metrics seminal engineering experts, as their product can be tailored to each company’s benchmarking needs in a highly unique and patented way (the company owns the patent). Martin Shorter is old-school HR and received his SPHR designation in 1982, before education or experience requirements were standard process. He is a very hands-off department leader, with a golf handicap of two. Until now, this has worked well for Martin.
Ms. Missy recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business, with an HRM concentration. She has worked in the HR field for five years and took and passed the PHR exam three months before being hired to manage this team. She has no computer programming experience, but she did own her own consulting firm for two years, and utilized QuickBooks to run her business, so she feels she has enough computer software experience to understand the ramifications of her department employees’ needs. When Martin hired her, he said, “Look, this department runs itself. Just let it do so, and keep things flowing smoothly.”
Since Angel’s demotion, problems have arisen. The updates to the vendor serviced accounts have been requiring two-to-three attempts to push and download on their customers’ side. Further, bugs in the updates have caused two of their customers’ systems to require extensive network analysis and repairs. Last year, Bob decided to allow the bugs in their customers’ systems to create metrics for solutions, and he decided (once Angel was no longer his supervisor) to start using the learning from those problems to impact when and how he did updates to ABCs & 123s, Inc. in-house systems. In the past, the company handled updates and changes in the opposite way—testing them in their own company first, cleaning up bugs, and then pushing them out to the customers.
Angel would never have approved the change in process, but because Ms. Missy was new, and didn’t understand the ramifications or technical jargon Bob used when explaining this, she approved the change. Angel immediately realized what was going to happen but, still stinging from her demotion, Angel said nothing.
In the past few weeks, the customer complaints from HRBTN have created havoc in the company. Because this product is an outlier to the core business, there are no systems in place to handle such complaints (which is the main reason Angel had used the company as the update guinea pig, instead of the clients.) Ms. Missy is trying to handle the complaints on her own, as they are being pushed to her from Martin. Because Ms. Missy took over sales from Angel when she was hired, and her time is being spent dealing with complaints, sales of HRBTN are down for the first time since it was invented. Martin is at a loss because in the past, the company handled bugs before the customers got the updates (he doesn’t know of the process change.)
Bob explains (deceptively) to Ms. Missy that the problem stems from companies who have upgraded to Windows 8. Angel sits on the sidelines silently, knowing that has nothing to do with the problem. Ms. Missy tells Martin the problem is Windows 8, not her team, and Martin (who had to give up this week’s golf game as a result of this issue) sets up a meeting with the customers to discuss them moving back to Windows 7 until this can be resolved. At the meeting, he finds out that none of the customers with the problem are using Windows 8, and Ms. Missy can’t assist as she sits dumbfounded and silent. After the meeting, Ms. Missy meets with Martin and says, “I am starting to think Angel is sabotaging the work in this department. All she does is sit around, code, and cry. I have had it with her. I need you to talk to her. I think Bob is helping her because they are mad I am the new supervisor.”
Before doing anything, Martin pulls out the performance appraisals on Angel and Bob, which just occurred two months ago. Bob’s performance metrics for this year were based on the company’s slowdowns from bugs, not customers’ complaints, so within the first year of Ms. Missy’s arrival, Bob’s performance numbers skyrocketed. Angel’s new performance metrics were simply based on her coding speed, so her last performance review was “exceeds expectations” although due to her demotion, she did not get a raise (but she also didn’t get a pay cut.) Ms. Missy also earned “exceeds” because of the income level of the department as well as a sign-on bonus of $2,500 when she joined the company, and 5% raise after her first year.
Martin calls Angel into his office privately, and she spills the beans on the entire problem while crying. She then quits and says, “I used to wake up andrun to work every day. Since my demotion, I can’t stop crying. I can’t work here anymore,” and she runs out of the room, gets her things from her desk, and leaves.
Think about what you have learned this term about needs assessment, gap analysis, person analysis, training and development, mentoring, coaching, PIPS, and the IDP processes. Write a very short analysis of some short- and long-term root causes of this problem. Feel free to use a SWOT to assist you in this task. Pick only one or two focus points for your first post, and then as a class, we will work through some learning concepts from this scenario. In the event you feel that anyone in this scenario would be benefited by training or a PIP, you can use that as a second post and create that plan. Finally, we will talk about solutions together during the week.
Who wants to start?