Talent Management Assessment 1
Case Study: Performance Management at Brick Co.
Item of Assessment Case Study
Word Limit 2,000 words
Acceptable Formats for Submission Microsoft Word
Learning Outcomes for the item of assessment
This item of assessment covers the following learning outcomes. For the full list of learning outcomes for the module, please refer to the Module Study Guide.
• Understand and evaluate the main drivers, enablers, and barriers which are encountered in the development and implementation of successful talent management in organisations.
• Identify and evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of performance objectives at team and individual level.
• Evaluate talent management policies and practices for differing contexts or industries. (C5)
Your work will be marked in grades rather than percentages. This is considered to deliver the most accurate and fair outcomes for students. Each assignment that you undertake will be assessed using the common grading system. Information about the grading system can be found in your Student Handbook.
Assessment 1 Details
Case Study: Performance Management at Brick Co.
Brick Co. is a manufacturing company that is run by an owner-manager. The firm has been established for 20 years. Brick Co. currently employs 130 people: full-time, permanent, unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Many of the current employees have long periods of service. Performance is currently mixed. Up until the past few years, the business was highly profitable. Employees were paid well and received generous conditions of employment, including generous leave allowances, flexible work practices and opportunities for further training and development.
In recent years, however, in the face of increased competition and difficult trading conditions, the firm’s financial performance had changed considerably with minimal profit being recorded. Due to the weak financial position, the owner-manager imposed a pay freeze for the last two years, and the previous generous conditions had been withdrawn. Consequently, the overall terms and conditions of the employees are now considered poor. For example, employees no longer receive additional leave entitlements, nor is there any investment in training and employee development. Employees have expressed their discontent with the pay freeze and the withdrawal of the generous conditions and believe that the firm is now a poor employer.
The firm is divided into two main sections: the sales team (‘Sales’), which comprises around eight employees, and the manufacturing operation (the ‘Works’), which comprises the remainder of the employees; other than for a small number of employees who work in administrative or quality assurance roles. Historically, the owner-manager managed the whole firm, but about a year ago he appointed a Divisional Director who is now responsible for managing the Works. The owner-manager made this appointment to give himself more time to manage the business as a whole and to create a position with responsibility for improving performance in the Works.
Over the past few years, the owner-manager has developed a very autocratic approach and has adopted a command-and-control style of management, viewing employees as a cost to the business, and investing little in them. The Divisional Director, however, has a more participative style of management and understands the need to view employees as assets – the firm’s human capital through whom the firm can develop and maintain a competitive advantage. Recent events and the owner-managers autocratic style have meant that the Divisional Director was faced with managing a group of employees who lacked commitment to the firm and were focused purely on working their shift, earning their pay whilst making the minimum possible contribution to the firm.
The Divisional Director has undertaken several initiatives in order to improve both individual and firm performance. First, the Divisional Director organised the employees into four teams, each with a team leader and comprising several roles – for example, forklift truck operator. These teams report to the Works Manager, who reports to the Divisional Director. To overcome the dissatisfaction created by the pay freeze, the Divisional Director introduced a scheme by which team performance against production targets are linked to the payment of a bonus to team members. The team leaders are nominally responsible for coordinating team efforts, although the role of the team leader is a new one that has not been formally defined; the employees appointed to such roles have been given no training. Indeed, little training other than on health-and-safety issues takes place at any level in the Works. While the Divisional Director believes teamworking is an appropriate way to enhance performance, the employees are uncertain as to how it should operate, and there is some resentment that the appointed team leaders were selected for the role entirely at management’s discretion. Team leader roles were not advertised to allow employees to nominate themselves for consideration.
Second, the Divisional Director implemented systems to formally manage individual and team performance, setting production targets to communicate requirements to employees. These targets are devised by the Divisional Director, based on the firm’s overall requirements, and are posted on the notice board at the beginning of each week, together with a report indicating how teams have performed against the previous week’s targets. Where teams have achieved targets, a bonus payment is triggered. Production data is available at both team and individual level, and the Works Manager discusses poor performance with individuals where appropriate. It is not unusual for those employees who regularly fail to meet their targets to be disciplined. Many workers support this action because they are of the opinion that those who under-perform are likely to impact negatively on the earning of a team bonus.
Finally, the Divisional Director established a Staff Forum to be held on the first Friday afternoon of every month. In this forum, employees can raise issues of concern and offer suggestions on how working arrangements can be improved. This initiative was designed to overcome recent poor communication due to the owner-managers autocratic management style and his belief that the workers were lazy and uninterested. The Divisional Director wished to give the employees a mechanism by which they can contribute to and influence the operation of the firm.
A year after implementing the changes, the Divisional Director carried out a review of performance and was disappointed to discover that neither productivity nor quality had improved in the Works. In discussions with the Works Manager, the Divisional Director concluded that the attitude of the employees had changed little, even though most employees were earning bonuses in 7 out of the 12 months. When the employees were asked for feedback on the bonus scheme, one commented that it hadn’t ‘changed his life’, indicating that the payments made had not been sufficiently substantial to impact on his standard of living. Similarly, employee commitment appeared still to be lower. Although employees had initially made use of the Staff Forum in the first few months to air their dissatisfaction and offer suggestions, attendance soon waned, and after six months it was disbanded. The workers felt that the issues raised, and suggestions made had ‘fallen on deaf ears’ as they were not addressed, and the proposed changes were ‘simply ignored’. Disappointed and frustrated with the apparent lack of performance improvement achieved by his initiatives, the Divisional Director decided to discuss the situation with a local Business Advisor who specialised in performance management systems.
The Divisional Director explained to the Business Advisor that he had sought to use performance management as a tool for culture change, to enhance the focus on performance, and that he had tried to support this using team-based working, bonus schemes and improved communication mechanisms. The Business Adviser agreed that managing performance could be a very powerful mechanism for changing culture, and he outlined to the Divisional Director his vision of a performance management system that would be more likely to achieve the Divisional Director’s aims.
The task: After reading the case, put yourself in the place of the Business Adviser and outline the advice, you would give the Divisional Director in respect of the following issues: