The New Director of Human Resources
Mount Ridge is a firm that operates utility plants, which are coal fired, in Kentucky, US. This firm sells the electricity and steam that is produced to local utilities and industrial plants respectively. The company is guided by the vision of the founder, Levinson, who foresaw coal as being a future efficient means of generating electricity. The corporate structure of human resource for Mount Ridge is centralized, with the major decisions being made at the corporate headquarters. However, at the plant level, the plant superintendent is in charge of the plant. The shift supervisor’s rank is below the superintendent’s, but both of them are the ones responsible for the daily operations concerning personnel policies at the plant level.
According to Nkomo et. al. (2004), at the corporate level, the plant maintenance and operations manager is the overall person in charge of the plants, with the plant superintendent reporting to him. Since Mount Ridge is a relatively big company, there exists a danger where there is disconnect between the larger organization as a whole, with the smaller units such as the plants. The same way that senior employees have communication barriers between them and junior employees, so does the corporate headquarters have with its plants. This may explain the reason why some supervisors do not follow the policy of the company. In this situation, the fact that the plant superintendent was bold enough to alter the resignation forms for Johnson, meant that he was confident that the corporate headquarters would not get to know about the situation, due to the disconnect between it and the plants.
Newcombe, the vice president, should have ensured that the corporate headquarters had close ties with its plants, such that they knew all the activities and operations that went on in them. If they had close ties with the plants, they would have known if Johnson was eligible for a promotion or not. This would have been achieved by not only having regular meetings with the plant supervisors, but also with workers’ representative from each plant. The lack of unions meant that the workers had no platform to air their grievances, and this might explain the reason why Johnson, an auxiliary operator, had to communicate directly with the vice president before his issues could be addressed. The introduction of unions and election of workers’ representatives would avoid a similar situation in future.
The plant superintendent clearly committed an unethical act, which may border on a criminal act of forgery or misrepresentation. However, before any disciplinary action is taken against him, an independent committee or board should be constituted to determine if he is guilty of the offense. During this period of investigation, he should be suspended from duty, so that he is not able to interfere with investigations. The board should hear the evidence from all concerned parties, including Mr Braxton, and in the event that he is found guilty, in my opinion he should be fired immediately. This is due to the reason that he is a senior employee whose conduct either builds or tarnishes the company name. In this case, tarnishing the name of the company would cost its goodwill which has been developed over several years. If on the other hand he is found innocent, he should be immediately reinstated to his previous position.
If Braxton is found to be guilty, Johnson may either seek redress through the courts or seek an out-of-court settlement with either Braxton or with the company. In case he goes to court, he may sue for slander and seek damages. He may explain that the fact that his resignation form indicates that he has another employment, this has been a hindrance to his acquisition to an employment opportunity. He may explain that prospective employers are demanding a resignation letter from the firm he supposedly works for, yet it is non-existent.
The business strategy that is used by Mount Ridge involves dependence on the local utility and industrial plants for its end products, which are steam and electricity. It relies on keeping its operational costs low enough, so that the utilities can purchase the cost effective power, in line with the federal regulations. The human resource strategy on the other hand aims at motivating employees, through monetary and non-monetary means, in order to make them achieve higher output and be loyal to the company. However, there is a balance between the human resource practices and the business strategy, such that the human resource costs are kept low enough for the utilities to keep on purchasing power from the firm. The corporate headquarters also gives the individual plants freedom to carry out their operations through delegating responsibilities to the plant superintendent.
As Mount Ridge expands, Newcombe is likely to face several challenges. This company will grow to be a big firm with a good reputation. With this reputation, the employees will expect their salaries and benefits to increase in accordance to the growth. This poses two threats; the first is attraction of workers from the utilities and plants, which are Mount Ridge’s major clients. This can create bad blood between Mount Ridge and its clients thereby negatively affecting its sales. Another risk is that the financial demands that come with expansion, may increase the cost of producing power, thereby making it more expensive than what the local utilities are offering to purchase it for, forcing them to look for alternative manufacturers. This will negatively affect the sales volumes for Mount Ridge.
The expansion may also affect the organization through further widening the rift between the corporate headquarters and the individual plants. The senior level employees may also not get to know the problems facing junior employees, due to communication barriers created by bureaucracy that is inherent in large organizations.
In conclusion, Mount Ridge should bridge the differences between the corporate headquarters and the plants through introducing workers’ representatives, who will inform the top management on the problems at the lower levels of management. It is also important for the company to stay focused on its vision, even as it expands, as it is likely to face the challenges that have been earlier discussed.
Nkomo, S. M., Fottler, M. D., McAfee, R. B. (2004). Applications in Human Resource
Management: Cases, Exercises and Skill Builders. New York: Thomson/South- Western.