Friday, December 2, 2005

Real Life Example

C is a competent Sales and Marketing Manager who is good at “managing people and relationship” and “influence through language and ideas”, so to speak. Her previous experience was limited to managing relationship with clients instead of subordinates in a large company.

C was recruited to the company S due to her outstanding sales experience, academic background and outgoing personality. C’s first post was Sales and Marketing Manager for department M which deals with mostly existing accounts.

After few years of successful performance the company posted her to do a difficult assignment of sorting out a 60% owned subsidiary S1. C was not happy being made Managing Director of S1 although the promotion was envied by her peers. The assignment requires none of her core skills. The scary part was that a Director was sent earlier to that position for a year but has failed to achieve what he was told to do. The subsidiary S1 has around 150 people, was in a mess with the 40% owner still taking much control of the day to day operation, and with a client base that C has never dealt with before. C was not really an operation manager type of person with very little knowledge and confidence in herself about managing technical managers and technicians.

The management board of company S was expecting C to straighten out S1 in about a year. In about 6 months C successful strike a deal with the 40% owner to sell their shares at a much lower price than what was budgeted. Again C has exceeded expectation but she was not happy with the outcome. The better than expected performance of C has prompted yet another plan by the management to further push C up the ladder for tougher assignments.

C will be very soon 3 levels above her first boss in the company. Is C happy with these moves? C isn’t happy because her own team in the original department M has been broken up by the management also because of the good performance, i.e. they worked themselves out of the job they all liked. One member of the sales team was asked to manage a smaller subsidiary S2; another one left behind became General Manager who has to work with few new comers to the department. Performance of department M deteriorated; there are also 3 unhappy employees.

From the company perspective job sculpting isn’t required because what’s more important is getting tough tasks accomplished and positions filled with suitable people. Company S belongs to a large British group and it has well established HR policy. Great deal of money was spent in training and development and there is a saying that C was picked as successor for a tougher position up in the ladder purely because of her past performance and was a “popular piece” of a large puzzle in organization reshuffle.

Why the theory of Job Sculpting doesn’t apply here? Why didn’t C threaten to leave so as to trigger company C to observe the need for job sculpting and ask her about “deeply embedded life interests”? The truth of the matter is that not too many people can afford to quit a job for something they desire to do deep down in their skin. They have many other considerations in life which might have pushed “deeply embedded life interests” down the priority list. These considerations could be family, financial, market situation and career prospect of the company….etc.

Work satisfaction is sometime not a prime concern to most employees in certain culture. Job Sculpting is also not in the agenda of HR professional because retaining talent doesn’t appear to be a problem in a competitive market. Will unsatisfied employees still deliver their best, yes in this competitive environment I’m sure most of them will.

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