The Right Way with employees?

As a senior manager for a global player in automobile production and sales, Kirby Ellis had joined thousands of fellow employees in the excitement surrounding production of the company’s new hybrid vehicles. But barely two years into production, embarrassing component shortages, delivery delays, and a recall of the first models had a ripple effect, presenting the company with mounting concerns. In the confusion, many customers canceled orders and turned to competitors for purchase of the eco-friendly vehicles. Ellis’s company was facing a financial downturn. With three decades of service to the company, Kirby led a contingent of managers intent upon keeping together as much of the company and as many employees as possible. “We know there will be some necessary cuts,” Kirby admitted.“But this company has a long history of sticking by its people. Our first priority should be internal streamlining of how we do things and making sure we have the right people on board.” Many managers liked what they heard from Kirby. He was well respected and had an unequaled reputation for his leadership and collaborative skills and his ability to work with managers as well as line workers on the factory floors. People marveled at the number of individuals he knew on a personal level throughout the company. Drew Cunningham influenced a second contingent within the management group. A brash go-getter with a reputation for fixing companies in crisis, he proposed across-the-board cuts in employees in order to implement a solution as quickly as possible. He proposed the immediate creation of a forced ranking system in order to identify and get rid of lower-ranking employees. Kirby raised his hand and rose to his feet in objection. “So we’re going to create a system to fire…” “I didn’t say fire .. .” “OK, cut our own hard-working people? It sounds like some lame government commission,” Kirby said. “We’ve got bright people. This thing simply got worse faster than we thought. We can work with the people we have in setting up more efficient workflow, establishing reasonable deadlines to increase output and . . .” “Kirby, these are not the days of knowing everyone in the plant,” Drew said. “You’re not throwing out your wife’s uncle Harry. We are taking a serious look at what we do, how we do it, and streamlining everything by keeping the right people in the organization and cutting the rest.”


  1. What kind of employee social contract is assumed by Kirby and by Drew? Explain.
  2. If you were an HR manager at the company, which view would you support? Why?
  3. HR departments hire and develop human capital to serve the organization’s strategy and drive performance. Which approach—Kirby’s or Drew’s—is more likely to have a greater positive impact on performance? Discuss.

The length of an answer to each question is typically 100 words.

Do not repeat the questions (Only write your answers).

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