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C ase S tudy G reen M ountain R esort ( Dis)solves t he T urnover P roblem Green M ountain Resort was n ot expected t o be in business f or very...

What was Gunter’s (resort manager) Image of Managing Change throughout the case study? What caused it to change or remain constant? How did the Image of Managing Change impact Gunter’s view of the situation and his resulting actions?

Case Study Green Mountain Resort (Dis)solves the Turnover Problem Green Mountain Resort was not expected to be in business for very long, not that anyone was making predictions. It was a small resort with golf, tennis, and, most notably, some skiing-on machine made snow for the most part-set in the Appalachians. It was a fair distance from major population centers and had none of the history of the famous southern spas of an older era, places like the Homestead. But it didn't have to stand fully on its own: it was built as a draw for buyers of vacation homes at Green Mountain. The resort was the center of sales hospitality and an attractive amenity of home owner- ship. Being a property owner got you membership in the resort with ski passes, discount golf, and the like. Salespeople pointed to the resort as a symbol of their commitment to community: they were not just selling lots; they were offering a lifestyle. Of course, the salespeople also knew that when the real estate sold out, the function of the resort as a sales tool would disappear along with the sales staff, and, if this were like other similar develop- ments, the resort would lose its luster and perhaps even go out of business. The resort wasn't there for vacationers but for buyers. Soon, there would be no more buyers. And soon after that, the resort would have to make it on its own, as only a resort. .,1he .top management of Green Mountain at this time came to the opera-". tion when the original developers fail.~d. They were sent in by the investment bank that had financed the original operation to put the place in order and get it sold. But the bank's workout team fell in love with the rural beauty and lifestyle and bought it themselves. Actually, it was a very complex plan that structured even- tual ownership for the homeowners, with part ownership by the remaining management company that would con- tinue to run the operation. The former bankers were committed to building an actual community, one they wanted to stay in themselves, and to having the resort become a first-class operation on its own. They were explicit about their goal: make sure that Green Mountain, the com- munity and the resort, didn't go to seed when the land sold out. With the new structure, the resort manager was an owner. He decided to stay on, motivated by his ownership share as well as the opportunity to have his own show, no longer just an adjunct to sales. Gunter had been part of the original man- agement and had expected to eventually leave for another resort job, enacting a pattern typical in the hospitality industry. But now he was an owner, not just an employee, and he had a vision of a first- class mountain resort. The architecture of the lodge, and of most of the vacation homes, was more up- country than ski-country. In contrast to this uniquely American look was Gunter, in his Tyrolian hat, his accent recalling his native Austria. He didn't wear lederhosen but would have looked natural in them. His wife, Hilde, actually had blond braids, and when they were together, you could only imagine that they were off on a hike to an Alpine meadow. Their house was perfectly Teutonic, immaculate, and wel- coming in a way that made you think you sho·uldn't touch anything. Gunter was nothing if not rational. That is why Gunter was worried about the turnover of staff. Green Mountain Resort was in a beautiful rural county, but that county was also the poorest in the state. That meant that it was hard to find good employees locally, and those that were good, whether local or imported, didn't stay long. High turnover meant added training, plus the predominance of
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novice staff. And it was mainly the best service people who moved on, leaving behind the poorest performers. That, Gunter knew, undermined efforts to build a first-class operation. Turnover had to be reduced. There weren't a lot of options. In such a small operation, the opportunities for promotion were few, and Gunter was faced with the irony that if he reduced turnover, there would be even fewer openings for advancement. Structural arrangements to keep people from leav- ing, such as term contracts, benefits that took time to vest, and the like, were seen as coercive and drove people away. Besides, such measures seemed out of character for Gunter and for Green Mountain. The so-called hospitality industry, in its training and management development literature, saw turnover as a problem needing treatment, as well. One differ- ence in the industry association view, how- ever, was that turnover was defined as chronic, always there, something to be endured. All management could do, went the advice, was to minimize the debilitat- ing effects: streamline training, simplify jobs, don't become dependent on individ- uals, make HR processes more efficient. Gunter knew this perspective but didn't want to settle for a chronically sick organ- ization. His efforts, though, had turned out to validate the inpustry view and even, sometimes, make 'J:nings ·worse. Gunter also was beginning to see the paradox of his situation and recognize that he needed i not just some new ideas but some new ways of thinking about his situation. So he called in a consultant. The consultant was already working with the development company that was marketing the land and owned the resort but was not an expert in the hospitality industry. This was deliberate, as Gunter already knew the conventional industry take on turnover. Perhaps an outsider, someone with a fresh look, would see something new. The consultant listened to Gunter's retelling of all he had done to reduce turnover, how it hadn't worked and had even driven away some of those he wanted to keep. After listening to the litany 'of failures, the consultant asked just what it was that Gunter really wanted, to which the reply was, reduce turnover, of course. It was said in a way that made the consultant think that Gunter believed he knew what to do and only needed help in the execution, help in finding a better tac- tic for reducing turnover. The consultant told Gunter, with some embarrassment, that he couldn't really think of anything else to try. But he also was suspicious that, since nothing worked and some reasonable tactics just made things worse, they ought to try something different. The consultant suggested rephrasing the old aphorism, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," to say, "If at last you don't suc- ceed, don't just try again, do something different." The issue now was how to break out of the set of failed solutions, all of which, even with their differences, left the situation essentially intact. What would be really different? Since the so-called solutions continued to fail, perhaps a real difference would come from stopping attempts to solve the turnover problem. If turnover is so resist- ant to being changed, perhaps there is something functional about it. What if turnover were em,J:>raced, rather than scorned? The-'<:onsultant suggested look- ing Lnto what actually happened when good people left. Where did they go, and what did they do? In short, Gunter and the consultant went after the answer to a new question: What is good about turnover? Things looked different from this per- spective. The best employees, the ones Gunter most wanted to keep, usually left for better jobs, jobs that required the good training and variety of assignments they had at Green Mountain. And they tended to be high performers in their new jobs, which led to more promotions.
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What was Gunter’s (resort manager) Image of Managing Change throughout the case study?
What caused it to change or remain constant? How did the Image of Managing Change impact
Gunter’s view of...

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