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Case Study ALIGNING HR WITH THE BUSINESS AT SBC Mike Mitchell left the Bank of Montreal to become vice president of human resources at the North...

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Case Study ALIGNING HR WITH THE BUSINESS AT SBC Mike Mitchell left the Bank of Montreal to become vice president of human resources at the North American branch of the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC). It was a move up for him in terms of status, responsibility, monetary compensation, and challenge. Of these, the challenge was the most intriguing element for Mitchell. In his mid-30’s, he saw this as perfect time to take a risk in his career. He realized that if he succeeded, he would establish a prototype that could be marketed to other firms. In addition, success could lead to further career opportunities and challenges. While he had a general idea of what he wanted to do and had gotten verbal support from his superiors, the senior vice president of human resources and the president of the SBC, North America, the details of exactly what he was going to do and how he was going to do it were yet to unfold. In the preceding year, the parent company of SBC, (a $110 billion universal bank headquartered in Basil, Switzerland) decided it needed a clearer statement of its intentions to focus its energies and resources in light of the growing international competition. Accordingly, it crafted a vision statement to the effect that the bank was going to better service its customers with high quality products that met their needs rather than just those of the institution. While the North American operation was relatively autonomous, it was still expected to embrace this vision. The details of its implementation, however, were in local hands. For the human resource side, the local hands were Mitchell’s. While Mitchell had spent some time in human resources at the Bank of Montreal in NY, the bulk of his work experience was as an entrepreneur in Montreal, Canada. It was this experience that affected his thinking the most. Thus, when he came to the SBC, his self-image was a businessperson who happened to be working in human resources. It was in part because of this image that his stay at the Bank of Montreal was brief: The idea of human resources was a bit too conservative for his style. Too many of his ideas “just couldn’t be done.” In interviewing with the top managers at SBC, they warned him of the same general environment. So he knew change would be slow among the 1,000 employees, including his own department of 10 employees. He knew, however, that he wanted to reposition and customerize the HR department at the SBC. He also understood the importance of connecting the HR department to the business. Mitchell identified 4 major aspects for his program to reposition and customerize the HR department. The 4 aspects included (1) gathering information, (2) developing action agendas, (3) implementing those agendas, and (4) evaluating and revising the agendas. Gathering Information To gather information about the current environment, Mitchell asked questions of customers, diagnosed the environment, and consulted with the HR department itself. From the customers, Mitchell learned the nature of the business strategy and how HR currently fit with or helped that
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strategy. Customers discussed what they were getting from the HR department, what their ideal would be, and how the ideal could best be delivered. Each HR activity, as well as the entire department and the staff, was discussed. For the environment, Mitchell learned what other companies were doing with their HR departments and HR practices. He examined competitors and those in other industries to gather ideas for the entire department and for each HR activity. From the HR department, he learned about how they saw themselves in relation to servicing wither customers, their knowledge of strategy, how they thought the customers perceived the department, and their desire to improve and change. Developing Agendas Making agendas based on this information was the 2 nd aspect of Mitchell’s plan. As the HR staff analyzed the information, they were asked to develop plans for resolving any discrepancies between what they were currently doing and what their customers wanted. As the staff worked, they began to recognize a need to determine a vision for themselves- to for- mulate a statement of who they were and how they interacted with the rest of the organization. They also began to examine whether their current ways of operating and the departments current structure were sufficiently suited to move ahead. The need to recognize became apparent. Once the vision began to take shape and the agendas were developed, the HR department established a game plan to implement their agendas. Approval by top management and the line managers who were immediately affected was seen as critical to successful implementation. Implementing the Agendas To begin the implementation phase, the HR staff met with the customers to discuss the agendas. In addition to responding to the specific needs of the line managers, the HR department also had to sell the line managers on other activates. With a new focus that was more strategic and customer oriented than in the past, the HR department began to develop programs that were beyond the regular administrative activates and services that it had provided to the line managers. Because these services were new, they had to be sold to their customers, at least at first. So in addition to implementing the specifically agreed upon agendas and contracts, this aspect included developing, selling, and implementing new programs. Evaluating and Revising Developed along with the agendas were contracts that specified what would be delivered to the customer. The customer was given the right to appraise the work delivered. Based on these appraisals by the customers (the line managers), the agendas were evaluated. Revisions and adjustments were then made for continual improvement. In addition to such contracts, the work of the HR department was reviewed internally using such criteria as the reduction in turnover resulting from better selection procedures and an increase in the number of new ideas or innovations resulting from a change in the HR practices to facilitate the innovative strategy of the business. Implications for the HR Department
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Sorry this took me so long. I have been very sick with a... View the full answer


1.) Who were the customers of Mitchell and his HR staff.
The customers of Mitchell and his HR staff are the employees of the bank.
Traditionally, employees are not throught of as customers they are...

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