You have to answer the 5 questions, write a paragraph for each question.


Devinder looked out of his office window at the wind farm on the horizon.  Round and round went the propellers, slowly beating a rhythm, but not, apparently doing anything.  They seemed to move at the same pace as Jim, the company’s storeman, who was at that moment trudging across the yard.  Not a happy comparison, Devinder thought.  The wind machines worked in harness with nature and kept going 24 hours a day if conditions were right.  Jim seemed to know only conflict, and as for working, 24 minutes was probably about right.

Devinder couldn’t understand it.  His father, the firm’s founder, had always spoken fondly of Jim, about the storeman’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the stock and his willingness to adapt.  Of course, Devinder accepted that Jim’s job had changed beyond recognition and that, as a result, Jim probably resented the current position.  The reasons for this resentment were obvious.  First of all, just-in-time delivery meant that stock levels were much lower than they had been in the past, and second, the introduction of computerisation meant that Jim’s knowledge of the stock was no longer of such importance.  Devinder had only to switch on his computer to find out that kind of information.

But Jim wasn’t the only problem facing Devinder.  His whole workforce seemed to be breaking up.  He couldn’t understand what was wrong.  After all, he’d taken his father’s business in an entirely new direction, from old to new technology; he’d found markets and obtained sales, both in the UK and abroad, and he’d achieved it without making one person redundant.  Yet no one seemed happy.  Inevitably, when Devinder’s dad retired, some of the longest serving staff went too, but it hadn’t been just some, over the past two years or so they’d almost all gone.  Except for Sheila in Personnel, poor old Jim was practically the last one, and even he was retiring in three weeks.  Devinder had just agreed to the advertisement for a new storeman a day or so ago.

Worryingly, it wasn’t just the ‘old guard’.  Younger people, those in their 20s and 30s were also leaving.  With unemployment high locally, Sheila had been able to replace them without too much difficulty, but even these recruits weren’t staying long.  Devinder was concerned about the lack of long term expertise and experience in the company.

Devinder’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.  In walked Anne Haynes, an old university friend of his, who had spent her career in human resource management (HRM) with a large multinational.  He had telephoned her in desperation two weeks earlier, and sent her details of staff organisation, recruitment and turnover, a move that Sheila in personnel clearly resented.

Three hours later, Devinder felt as though he’d been run over, or perhaps tied to one of the wind generators’ sails and sent spinning round and round!  He’d also offered Anne a job as head of HRM, which she had accepted, subject to certain conditions.  These were, first, that the Personnel Department be renamed the HRM Department and that staff should be seen as a major strategic resource.  Second, that Sheila be retrained or encouraged to retire.  Third, that in-house training schemes should be established, and liaison with local colleges should start immediately with the objective of introducing up to date courses relevant to the firm’s new situation.  As Anne put it: ‘You’ve just focussed on sales, new investments and profits; your staff have had little by way of training and no sense of involvement.  Is it any wonder that they don’t want to work for you?’  Fortunately Devinder was able to accept the criticism and started to work on improving the situation.

  1. Analyse the likely short and long term effects on Devinder’s business of a fall in unemployment locally
  • Use the text as a starting point to discuss why many commentators believe that successful change is about people first and technology second.
  • Outline two mistakes you think Devinder has made in managing his staff
  • To what extent may there be significance in altering the name of the Personnel Department to ‘Human Resource Management’?
  • Consider the possible benefits to the firm of adopting Anne Haynes’s proposals.
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