BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS SKILLS
GETTING WITH THE PROGRAM
To encourage you to understand the relationship between organizational structure and a
company’s ability to attract and keep valued employees.
You are the founder of a small but growing high-tech company that develops new
computer software. With your current workload and new contracts in the pipeline, your
business is thriving, except for one problem: You cannot find computer programmers for
product development. Worse yet, current staff members are being lured away by other
high-tech firms. After suffering a particularly discouraging personnel raid in which
competitors captured three of your most valued employees, you schedule a meeting with
your director of human resources to plan organizational changes designed to encourage
worker loyalty. You already pay top dollar, but the continuing exodus tells you that
programmers are looking for something more.
Working with three or four classmates, identify some ways in which specific
organizational changes might improve the working environment and encourage employee
loyalty. As you analyze the following factors, ask yourself the obvious question: If I were
a programmer, what organizational changes would encourage me to stay?
Level of job specialization. With many programmers describing their jobs as tedious because of the focus on detail in a narrow work area, what changes, if any,
would you make in job specialization? Right now, for instance, few of your
programmers have any say in product design.
Decision-making hierarchy. What decision-making authority would encourage
people to stay? Is expanding employee authority likely to work better in a centralized
or decentralized organization?
Team authority. Can team empowerment make a difference? Taking the point of
view of the worker, describe the ideal team.
Intrapreneuring. What can your company do to encourage and reward
1 With the average computer programmer earning nearly $70,000, and with all
competitive firms paying top dollar, why might organizational issues be critical in
determining employee loyalty?
2 If you were a programmer, what organizational factors would make a difference to
3 As the company founder, how willing would you be to make major organizational
changes in light of the shortage of qualified programmers? EXERCISING YOUR ETHICS: INDIVIDUAL EXERCISE
MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Assume that you have recently gone to work for a large high-tech company. You have
discovered an interesting arrangement in which one of your coworkers is engaging.
Specifically, he blocks his schedule for the hour between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon each
day and does not take a lunch break. During this one-hour interval, he is actually running
his own real estate business.
You recently asked this employee how he manages to pull this off. “Well,” he responded,
“the boss and I never talked about it, but she knows what’s going on. They know they
can’t replace me, and I always get my work done. I don’t use any company resources. So,
what’s the harm?” Interestingly, you also have a business opportunity that could be
pursued in the same way.
QUESTION TO ADDRESS
1 What are the ethical issues in this situation?
2 What do you think most people would do in this situation?
3 What would you do in this situation? EXERCISING YOUR ETHICS: TEAM EXERCISE
TO POACH, OR NOT TO POACH …
The Hails Corporation, a manufacturing plant, has recently moved toward an all-team-
based organization structure. That is, all workers are divided into teams. Each team has
the autonomy to divide up the work assigned to it among its individual members. In
addition, each team handles its own scheduling for members to take vacations and other
time off. The teams also handle the interviews and hiring of new team members when the
need arises. Team A has just lost one of its members who moved to another city to be
closer to his ailing parents.
Since moving to the team structure, every time a team has needed new members, it has
advertised in the local newspaper and hired someone from outside the company.
However, Team A is considering a different approach to fill its opening. Specifically, a
key member of another team (Team B) has made it known that she would like to join
Team A. She likes the team members, sees the team’s work as being enjoyable, and is
somewhat bored with her team’s current assignment.
The concern is that if Team A chooses this individual to join the team, several
problems may occur. For one thing, her current team will clearly be angry with the
members of Team A. Further, “poaching” new team members from other teams inside the
plant is likely to become a common occurrence. On the other hand, though, it seems
reasonable that she should have the same opportunity to join Team A as an outsider would. Team A needs to decide how to proceed.
Assemble a group of four students and assign each group member to one of the following
Member of Team A