Chapter 6 – home chapter
**Tip: watch for unintended consequences* – your best option needs
to work both for people within the department and people external to
the department trying to access info needed
Adlerwood Maufacturing Ltd.
Adapted from: Steven L. McShane, The University of Western Australia
Adlerwood Manufacturing Ltd. is a mid sized Canadian business employing over 1,400 people
across Canada. Their head office is in Calgary, Alberta, with satellite offices in several other
provinces. Due to an upswing in the economy and a spike in demand for their products,
Alderwood has recently experienced a rapidly expansion in their staff.
The Human Resources (HR) department at Alderwood consists of five HR Assistants (HRAs), who
manage all employee files and answer questions from the line managers from all departments
across the organization. Each HRA has their area of specialization, i.e. benefits, pensions,
vacation entitlements, etc. Currently, when a new person is hired, the HRA responsible for
hiring, opens a file for the new employee, includes critical employment information, and then
passes the file onto the next HRA so they can add information specific to their area of
specialization. The electronic file is logically and sequentially passed amongst all the HRAs.
Due to Alderwood’s recent rapid expansion and hiring, cracks are beginning to show in the
existing HR department’s specialized system. Line managers from various departments have
expressed frustration with having to speak to several HRAs in order to get a complete picture of
an employee’s file. They also complain that the HRAs seem to care more about their particular
HR function than about the overall quality of HR records and employee and manager’s needs.
In addition, the HRAs themselves are showing signs of frustration because some of the files are
incomplete as it has become more difficult to coordinate the workload within the HR
department. This is creating tension amongst the HRAs. Due to their degree of specialization,
some of the HRAs are also becoming bored with the repetitiveness of their jobs. Typically, after
they have spent a year in the position, they know their area very well, and the work has become
routine and monotonous. The combination of these conditions has lead to serious morale
problems, decreased productivity and increased turnover in the HR department.
As the Director of HR, the problems noted above have become evident to you. You have
decided that it is time to take action to address these issues before you lose more HRAs and the
line managers become even more agitated about the system that from their stand point,
To address the issues in this case please focus primarily of concepts from chapter 6
. You are
welcome to pull in concepts from other chapters if you think they apply.