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Fred Bigjim – Reflection

by on November 7, 2007

I read a nice article in the current issue of Forbes Magazine that covers a change management story that appears to be both positive for the company and the employees. It is about a corporate accounting firm that has over 9,000 thousand employees in just America alone. The name of the company is Deloitte & Touche and the story is about how the company uses career coaches internally to help current employees find positions within the company in order to help retain established employees and cut down on its turnover rate. I thought it would be interesting to compare some of the circumstances in this article to three of the reflections that Kevin posted on his blog from last April’s I3M symposium.

The first outlined blog reflection is “balancing risks and rewards in innovation.” For this particular situation of trying to retain employees and reduce turnover Deloitte & Touche appears to have taken the route of using real options. The firm basically created a team of twenty five career coaches from within the company. The risk of course of taking leaders and placing them into a new job role is that maybe you will not find someone as productive to fill their old position and of course just because someone is a good leader in a current role does not necessarily mean they will do well in a new role. However, it is implied in the article that the company went with internal leaders as opposed to using contract career consultants for the reason that these people had salient knowledge of the company as a whole as opposed to a career coach that would be more knowledgeable about a particular field. I think this was a good strategy to take because even if the twenty five leaders are not as experienced in the field of being a career coach they do know the company well and if you are going to convince employees that you want to help them find a new position or promotion or transfer in the company you need to know the ins and outs of the company in order to convince your employees you are seriously looking out for their needs concerning their career as opposed to just doing job placement or helping the company maintain turnover.

As far as the cost of this change management program according to the article it is two million a year for the company, but it does not cost the employees anything to participate. Therefore from an employee perspective I believe it does send the message that the company is serious about wanting to keep you working within the company in one position or another, so it basically sets up a scenario of if you want to make a job change in your career why not let us help you to find a better fit here with us first because after all you have nothing to lose. If you find a better fit it is a win for you and the company, but if not it did not cost you anything to at least try and look into internal options first. So in dollar amounts the company is now spending two million on this program. I suppose allotting such an amount for a new program could be considered a risk, but given the size of the organization I will have to argue that in the big picture of yearly operations it is a small risk.

The second blog reflection is about “measuring the innovative process.” In class last week it was discussed how expensive employee turnover can be to an organization. This program was initiated in an attempt to control that specific problem. The clear quantitative measurement is one of saving money from decreased turnover. According to the article “Before the counseling program was installed five years ago, staff turnover was 20% per year, costing the company $900 million in recruiting and training expenses. Turnover is down to 15% now, average for the accounting industry.” Obviously, a five percent cut of such a large amount is significant in terms of yearly savings and as far as performance measurement the savings more than pay for the cost of the program. However, I do believe that process appears to be working beyond just one form of measurement for this problem. Another form of measurement could be qualitative in terms of employees having new faith in the company by how the company is making a serious effort to keep them. By making this a free companywide program for all employees it helps promote a positive corporate culture. Something that many companies spend money on attempting to do with company functions and such, therefore this process of working with your employees to stay could be even thought of as a two for one. The employees that do stay for the most part are staying because they are happy with how they are being cared for. Add it up and you are keeping down turnover and increasing or at the least maintaining corporate culture with the same program. Another measurement is that which will pay off in later years as more people move around with their knowledge within the company as opposed to taking that knowledge with them by going to work for a different company.

The final blog reflection that I would like to associate to this article is that of “the role of culture in innovation.” I would have to agree with the blog reflection concerning this article within the given context for this circumstance by the fact that this management change appears to have a high success rate. As discussed in class, when you are succeeding it is obviously easier to maintain a more pleasant corporate culture. If this innovative program were not as successful the exiting employees may not still believe in the company’s corporate culture because they most likely would have experienced the typical indifference attitude by upper management (as opposed to peers and colleagues whom tend to throw going away parties for their friends).
Why I believe that the underpinnings of this blog reflection could have potential down the road for the firm is because of the closing quote in the article. The quote is by one of the company’s career coaches and it is in reference to employees that he has tried to help stay in the company in the coaching program, but yet still decide to leave. He states, “If we can manage it such that they leave and feel positive about the company, then I’ve been successful.” I believe that this quote relates well to the blog reflection if for nothing else wanting exiting employees to feel good about your company even when they are leaving your company for something bigger or better because it demonstrates a form of sincerity to them as a person. Most companies I would guess would be more worried about the costs of finding someone new and probably could care less how you felt while you were leaving. Now imagine five years down the road that same employee that moved to a bigger or better firm remembers his final days of being at your firm as being positive. If this new place he or she is working at is now no longer what this person expected they may want to jump ship again. It could be possible given human nature that after experiencing something that did not meet your expectations (grass is not always greener over there) that you may have nostalgia to return to a more positive work environment. Therefore, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that this person may in fact have the old company as their first choice when wanting out of their current position. The old company would benefit by having the person more or less return to them (as opposed to going out and recruiting given that there is an opening) and even though gone for five years maybe they had a position that gave them good work experience in the industry. Now they return with more experience and an inside knowledge of the competition. It is a stretch, but definitely possible.

References:
Desouza, Kevin (2007, April). Reflections from the I3M Meeting. Retrieved November 4, 2007, from http://ideas4innovation.blogspot.com/
Coster, Helen (October 15, 2007). Baby Please Don’t Go: Deloitte & Touche keeps employees from bolting by helping them find their dream jobs in-house. Forbes, 180, 86-87.

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