Can a company diminish employees’ mistrust and distress when downsizing? Is there such a thing as an “effective” workforce reduction process? In this disguised, yet actual case, Peter Morris, manager of Coastal Power Corpus Christi Plant (Bayland) in Texas, tells his team leaders that they had to cut their workforce 10%. Throughout the (A) case a close approximation of how the dialogue went in that meeting offers several ideas for the reduction that include: length of service, experience, outsourcing, covering the plant with a single electrician, and reducing one person from each operating unit. The case includes data for students to use to generate their own assessment of who should go and who should stay. At the end of the (A) case, Morris shared his plan and asked team leaders to generate a ranking sheet of skills they value, rate employees, and build a consensus among them on where plant workers should be placed on the list. In the (B) case the assessment tool is revealed and all plant workers are ranked to identify the bottom performing employees. They are fired. Then the (B) case adds a new twist when two weeks later, Morris stood in front of the remaining employees to hear their reactions. As he explains how criteria was developed, Morris committed to a plant wide process using the same criteria for everyone remaining employed at the plant?including team leaders. We learn in the (C) case that the second “all-hands” round of rankings was consistent with the team leader’s rankings.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia