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Problem-Solving Skills - Case Analysis

EssayChat / Nov 3, 2018



The purpose of the analysis is to develop logical and problem-solving skills so that the efficiency of a good manager can be gained. Hence, the analysis includes inferring the stages of the organisational life cycle as applied to Microsoft and the way HR activities could contribute to the company success and recommending a reliable HR strategy for the organisation. It also discusses the process of conducting a job analysis and the way Microsoft should design the job of a project manager.

1. Deducing the stages of the organisational life cycle that Microsoft was in, how could HR activities contribute to the success of Microsoft in the stages of the life cycle?

Business Problem Solving SkillsOrganisational life cycle refers to the life cycle of a company from its establishment to its end. It can be also explained as the predictable order of developments experienced by a firm, as faced with randomised incidences of events. It is the process of explaining the organisational improvements over time. It contains five stages including, establishment, growth, stabilisation, crisis and termination as depicted in the following figure (Armstrong et al. 9).

Figure 1: Organisational lifecycle
(Source: Armstrong et al. 9)

According to Chelladurai et al. (17), in the growth stage, revenue of a company remains lower than its expenses and the firm is in the loss. In this stage, new products and services are developed and revenue keeps increasing. It needs recruiting efficient staff, offering training and motivating them for improving overall efficiency.

In the provided case, Microsoft was in the growth stage, as it was involved in developing its employees for improving efficiency and introducing new products like an interactive toy for children. Bill Gates and Paul Alien founded Microsoft in 1975. The firm considers it people as strategic assets and hence, focuses on motivating throughout. It helped the firm to go forward from establishment to the growth stage. Recruitment of best-skilled people like Matt and offering them the caffeine culture as work environment and rewards for motivating the people helped the firm appearing in the growth stage.

As it is found that Matt was not satisfied with his management role, it can be suggested that Microsoft could have focused on improving job satisfaction of its employees to retain them. Armstrong et al. (10) stated that recruiting talented people is not enough for gaining success in the growth stage rather it needs maintaining effective communication with the employees for identifying and meeting their needs, providing them career development opportunities and making their jobs exciting.

2. What should be a suitable overall contingent HR strategy for Microsoft? Did the HR practices of the firm described in the case reflect that the overall contingent HR strategy of my choice was actually adopted?

After going through the case study, it is found that Microsoft focuses on a wide range of HR practices. However, it is evident in the case that thee intellect-driven management model was chaotic and disorganised for some of the employees. It was mentioned that several managers were incompetent in fulfilling their responsibilities properly. Therefore, the company must have recruited efficient managers ad there should have been a robust system for analysing candidates and selecting the best people for different positions. Moreover, there was a lack of job enrichment among employees due to which, Matt, who was in the management position for the last 3 years. As stated by Collings et al. (5), job enrichment is a corporate motivational tool applied for providing higher satisfaction to the staff by giving them extra responsibilities or offering other higher positions. Thus, by changing job roles of the managers or providing them additional responsibilities could have helped Microsoft managing its human resources better and gaining their satisfaction.

No, the HR activities of Microsoft provided in the case, does not reflect the overall reliable HR strategy of my choice was really adopted. Working continuously for 3 years in the same position fulfilling same responsibilities was the key reason behind the dissatisfaction of Matt. Apart from that, intellect-driven management model was also not effective for the firm. For example, 30 people used to report to a single manager was highly implausible. Hence, to grow properly, the business owner must determine when to hire new employees for maximising quality and employee satisfaction.

3. How to conduct a job analysis for project manager positions?

In the case, it is found that Mr Kaplan failed to analyse the job of Matt, the project manager of the Vega project. Therefore, dissatisfaction arose in Matt. According to Bratton et al. (10), it is important to carry out job analysis by comparing duties performed by employees with the job description. It helps in to identify whether the duties are performed with dedication and whether employees are satisfied with their job roles and duties. Therefore, for future improvement, Mr Kaplan is suggested to follow the steps below for conducting job analysis of the position of a project manager appropriately.

·Kaplan needs asking the project managers for completing forms of job analysis.

·Further, he needs interviewing project managers by asking particular questions pertaining to their job roles and responsibilities.

·Next, he should get log sheets from the managers including information on every one of their tasks along with time spent for completing them for minimum one complete workweek.

·Further, Kaplan needs completing desk audits for observing the project managers doing their tasks at different times of a day and tracking the time taken by them for doing different tasks.

·Further, he needs interviewing the team members of the project manages for analysing their efficiency as project managers.

4. How could Microsoft design project manager jobs to increase both project success and project managers' satisfaction and retention?

Satisfaction of a project manager is depended on the success of a project. Hence, for gaining project success and retaining project manager by satisfying him requires designing the job of a project manager interestingly. Chelladurai et al. (15) commented that job responsibilities of a project manager must be designed in following way for gaining overall success and satisfaction:

·First, the responsibilities of the project manager must be specified such as planning resources, gathering and leading the project team, managing time and budget, managing risks and issues, monitoring progress, reporting and certification.

·A project manager is responsible for supervising projects containing prospects for the project for ensuring it is done based on the decided timeframes and quality standards.

·Along with supervision, the project manager must assist the design roles including duty for particular design activities through every phase of the project, reviewing the work of other members of the team, and implementing changes for ensuring the project accomplished successfully.

·Kaplan must design the salary structure for the project manager post effectively by considering the number of projects accomplished within the budget and other stipulations. The pay scale and bonus structure for the post of project manager must be competitive, so that project managers can be attracted and retained.

·Further, some projects must be a challenge to them in terms of completing it within restricted time and budget. It may help in to encourage their motivation and to give them a sense of satisfaction after completing it.


Hence, Microsoft's problems in the case are regarding inappropriate management model, an insufficient number of managers and lack of employee satisfaction. The company was in the growth stage in the case and it could have done in this stag better by applying more reliable HR strategies.


Armstrong, Michael, and Stephen Taylor. Armstrong's handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers, 2014.

Bratton, John, and Jeff Gold. Human resource management: theory and practice. Palgrave, 2017.

Chelladurai, Packianathan, and Shannon Kerwin. Human resource management in sport and recreation. Human Kinetics, 2017.

Collings, David G., Geoffrey T. Wood, and Leslie T. Szamosi. "Human resource management: A critical approach." Human Resource Management. Routledge, 2018. 1-23.

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