South-Western - Management  
Home Depotís New HR Leader Faces Tall Order
Topic Human Resources Management
Key Words Recruitment, empowerment, ownership
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News Story

Home Depotís new human resources chief, Tim Crow, has been given a challenge to fix two of the most pressing issues facing the Atlanta-based retailer: meeting an aggressive recruitment target of 15,000 hires, and overcoming customer service problems in stores.

Home Depotís busy spring and summer season is coming, and the retailer—which already employs 355,000 workers in its 2,171 stores—plans to recruit 15,000 new employees for a variety of part-time and full-time positions in sales, operations and specialty departments.

The recruitment goals are just a start. In order to improve service levels in the stores, Crow will need to reduce the ratio of part-time workers. Only 20% of Home Depotís current workforce is full-time, which has had an adverse effect on customer service, according to Jeff Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management. He says that part-time workers have higher turnover and lack deep expertise, which can be drawbacks in the workplace.

Robert Nardelliís centralization policy that was put in place in 2000 saved the company money and made it more efficient, but it also eroded the entrepreneurial spirit which had been a strong part of Home Depotís culture. Service took the hardest hit.

Home Depot also needs to improve levels of service in stores by bolstering training and empowering workers. Sonnenfeld says that this can be a real turning point for the company. The opportunity is there to bring back creativity, enthusiasm, and a sense of ownership. If the company can get its ďpeopleĒ issues in order, financial success should follow.

Questions
1.

Name at least three things that Home Depot can do during its recruitment and selection process to make sure that it is hiring the employees that are going to bring ownership to the job and restore levels of customer service in stores.

2.

Name at least three things that Home Depot can do after the recruitment and selection process to maintain the efforts of building a new and more energized workforce.

3.

Give three reasons why having a higher ratio of full-time employees is suited to Home Depotís mission of becoming more customer-focused at the store level and of improving service and sales.

4.

This article, and many others, put the blame for Home Depotís current financial troubles squarely on the shoulders of ex-CEO Robert Nardelli. In what ways can a leader negatively influence the culture of a company? Do you agree that Nardelli is to blame for the declining service and sales in Home Depot stores?

Source ďHome Depotís New HR Leader Faces Tall Order,Ē Workforce Management, Feb. 12, 2007, v86 i3 p. 4.
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