Please read the cases and answer the questions at the end of each one. Answers must be written in American English.
1. Curt’s Cowboy Corner is a chain of 15 stores that sells cowboy boots and western clothing. Curt opened the first store 10 years ago in a small Rocky Mountain town and quickly gained a following of loyal customers. Based on input from customers and friends, Curt decided to expand his business and began opening new stores in nearby towns. He plans to open 10 more stores in the next few years.
Each of Curt’s stores has a manager, three full-time sales representatives, and five or six part-time employees. In the early days, Curt worked closely with each store manager to plan day-to-day operations, helping to make all hiring decisions. He and a secretary also spent many days each month working on payroll. Lately, however, Curt has found that he does not have enough time to interview job candidates and handle several other of his customary tasks. He thinks this might be one reason some of the newer employees aren’t working out so well. In addition, last month, he was two days late completing the payroll, thereby creating numerous problems for employees. Curt knows that he needs to do a better job of delegating tasks. Another of his concerns focuses on the potential liabilities of having a growing workforce. One employee recently told him that she felt uncomfortable about some sexual comments her boss had made to her. Curt spent several hours talking to both the employee and her boss, and although he feels pretty good about how he handled the situation, he acknowledges that he does not have the requisite knowledge or skill to resolve such matters.
Curt’s brother, who owns a number of automobile dealerships in a distant city, has encouraged Curt to hire a human resource professional. But Curt has been reluctant to hire staff members who do not spend time selling in stores. His philosophy has always been those staff members who don’t make sales are an expense without much return. At the same time, Curt knows that he must do something, or else things will get worse. If he is able to grow the business as he plans, he will soon have nearly 100 full-time employees.
Questions:
What are some specific tasks that a human resource specialist could do for Curt?
Are there any financial benefits that might come from hiring a human resource specialist?
How might labor trends affect Curt’s ability to continue expanding his stores?
What benefits and problems might result if Curt hires a human resource specialist to provide support to all stores? Would it be better to simply delegate all human resource activities to each store manager?
Please read the case and answer the questions at the end.
2. Mountain Bank is located in the northwest United States. The bank has four major business lines: retail banking, consumer lending, real estate, and mortgage banking, and corporate banking. Traditionally, Mountain Bank has had a strong presence in the retail banking line, with only a limited presence in the other lines. However, deregulation in the banking industry has led to mergers and acquisitions for Mountain Bank, as well as for several of its competitors.
Retail banking includes traditional banking activities such as providing checking and savings accounts. Mountain Bank currently has about 50 percent of the market for retail accounts in its area. Often, however, these accounts are not very profitable. Consumer lending encompasses a variety of secured and unsecured consumer loans, such as home equity lines of credit, automobile loans, boat loans, and card lines of credit. Mountain Bank currently has about 25 percent of this market. Real estate and mortgage banking involve obtaining and servicing home mortgage loans, which are seen as a stable form of income for most banks. Mountain Bank currently has less than 10 percent of this market. Corporate banking provides services to businesses. Corporate clients are provided with a wide variety of basic services, as well as financing for equipment acquisitions and plant expansions. These services are often seen as very profitable. However, Mountain Bank has a very small presence in the corporate market—less than 5 percent of the market, according to current estimates.
Mountain Bank has established a strategy of leveraging its strong retail banking presence into gains in the real estate and corporate areas. Past experience suggests that one of the best methods for achieving this leverage is cross-selling, which occurs when tellers and customer service representatives convince customers with retail accounts to open corporate accounts or to obtain home mortgages from Mountain Bank.
Recent studies have found that bank tellers are critical to the success of Mountain Bank. In fact, one study found that customers’ experiences with tellers are the single most important driver of customer satisfaction. After all, a bank teller is often the only person an individual customer has contact with when visiting a bank branch. Although fewer tellers are needed every year due to technological improvements, tellers are still the heart and soul of a bank.
A typical branch of Mountain Bank has three to seven tellers, depending on size and location. Floating tellers (part-timers) are also used to increase the staff during lunch hours and paydays. Mountain Bank has traditionally approached the teller position as a low-paying, entry-level position. Tellers are frequently part-time employees. Turnover is quite high, and successful tellers are often transferred to customer service positions.
Job Description
Job: Bank Teller
Pay: $14 per hour
Receives and pays out money and keeps records of money and negotiable instruments involved in financial transactions. Receives checks and cash for deposit verifies the amount, and examines checks for endorsements. Cashes checks and pays out money after verification of signatures and customer balances. Enters customers’ transactions into a computer to record transactions and issues computer-generated receipts. Places hold on accounts for uncollected funds. Orders daily supply of cash and count incoming cash. Balances currency, coin, and checks in cash drawer at end of the shift using a calculator and compares totaled amounts with data displayed on a computer screen. Explains, promotes, and sells products and services, such as traveler’s checks, savings bonds, money orders, and cashier’s checks.
Questions:
What competitive business strategy do you recommend for Mountain Bank?
Based on the universalistic approach and commitment strategy, what types of human resource practices do you recommend for Mountain Bank with respect to its tellers?
Which of the four human resource strategies do you recommend for Mountain Bank with respect to its tellers? Why?

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