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Strategic Human Resource Management

By amanemo1991 Apr 13, 2013 2203 Words

Identify an organization that has recently got competitive advantage over their nearest competitor. What were their Human Resource Strategies?

Apple Inc. (Apple) was incorporated on January 3, 1977, is engaged in designing, manufacturing and marketing mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. The Company’s products and services include iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, Apple TV, a portfolio of consumer and professional software applications, the iOS and Mac OS X operating systems, iCloud, and a range of accessory, service and support offerings. It also sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store. Fortune magazine named Apple the most admired company in the United States in 2008, and in the world from 2008 to 2012.


[ Iphone ]

[ Ipods ]

[ Ipad ]

[ Macbook ]


CEOSenior Vice President

Craig FederighiScott Forstall
Mac Software Engineering Senior Vice President
IOS Software

Peter OppenheimerPhilip W. Schiller
Chief Financial Officer Senior Vice President
Worldwide Marketing

Apple and Microsoft, both the words are synonymous to technology. No body knew what apple was ten years ago and today it is one of the leading company manufacturing variety of products. Apple’s Iphone business alone is now bigger than whole microsoft. Apple’s smartphone division generated $24.4 billion of revenue in the first quarter of 2012, whereas the whole of microsoft generated $20.9 billion in the first quarter. That includes entertainment devices such as Xbox, as well as Windows, Microsoft Office and Windows Phone. It sold 37.04 million iPhones - its flagship product - and 15.43 million iPads in the first quarter, doubling from a year earlier. Apple's hoard of cash now stands at $100bn - which could be enough to buy Facebook outright. There are several reasons for Apple’s growth. The first is that its sales and profits continue to grow at double- and sometime triple-digit rates. This is absolutely unprecedented for such a large company. Furthermore, Apple has been able to introduce new products and gain wide adoption for them in a way that is unmatched by any other company in the world.

Apple is like a tech version of Wonka’s factory, an enigmatic but enchanted place that produces wonderful items one can't get enough of. That characterization is true, but Apple also is a brutal and unforgiving place, where accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top. Before joining apple, each employee is trained for few weeks. In this training session, the employees are instilled with the values of apple. Moreover, the employees are encouraged to feel apple and treat it like a family. A problem is not looked upon as an organizational problem but a problem for each employee. The trainers are specialized people selected by Late Mr. Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs has become a cult figure among Apple’s employees, customers and investors. He was one of the most recognized CEOs in the world. Jobs was viewed as the person who invented each Apple product, designed it, and planned its marketing. His death shocked every other person alive and is still remembered. No other company can claim to have a spokesman nearly as valuable as Jobs. Steve Jobs focused on the attention to detail, the secrecy, and the constant feedback -- into processes that ensured Apple's excellence far into the future. * WEEKLY MEETINGS:

Every Mondays APPLE CEO Mr. Tim Cook meets with his executive management team to discuss results and strategy as well as review nearly every important project in the company. They look at every single product under development, put out an agenda and work accordingly. This gives a clear picture of what every employee has to do. On Wednesdays a meeting with the marketing and communications department is held and all the marketing strategies are discussed here and constantly new innovative ideas are encouraged. Each person who gives a good idea is then recognized. In these meeting, each employee present can raise his/her voice and share their opinions with the rest of the attendees.

The feedback all the employees receive is incredible. Even the most junior-level designer gets a direct executive level feedback. Feedback is in both the form, Positive as well as Negative when they feel any person is doing something stupid and is wasting time. * CLEARLY DEFINED ROLES:

At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what. They even have a commonly term used internally ‘DRI’, or DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUAL. Most of the times, the DRI’s name appears on the agenda for meeting. All the meetings have an ACTION LIST and next to each Action item a name is mentioned who is responsible for the particular action. Most of the times to clear doubts on a particular task, they search for the DRI who is assigned that particular task. * SIMPLICITY IN ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE:

There aren't any committees at Apple, the concept of general management is frowned on, and only one person, the chief financial officer, has a "P&L," or responsibility for costs and expenses that lead to profits or losses. It's a radical example of Apple's different course: Most companies view the P&L as the ultimate proof of a manager's accountability; Apple turns that dictum on its head by labelling P&L a distraction only the finance chief needs to consider. The result is a command-and-control structure where ideas are shared at the top -- if not below. Jobs often contrasts Apple's approach with its competitors'. Sony, he has said, had too many divisions to create the iPod. Apple instead has functions. "It's not synergy that makes it work" is how one observer paraphrases Jobs' explanation of Apple's approach. "It's that we're a unified team." * FOCUSED:

One of Apple's greatest strengths is its ability to focus on just a few things at a time, an entrepreneurial trait difficult to imagine at a corporation with a market value of $320 billion. They focus completely on one product till it releases and as a result they can give their best at what they’re doing. This also helps the employees as they are motivated to work towards one goal and as a result all work together to achieve it. From the initial stage of the product development till its launch, each and every employee is motivated to work hard. * SECRET MEETINGS(TOP 100):

There is a small group at Apple that meets the CEO. It's called the Top 100, and every year or so the CEO gathers these select few for an intense three-day strategy session at a secure, undisclosed location. This was first started by Mr. Steve Jobs and is still believed to be followed at apple. Everything about this Top 100 meeting is shrouded in secrecy, starting with its very existence. Those tapped to attend are encouraged not to put the meeting on their calendars. Discussing their participation is a no-no, even internally. Attendees aren't allowed to drive themselves to the gathering. Instead they ride buses that depart from Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to places like the sumptuous Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, Calif., which satisfies two Jobs requirements: good food and no golf course. Apple goes so far as to have the meeting rooms swept for electronic bugs to stymie snooping competitors .

Job’s inner circle includes (from left) Jonathan Ive, Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue, and Scott Forstall, photographed at the apple campus. They are still the most important people at apple, and now close to Mr. Tim Cook. The Top 100 meeting is an important managerial tool. The elaborately staged event gives the CEO an opportunity to share his grand vision with Apple's next generation of leaders. Moreover, every year the top 100 people keep on changing, some might stay some might not. Jobs had once referred to the group in an interview several years ago with Fortune. "My job is to work with sort of the Top 100 people," he said. "That doesn't mean they're all vice presidents. Some of them are just key individual contributors. So when a good idea comes … part of my job is to move it around [and] … get ideas moving among that group of 100 people." Privately Jobs has spoken even more strongly about the Top 100's importance. "If he had to recreate the company, these are the 100 people he'd bring along" is how one former Apple executive describes Jobs' characterization. As a result, it acts as a motivation for all the employees as they all want to be a part of that ‘TOP 100’. All the employees work extremely hard to be a part of the meeting, so each employee gives his 100%. * IGNORE YOUR CRITICS:

Apple focuses on building what they want to build, no matter the perceived cost. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPad, the critics stood in line, throwing every insult possible. The critics said that the iPad would fail. Each and every time Apple decided to innovate, they were laughed at. But today the results are in front of us. This is one quality which every employee is taught, and to give opinions which they really feel is correct and not just what the critics say.

As mentioned earlier, the apple headquarter is for many people, like a chocolate factory. The Apple headquarter has all the facilities an employee can ask for. It is divided into six buildings as seen in the picture below:

The pictures below shows a glimpse of facilities apple employees get. These not only provides a good and friendly environment to work to the employees, but, also they are encouraged to work more efficiently and their loyalty is maintained as they do not leave their jobs.




[LUNCH BREAK ENTERTAINMENT AT APPLE. A band performing and all the employees are gathered around it, keeping the environment at apple quite friendly and stress-free]

[BASKET BALL COURT at the Apple Campus]


As a part of EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES, apple does many small things to keep their staff happy. There is a notice board where each week employees are asked to give their reviews various things such as movies etc. In the picture below the employees have given ratings to their favourite chocolates:

[Birthday Celebrations of one of the employees]
Town hall meetings are also regularly conducted where the CEO himself interacts with all the staff. All the problems are discussed during this meeting. Moreover, all the employees are also briefed upon the new strategies and goals which Apple has decided.

Specialization is the norm at Apple, and as a result, Apple employees aren't exposed to functions outside their area of expertise. One of the executive who runs Apple's online store, for example, has no authority over the photographs on the site. Photographic images are handled companywide by Apple's graphic arts department. This is a philosophy of Mr. Steve Jobs and HUMAN RESOURCE department keeps this in mind every time hiring a new person. As a result the job specifications are well defined at Apple so that there is no scope for any confusion.

* Constantly improving products:
Apple has been able to introduce generation after generation of the same product by making incremental improvements to early versions. The Mac was introduced in the 1980s and recent sales hit all-time highs. Macs now come in a wide array of sizes, processors, and software features. Another notable case of Apple’s ability to ‘recreate’ products is probably the iPod, which was first launched in 2001. There have been over a dozen major versions of that product over the last decade. But the true signature example of Apple’s ability to recreate a product is the iPhone, which is about to be re-introduced, again, with the iPhone 5. While the basic features have remained largely unchanged, each successive version is more popular than the last. Looking at this, it is noticed that the employees at Apple are constantly motivated to innovate and as a result everyone has the freedom to give suggestions. This gives a sense of belongingness towards the organization. * Become the name:

You don’t buy chocolate, you buy Cadbury.
* You don’t buy MP3 players, you buy an iPod.
* You don’t buy a Smartphone, you buy an iPhone.
The employees of Apple are not content with being the leader in sales alone, they want to own the market itself, which explains why they’ve engineered iTunes as the major music provider that it is, and why the iPad, having the luxury of being the first, has now set the trend for future tablet devices. From here on out, everything will be compared to the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and iTunes. The iPhone wasn’t the first phone, but they engineered it to be so unique that you couldn’t help but think it was. The iMac isn’t the first all in one, but it became the only one that mattered.

* Various employee blogs for Apple


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