Individual Case Study Report. A Change of Leadership Style within the "Lufthansa Technik" Using Expert Interviews and SWOT-Analysis
Two personnel developers and I formed a project team to address the problematic issue of increasing employee turnover in the past years. All the information and data provided by the company has been translated from German into English and was gathered in 2013.
The purpose of this report is to make recommendations to optimize the existing potential analysis tools of LHT. Executives were questioned about their beliefs and experiences using indepth interviews. Their opinions are integrated in the optimization process in order to produce a practical reference guide for identifying potential. I also use a SWOTanalysis to develop appropriate strategies by determining strengths and weaknesses and examining organisational behaviour (OB) factors. In addition, the statements of managers are analysed with regard to aspects of transformational leadership.
Table of Content
Organizational Background Problem Identification Expert-interviews The Interview Guide
Corporate-Management-Grading Critical Incident Technique (CIT) SWOT-analysis
SWOT-analysis based on Expert-Interviews Strengths
Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
Implications of the SWOT-analysis for organisational behaviour Role Model
Individual Development Communication
The following case study report is based on my personal experiences during a 6-month internship within the HR-Department of Lufthansa Technik AG (LHT). I worked in central personnel development, whose job is to provide systems and processes for succession, rotary and career planning and assist the managers in their role as the “first personnel developer” for their employees. Two personnel developers and I formed a project team to address the problematic issue of increasing employee turnover in the past years. All the information and data provided by the company has been translated from German into English and was gathered in 2013.
The purpose of this report is to make recommendations to optimize the existing potential analysis tools of LHT. Executives were questioned about their beliefs and experiences using indepth interviews. Their opinions are integrated in the optimization process in order to produce a practical reference guide for identifying potential. I also use a SWOT-analysis to develop appropriate strategies by determining strengths and weaknesses and examining organisational behaviour (OB) factors. In addition, the statements of managers are analysed with regard to aspects of transformational leadership.
The independent public limited company Lufthansa Technik AG was founded in 1994 as a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DLH). It is the controlling company of the Technik Group representing 55 companies. More than 750 airlines and other operators from the commercial aircraft industry use the services of the LHT in addition to the parent company DLH. Worldwide 26,000 people are employed in 30 other operating subsidiaries, of which approximately 7,500 are employed in Hamburg, the company headquarters, centre of competence and control centre of Lufthansa Technik. Hamburg is the main location for the maintenance of aircraft overhaul, basic equipment, engine and equipment inspection, logistics centre and the development and manufacturing operations.
In 2012 and 2013 a large number of LHT employees terminated their contracts in order to work for the competing Airbus S.A.S., which also has its German headquarters in Hamburg. To understand why this was happening the HR-Department conducted exit-interviews with the employees leaving the company. It was concluded that employees might have a different selfperception and a biased view on the events leading to their termination. Therefore, interviews were conducted with the responsible superior as well to gain a wider perspective. The exitanalysis detected three major reasons why employees left LHT:
1. Reduced personal and professional development
2. Lack of appreciation
3. Lack of care and interest of superiors in their subordinates.
Based on these new insights the HR-board commissioned the HR-department to conduct indepth interviews with experts within the organization who can assess the situation more realistically because they have experienced it themselves The aim of these interviews was to examine attitudes, opinions, beliefs and values of the experts regarding the problematic situation of the LHT.
The expert-interviews took place between a Level C managers (see appendix A) as the expert and a personnel developer. The managers were considered as appropriate experts, as not only are they highly experienced in dealing with employees, but at the same time are still subject to superiors. They are characterised by their many years of service in the LHT (∅ 19.2 years) and their experience as executives. The final sample consisted of four experts, which were currently active in Hamburg whose ages ranged from 45 to 51 years. In order to gather a variety of perspectives, much emphasis was placed on a broad spread of departments (table 1).
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Table 1: Composition of the sample by age, position, joining date and years of service at the current position
The Interview Guide
The expert-interviews were supported by a semi-structured guideline, which consisted of several key questions (see appendix B). The questions were standardised but the response format allowed open answers in order to collect important qualitative data. The conduction of a fluent and open conversation was hoped to increase the chance of new insights. The interviewer’s role was to restrict the experts to issues of importance and the guideline helped to maintain the wording of the questions to keep the interference of the interviewer to a minimum.
The HR-Department had assumed that the problem of high turnover was caused by the poor selection of managers. Therefore, two sections of the interview guide were of critical importance. Firstly, the current potential analysis tool, the Corporate-Management-Grading (CMG), which served as the basis for the selection of future managers, had to be considered. Secondly, the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) was part of the interview guide to detect specific job demands for leaders.
The CMG (introduced in 2003) is a group-wide instrument of Deutsche Lufthansa AG used for the assessment of potential and performance of managers and their successors (beneath Management Level C). It is used in a standardised form, and serves as the basis for individual career planning as well as strategic succession planning within the company. It identifies and supports talent within the organization. The CMG is applied in the so called “potential conversation” that takes place once a year between supervisors and employees and is partially supported by a personnel developer. The long-term goal is to guarantee high performing executives in the senior management positions at Lufthansa. The CMG can be adjusted in order to promote a new leadership style better suited to the needs of the employees and the company.
Critical Incident Technique (CIT)
This method uses success-critical events to assess real behaviour in specific work situations and predict success or failure (Flanagan, 1954). The success-critical events chosen were those considered to be the most accurate predictors of managerial performance. The CIT process was included in the interview guide to identify specific requirements for executives. The designated behaviour is seen as another source for the analysis of core competencies.