JC Penney's People Strategy: Setting the Right Climate for Human Resource Development

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR274
Case Length : 16 pages
Period : 2004-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : JC Penney Corporation, Inc.
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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"We've been investing heavily in executive education and leadership training for our managers, strategic skills for our top people … we're very committed to being a great place to work, and we think the first thing [to] be a great place to work is [to be] a great place to investment your career. So we also think that'll have an advantage of changing, you know, lowering our turnover to the lowest in our industry."1

-Myron E (Mike) Ullman III, Chairman and CEO, JC Penney Corporation, Inc., in 2006.

"Today's emphasis on culture change is shifting from stemming the bleeding of the last five years to paying attention to broad cultural adaptations that will deliver a competitive advantage."2

-Batia Wiesenfeld, Professor of Management at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Setting the Right Climate

A few months after joining as chairman and CEO of JC Penney Corporation, Inc. (JCP) in December 2004, Myron E Ullman III (Ullman) unveiled a 'Long Term Plan' with the focus on taking JCP to the industry leadership level.3 One of the strategies to achieve this objective was to make JCP a great place to work in.

Ullman felt that there was a "correlation between engaged associates and store profitability."4,5 He understood that to achieve his ambitious objectives, he had to make JCP a great place to work in. Ullman explained, "The associates are the first customers we sell. If it doesn't ring true to them, it's impossible to communicate and inspire the customer."6

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Ullman wanted to build a customer-focused culture at JCP. But in trying to do so, he met with significant challenges. JCP was a company with a long tradition of more than 100 years.

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1] "J.C. Penney Q2 2006 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (JCP)," www.retail.seekingalpha.com, August 10, 2006.

2] Ellen Byron, "'Call Me Mike!'," www.wsjclassroomedition.com, April 3, 2006.

3] In 2005, Ullman unveiled the 'Long Range Plan' which JCP strove to achieve through a four-pronged strategy: make an emotional connection with the customer; make JCP an easy and exciting place to shop; make JCP a great place to work in; and, make JCP a leader in performance and execution.

4] JCP called its employees associates.

5] "J.C. Penney Q2 2006 Earnings Conference Call Transcript (JCP)," www.retail.seekingalpha.com, August 10, 2006.

6] Maria Halkias, "Penney Remakes Culture to Remake Image," www.dallasnews.com, February 13, 2007.

 

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