Challenges of Organizational Leadership


The CH2M HILL case illustrates the challenges faced by an organization with historical significance in engineering, service, and consulting industry. Accordingly, the analysis represents the main challenges faced as exceptionally high voluntary turnover and lack of qualified employees for vacant positions in the high ranks (Newman, 2013). The issue of voluntary job loss became a dominant challenge in the CH2M HILL organization’s operations and threatened the company’s future. The second challenge was the inadequate skills and competence of the internal staff to take over senior positions, a situation that required long lasting solutions. The case indicated that some senior positions lacked occupants for as many as twenty-five months, as no competent persons would be found in the internal ranks. Therefore, with the two problems posing a serious hindrance to the operations of the company, a solution had to be sought (Newman, 2013). Although the organization is considered a career employer, less than 25% of the top management in 2012 had been promoted internally. As a result, Walstrom was hired to reconstruct the processes and systems for career development and to improve worker retention rates. Consequently, Walstrom had to determine and take the most appropriate steps towards addressing the short and long term challenges.

The Challenges of Organizational Leadership Faced by CH2M HILL

The operations of the CH2M HILL dated back to 1946 when an Oregon State University engineering professor teamed up with three of his earlier students to form the company. In fact, the firm would later rise to command a global influence in the construction, consultation, and engineering fields. The corporation realized a steady growth through expansion of operations and by acquisitions. In fact, the CH2M HILL as a potential employer maintained the culture of retaining employees as long as they stayed engaged and productive in the company. In fact, junior workers would be vetted to take over senior positions in the management instead of attracting new talents from outside the firm. Worth appreciating is that before the 1990s, the CH2M HILL Company had employee-centered and family-like cultures (Newman, 2013). The firm was also completely employee-owned until the administration decided to invest in acquisitions and takeovers. Throughout the time, the company engineers as against external managers inherently run the firm’s operations. However, the subsequent growth that ensued from acquisitions resulted in the hiring of managers who allegedly lacked understanding of the company’s legacy.

Over the years, CH2M HILL neglected career development paths, which was the strength of the organization in the years before the mid-1990s. Consequently, the company started acquiring new employees for all positions from external sources. Indeed, such efforts created the unintended consequences of raising the rate of voluntary turnovers for the new employees. Moreover, the neglect on career development contributed to the lower transition rate of qualified internal candidates to take up higher leadership positions. Therefore, Walstrom had to address the rampant cases of increasing labor turnover as well as preparing the internal employees for taking up future responsibilities in the top management of the company.

Reasons of the High Turnover

The engagement survey indicated two main reasons behind the challenges of high rates of turnover. First, the company offered little career opportunities and less job satisfaction. Second, the lack of mentorship and coaching initiatives for the incoming employees made the majority struggle in adapting to the working condition of the company (Newman, 2013). Therefore, the young recruits derived no motivation to stick to the company. Other issues raised by the case concerning high turnover were the lack of job clarity and increased opportunities. In addition, the other dispute highlighted was few or no qualified persons from the internal system to take up leadership positions in the management portfolio (Newman, 2013). In essence, the manifestations of the problems were together with the turnover and the vacant positions that remained empty.

The appointment of Walstrom in the full capacity of restructuring the company while addressing the challenges was tactical. Indeed, she had the chance to act on enhancing diminished job autonomy and increase clarity for increased employee retention (Vlachos, Panagopoulos, & Rapp, 2013). Furthermore, she could invest in systems for orientation and mentorship for new employees as well as invest in career management with the aim of maintaining and guiding internal talent to fill the top positions (Allen & Shanock, 2013). Finally, as a leader, employing charismatic traits in the top management positions could improve the internal relations and hence enhance retention.

From a subjective point, I would invest in creating and harnessing relations within the organization. As noted in the case, the lack of a clear structure on the job meant that the employee would pursue different projects to secure a working opportunity. Therefore, by ensuring that I give the best and maintain the appropriate relations in the different organizational departments, then such initiative would ensure that I can manage my career. However, I could also consider challenging the management structure to impose the right systems to ensure that the members of staff did not feel stranded on the responsibilities and career growth. In essence, a perfect job description and right structures would work to harness the productivity of the workforce as well as ensure that employees are aware of their responsibilities and work expectations. 



Allen, D. G., & Shanock, L. R. (2013). Perceived organizational support and embeddedness as key mechanisms connecting socialization tactics to commitment and turnover among new employees. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(3), 350-369.

Newman, K. L. (2013). CH2M HILL: Reinventing organizational careers. Case Research Journal, 33(1), 93-115.

Vlachos, P. A., Panagopoulos, N. G., & Rapp, A. A. (2013). Feeling good by doing good: Employee CSR-induced attributions, job satisfaction, and the role of charismatic Leadership. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(3), 577-588.

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