Year Up

By David Dodson, Ryan Kissick
2015 | Case No. E545 | Length 10 pgs.

The Year Up case deals with two ubiquitous issues that arise when managing a growing enterprise: an organization will outgrow systems; and it will outgrow employees.  Year Up, led by CEO Gerald Chertavian, provided education, training, and job opportunities to low-income young adults in urban areas across the United States.  Starting in a single Boston site with five staff and 22 students in 2000, Year Up served more than 1,400 students across ten U.S. cities by the middle of 2012.

The case itself is divided into three separate but related vignettes.  The first vignette deals with the promotion/transfer of an employee to Year Up’s New York office.  However, the employee was overpaid (vis-à-vis comparable positions), and the site manager did not want to pay 25 percent more for that employee.  Beyond the issue of the specific promotion/transfer, Chertavian had to deal with a legacy that may involve communication to employees, putting in place a new system, and how to transition/grandfather existing employees.

In the second vignette, Year Up had outgrown an employee, but there was still a role in the organization for this particular person.  This happens often with fast-growing organizations, and the question is not only how to deal with this immediate problem, but also what culture and systems to put in place to provide for what is likely to be an ongoing issue.

In the third vignette, the company realized that its 360-evaluation process no longer worked as the company grew.  The system did not scale with the organization, and now Chertavian had a mess on his hands.  On the one hand, he needed to put out a fire with a particular employee.  But beyond that, Chertavian had to figure out what to do with the process going forward.

Learning Objective

The case focuses on three key learning objectives: 1) Learning how to enhance outdated systems in a growing organization (e.g., employee transfer policies, 360-evaluation processes); 2) Learning how to manage employees who cannot grow as quickly as their roles demand; 3) Role playing difficult conversations with employees.
This material is available for download by current Stanford GSB students, faculty, and staff only. For inquires, contact the Case Writing Office. Download