Organizational Behavior

02 Sep

Case Study 1

A unique Training Program at UPS

Mark Colvard, a United Parcel Manager in San Ramon, California, recently faced a difficult decision. One of his drivers asked for 2 week off to help an ailing family member. But company rules said this driver wasn’t eligible. If Colvard went by the book, the driver would probably take the days off anyway and be fired. On the other hand, Colvard chose to give the driver the time off. Although he took some heat for the decision, he also kept a valuable employee.

Had Colvard been faced with this decision 6 months earlier, he says he would have gone the other way. What changed his thinking was a month he spent living in McAllen, Texas. It was part of a UPS management training experience called the Community Internship Program (CIP). During his month in McAllen, Colvard built housing for the poor, collected clothing for the Salvation Army, and worked in a drug rehab Center. Colvard gives the program credit for helping him empathize with employees facing crises back home. And he says that CIP has made him a better manager. “My goal was to make the numbers, and in some cases that meant not looking at the individual but looking at the bottom line. After that one month stay, I Immediately started reaching out to people in a different way.”

CIP was established by UPS in the late 1960s to help open the eyes of the company’s predominantly white managers to the poverty and inequality in many cities. Today, the program takes 50 of the company’s most promising executives each summer and brings them to cities around the country. There they deal with a variety of problems from transportation to housing, education, and health care. The company’s goal is to awaken these managers to the challenges that many of their employees face, bridging the cultural divide that separates a white manager from an African American driver or an upper-income suburbanite from a worker raised in the rural South.

1. Do you think individuals can learn empathy from something like a 1-month CIP experience? Explain why or why not.

2. How could UPS’s CIP help the organization better manage work life conflicts?

3. How could UPS’s CIP help the Organization improve its response to diversity?

4. What negatives, if any can you envision resulting from CIP?

5. UPS has 2,400 managers. CIP includes only 50 each year. How can the program make a difference if it include only 2 percent of all managers? Does this suggest that the program is more public relations than management training?

6. How can UPS justify the cost of a program like CIP if competitors like FedEx, DHL, and the U.S. Postal Service don’t offer such programs? Does the program increase costs or reduce UPS profits?


Case Study 2

Are Workplace Romances Unethical

A large percentage of married individuals first met in the workplace. A 2005 survey reveled that 58 percent of all employees have been in an office romance. Given the amount of time people spend at work, this isn’t terribly surprising. Yet office romances pose sensitive ethical issues for organizations and employees. What rights and responsibilities do organizations have to regulate the romantic lives of their employees?

Take the case of former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and Suzy Wetlaufer. The two met while Wetlaufer was interviewing Welch for Harvard Business Review article, and Welch was still married. Once their relationship was out in the open, some accused Wetlaufer of being unethical for refusing to disclose the relationship while working on the article. She eventually left the journal. Other accused Welch of letting his personal life get in the way of the interest of GE and its shareholders. Some even blamed the scandal for a drop in GE stock.

Welch and Wetlaufer didn’t even work for the same company. What about when two people work together in the same work unit? Chicago advertising firm, started dating Kevin, one of her account supervisors. Their innocent banter turned into going out for drinks, and then dinner, and soon they were dating. Kevin and Tasha’s bosses were in house competitors. The problem: Sometimes in meetings Kevin would make it seem that Tasha and Kevin were on the same side of important issues even when they weren’t. In response, Tasha’s boss began to isolate her from key projects. Tasha said, “I remember times when I would be there all night photocopying hundreds of pages of my work to show that [Kevin’s] allegations [of her incompetence] were unfounded. It was just embarrassing because it became a question of my professional judgment. ”

These examples show that while workplace romances are personal matters, it’s hard to keep them out of the political complexities of organizational life.

1. Do you think organizations should have policies governing workplace romances? What would such policies stipulate?

2. Do you think romantic relationships would distract two employees from performing their jobs? Why or why not?

3. Is it ever appropriate for a supervisor to romantically pursue a subordinate under his or her supervision? Why or why not?

4. Some companies like Nike and Southwest Airlines openly try to recruit couples. Do you think this is a good idea? How would you feel working in a department with a “couple”?


Case Study 3

GE’s Work-Out

General Electric established its worked process in the early 1990s. it continues to be a mainstay in GE’s efforts to has also been adopted by such divers organizations as General Motors, Home Depot, Frito-Lay, L.L. Bean, Sears, IBM, and the World Bank.

The impetus for the Work- Out was the belief by GE’s CEO that the company’s culture was too bureaucratic and slow to respond to change. He wanted to create a vehicle that would effectively engage and empower GE workers.

Essentially, Work-Out brings together employees and managers from many different functions and levels within an organization for an informal 3-day meeting to discuss and solve problems that have been identified by employees or senior management. Set into small teams, people are encouraged to challenge prevailing assumptions about “the way we have always done things” and develop recommendations for significant improvements in organizational processes. The Work-Out teams then present their recommendations to a senior manager in a public gathering called a Town Meeting.

At the town Meeting, the manager in charge oversees a discussion about the recommendation and then is required to make a yes-or-no decision on the spot. Only in unusual circumstances can a recommendation be tabled for further study. Recommendations that are accepted are assigned to managers who have volunteered to carry them out. Typically, a recommendation will move from inception in 90 days or less. The logic behind the Work-Out is to identify problems, stimulate divers input, and provide a mechanism for speedy decision and action.

More recently GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt has extended the Work-Out concept to build capabilities in anticipating future technologies and engage in long range planning. GE wants all its managers to be adept at the kind of strategic thinking that most companies entrust only to senior management. For example, GE is offering managers new classes focused on learning how to create new lines of business.

1. What type of change process would you call this? Explain.

2. Why should it work?

3. What negative consequences do you think might result from this process?

4. Why so you think new GE CEO Jeff Immelt has revised the Work-Out concept?

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