Organizational Behavior

02 Sep

CASE: I    Diana’s Disappointment: The Promotion Stumbling Block

Diana Gillen had an uneasy feeling of apprehension as she arrived at the Cobb Street Grille corporate offices. Today she was meeting with her supervisor, Julie Spencer, and regional director, Tom Miner, to learn the outcome of her promotion interview for the district manager position. Diana had been employed by this casual dining restaurant chain for 12 years and had worked her way up from waitress to general manager. Based on her track record, she was the obvious choice for the promotion; and her friends assured her that her interview process was merely a formality. Diana was still anxious, though, and feared that the news might not be positive. She knew she was more than qualified for the job, but that didn’t guarantee anything these days.

Nine months ago, when Diana interviewed for the last district manager opening, she thought her selection for the job was inevitable. She was shocked when that didn’t happen. Diana was so upset about not getting promoted then that she initially decided not to apply for the current opening. She eventually changed her mind—afterall, the company had just named her “restaurant manager of the year” and trusted her with managing their flagship location. Diana thought her chances had to be really good this time.

A multi-unit management position was desirable move up for any general manager and was a goal to which Diana had aspired since she began working in the industry. When she had not been promoted the last time, Julie, her supervisor, explained that her people skills needed to improve. But Diana knew that explanation had little to do with why she hadn’t gotten the job—the real reason was corporate politics. She heard that the person they hired was some superstar from the outside—a district manager from another restaurant company who supposedly had strong multi-unit management experience and a proven track record of developing restaurant managers. Despite what she was told, she was convinced that Tom, her regional manager, had been unduly pressured to hire this person, who had been referred by the CEO.

The decision to hire the outsider may have impressed the CEO, but it enraged Diana. With her successful track record as a store manager for the Cobb Street Grille, she was much more capable, in her opinion, of overseeing multiple units than someone who was new to the operation. Besides, district managers had always been promoted internally from among the store managers, and she was unofficially designated as the next one to move up to a district position. Tom had hired the outside candidate as a political maneuver to put himself in a good light with management, even though it meant overlooking a loyal employee lime her in the process. Diana had no patience with people who made business decisions for the wrong reasons. She worked very hard to avoid politics and it especially irritated her when the political actions of others negatively impacted her.

Diana was ready to be a district manager nine months ago, and she thought she was even more qualified today—provided the decision was based on performance. She ran a tight ship, managing her restaurant completely by the book. She meticulously controlled expenses. Her sales were growing, in spite of new competition in the market, and she received relatively few customer complaints. The only number that was a little out of line was the higher turnover among her staff.

Diana was not too concerned about the increasing number of terminations, however; there was a perfectly logical explanation for this. It was because she had high standards for both herself and her employees. Any

Who delivered less than 110 percent at all times would be better off finding a job somewhere else. Diana didn’t think she should bend the rules for anyone, for whatever reason. A few months ago, for example, she had to fire three otherwise good employees who decided to try a new customer service tactic-a so-called innovation they dreamed up-rather than complying with the established process. As the general manager, it was her responsibility to make sure that the restaurant was managed strictly in accordance with the operations manual, and she could not allow deviations. This by-the-book approach to managing had served her well for many years. It got her promoted in the past, and she was not about to jinx that now. Losing a few employees now and then—particularly those who had difficulty following the rules—was simply the cost of doing business.

During a recent store visit Julie suggested that Diana might try creating a friendlier work environment because she seemed aloof and interacted with employees somewhat mechanically. Julie even told her that she overheard employees refer to Diana as the “ice maiden” behind her back. Diana was surprised that Julie brought this up because her boss rarely criticized her. They had an unspoken agreement: Because Diana was so technically competent and always met her financial targets, Julie didn’t need to give her much input. Diana was happy to be left alone to run her restaurant without needless advice.

At any rate, Diana rarely paid attention to what employees said about her. She wasn’t about to let something as childish as a silly name cause her to modify a successful management strategy. What’s more, even though she had recently lost more than the average number of employees due to “personality differences” or “miscommunications” over her directives, her superiors did not seem to mind when she consistently delivered strong bottom-line results every month.

As she waited in the conference room for the others, Diana worried that she was not going to get this promotion. Julie had sounded different in the voicemail message she left to inform her about this meeting, but Diana couldn’t put her finger on exactly what it was. She would be very angry if she was passed over again and wondered what excuse they would have this time. Then her mind wandered to how her employees would respond to her if she did not get the promotion. They all knew how much she wanted the job, and she cringed at how embarrassed she would be if she didn’t get it. Her eyes began to mist over at the sheer thought of having to face them if she was not promoted today.

Julie and Tom entered the room then, and the meeting started. They told Diana, as kindly as they could, that she would not be promoted at this time; one of her colleagues would become the new district manager. She was incredulous. The individual who got promoted had been with the company only three years—and Diana had trained her! She tried to comprehend how this happened, but it did not make sense. Before any further explanation could be offered, she burst into tears and left the room. As she tried in vain to regain her composure, Diana was overcome with crushing disappointment.


1. Within the framework of the emotional intelligence domains of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, discuss the various factors that might have to led to Diana’s failure to be promoted.

2. What competencies does Diana need to develop to be promotable in the future? What can the company do to support her developmental efforts?


CASE: II    Buddy’s Snack Company

Buddy’s Snack Company is a family-owned company located in the Rocky Mountains. Buddy Forest started the business in 1951 by selling home-made potato chips out of the back of his pickup truck. Nowadays Buddy’s in a $36 million snack food company that is struggling to regain market lost to Frito-Lay and other fierce competitors. In the early eighties Buddy passed the business to his son, Buddy Jr., who is currently grooming his son, Mark, to succeed himself as head of the company.

Six months ago Mark joined Buddy’s Snacks as a salesperson, and after four months he quickly promoted to sales manager. Mark recently graduated from a local university with an MBA in marketing, and Buddy Jr. was hoping that Mark would be able to implement strategies that could help turn the company around. One of Mark’s initial strategies was to introduce a new sales performance management system. As part of this approach, any salesperson who receives a below average performance rating would be required to attend a mandatory coaching session with his or her supervisor. Mark Forest is hoping that these coaching sessions will motivate employees to increase their sales. This case describes the reaction of three salespeople who have been required to attend a coaching session because of their low performance over the previous quarter.

Lynda Lewis

Lynda is a hard worker, who takes pride in her work ethic. She has spent a lot of time reading the training material and learning selling techniques, viewing training videos or her own time, and accompanying top salespeople on their calls. Lynda has no problem asking for advice and doing whatever needs to be done to learn the business. Everyone agrees that Lynda has a cheery attitude and is a real “team player,” giving the company 150 percent at all times. It has been a tough quarter for Lynda due to the downturn in the economy, but she is doing her best to make quota during this past quarter is not to lack of effort, but just bad luck in the economy. She is hopeful that things will turn around in the next quarter.

Lynda is upset with Mark about having to attend the coaching session because this is the first time in three years that her sales quota has not been met. Although Lynda is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, she is concerned that the coaching sessions will be held on a Saturday. Doesn’t Mark realize that Lynda has to raise three boys by herself and that weekends are an important time for her family? Because Lynda is a dedicated employee, she will somehow manage to rearrange the family’s schedule.

Lynda is now very concerned about how her efforts are being perceived by Mark. After all, she exceeded the sales quota for the previous quarter, yet she did not receive thanks or congratulation for those efforts. The entire experience has left Lynda unmotivated and questioning her future with the company.

Michael Benjamin

Michael is happy to have his job at Buddy’s Snack Company, although he really doesn’t like sales work that much. Michael accepted this position because he felt that he wouldn’t have to work hard and would have a lot of free time during the day. Michael was sent to coaching mainly because his customer satisfaction reports were low; in fact, they were the lowest in the company. Michael tends to give canned presentations and does not listen closely to the customer’s needs. Consequently, Michael makes numerous errors in new sales orders, which delay shipments and lose business and goodwill for Buddy’s Snack Company. Michael doesn’t really care because most of his customers do not spend much money, and he doesn’t think it is worth his while.

There has been a recent change in the company commission structure. Instead of selling to the warehouse stores and possibly earning a high commission, Michael is now forced to sell to lower-volume convenience stores. In other words, he will have to sell twice as much product to earn the same amount of money. Michael does not think this change in commission is fair, and he feels that the coaching session will be waste of time. He believes that the other members of the sales team are getting all the good leads, and that is why they are so successful. Michael doesn’t socialize with others in the office and attributes others’ success and promotions to “whom they know” in the company rather than the fact that they are hard workers. He thinks that no matter how much effort is put into the job, he will never be adequately rewarded.

Kyle Sherbo

For three of the last five years Kyle was the number one salesperson in the division and had hopes of being promoted to sales manager. When Mark joined the company, Kyle worked closely with Buddy Jr. to help Mark learn all facets of the business. Kyle thought this close relationship with Buddy Jr. would assure his upcoming promotion to the coveted position of sales manager, and he was devastated to learn that Mark received the promotion that he thought was his.

During the past quarter there was a noticeable change in Kyle’s work habits. It has become commonplace for Kyle to be late for appointments or miss them entirely, not return phone calls, and not follow up on leads. His sales performance declined dramatically, which resulted in a drastic loss of income. Although Kyle had been dedicated and fiercely loyal to Buddy Jr. and the company for many years, he is now looking for other employment. Buddy’s Snack is located in a rural community, which leaves Kyle with limited job opportunities. He was, however, offered a position as a sales manager with a competing company in a larger town, but Kyle’s wife refuses to leave the area because of her strong family ties. Kyle is bitter and resentful of his current situation and now faces a mandatory coaching session that will be conducted by Mark.


1. You have met three employees of Buddy’s Snacks. Explain how each employee’s situation relates to equity theory.

2. Explain the motivation of these three employees in terms of the expectancy theory of motivation.


CASE: III    Sabeer Bhatia: An Icon Of Creativity

Sabeer Bhatia, the co-founder of Hotmail is the recipient of the ‘TR 100” award presented by MIT to 100 young innovators who are expected to have the greatest impact on technology in the next few years. He has won several laurels—‘Elite 100’ list of top trendsetters in the New Economy by Upside Magazine, ‘People to watch’ in International Business by TIME (2002), ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ by a venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (1997), and one of the ten most successful entrepreneurs by San Jose Mercury News and POV magazine (1998).

One needs to know what has gone into making him a highly creative person. Born in Chandigarh, India, he completed his early schooling at Bangalore, in schools with ethical values. His parents were both professionals; father, Baldev, a senior officer in Ministry of Defense, and mother, Daman, a senior official in the Central Bank of India, who attracted great value to education. He has been a brilliant student who would solve problems on the blackboard. He was a perfectionist and would feel miserable if he was unable to write everything he knew in his answer book during an exam, due to limited time. He has also been entrepreneurial during his school days and once opened a sandwich shop.

He joined the Birla Institute of Technology, which he left to study at California Institute of after winning full scholarship. He completed his masters from Stanford University and joined Apple, where he worked for nine months. He had an urge to do something unique using the net, and he came up with javasoft—a method of using the web to create a personal database, where people could preserve their personal things. He shared his plan with his colleague Jack Smith, who suggested to e-mail to javasoft. Bhatia worked the whole night to develop the business plan. The two tried various options and came up with ‘Hotmail’ as their final choice, and a brand was launched in 1995. After a year, Microsoft approached them, and Hotmail was sold to Microsoft for $400 million. Bhatia worked with Microsoft for a year, and has launched two more products: Arzoo and BlogEverywhere. From the above account it is obvious that Sabeer Bhatia is brilliant, persistent, and innovative, and has scientific and technical knowledge. His friends find him “persistent, focused and disciplined”. To top it all, he is a perfectionist and entrepreneurial at heart. He has an unquenching desire to create new ventures, and bubbles with new ideas. He feels Indian IT companies can be more creative. Creativity seems to be his motivation in life; he is still single.


1. What competencies are needed to be creative?

2. Identify methods through which creativity can be nurtured.


CASE: IV    Women Leaders In The Corporate World

There are not many women in the position of leadership in corporate India.

The growth of women in the corporate world has been slow, probably due to the glass ceiling and role stereotypes. Barring a few females who have made it to the top, others have only reached till the middle/senior level of management. Family and social support and education level are important factors for leadership in the business world. Besides, family has priority over career for women in India. Thus, few women cut through all the barriers and reach the top. One such example is Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairperson and Managing Director, The Hongkong and Shanghai Corporation’s (HSBC) investment banking and securities business in India. According to her, in India, “There is an extended family of mothers, sisters, and mothers-in-law ready to step in along with the easily available domestic help. However, despite these advantages in the urban class in India, women are only now entering the corporate world.” (Emmons, 2004)

A graduate from HBS, Naina joined ANZ Grindlays Bank in India in 1982. Having done her stints in a variety of jobs in merchant, retail and investment banking, she moved to Morgan and Stanley in 1994 to manage its operations in India. She has been a high achiever throughout. Naina was ranked 3rd by Fortune Magazine in their maiden list of the world’s top women in business in Asia (2000), and later it placed her among the top 50 Women in Business in three successive years 2001, 2002, and 2003. Time Magazine selected her as one of 2002’s fifteen emerging ‘Global Influentials’. She is Chairperson of various committees of Industry Associations, and is on the Governing Body of National Council of Applied Manpower Research as a member. She is also Director, International Board of Digital Partners Foundation, USA. Naina is not only successful in professional life, but in her personal life too; she is married with two children.


1. What are the barriers for women to become corporate leaders?

2. What competencies are needed by women to succeed in corporate life?


CASE: V    The Excellent Employee

Emily, who had the reputation of being an excellent worker, was a machine operator in a furniture manufacturing plant that had been growing at a rate of between 15 percent and 20 percent each year for the past decade. New additions were built onto the plant, new plants opened in the region, workers hired, new product lines developed – lots of expansion – but with no significant change in overall approaches to operations, plant layout, ways of managing workers, or design processes. Plant operations as well as organizational culture were rooted in traditional Western management practices and logic, based largely on the notion of mass production and economies of scale. Over the past four years the company had grown in number and variety of products and in market penetration; however, profitability was flattening and showing signs of decline. As a result, managers were beginning to focus on production operations (internal focus) rather than mainly focusing on new market strategies, new products, and new market segments (external focus) in developing their strategic plans. They hoped to reduce manufacturing costs, improving consistency of quality and ability to meet delivery times better while decreasing inventory and increasing flexibility.

One of several new programs initiated by managers in this effort to improve flexibility and lower costs was to get workers cross-trained. However, when a representative from Human Resources explained this program to Emily’s supervisor, Jim, he reluctantly agreed to cross-train most of his workers, but not Emily.

Jim explained to the Human Resources person that Emily worked on a machine that was very complex and not easy to effectively operate. She had to “babysit” it much of the time. He had tried to train many workers on it, but Emily was the only person who could consistently get products through the machine that were within specifications and still meet production schedules. When anyone else tried to operate the machine, which performed a key function in the manufacturing process, it ended up either being a big bottleneck or producing excessive waste, which create a lot of trouble for Jim.

Jim went on to explain that Emily knew this sophisticated and complicated machine inside and out; she had been running it for five years. She liked the challenge, and she said it made the day go by faster, too. She was meticulous in her work-a skilled employee who really cared about the quality of her work. Jim told the HR person that he wished all of his workers were like Emily. In spite of difficulty of running this machine, Emily could run it so well that product piled up at the next workstation in the production process, which couldn’t keep up with her!

Jim was adamant about keeping Emily on this machine and not cross-training her. The HR was frustrated. He could see Jim’s point, but he had to follow executive orders: “Get these people cross-trained.”

Around the same time a University student was doing a field study in the section of the plant where Emily worked, and Emily was one of the workers he interviewed. Emily told the student that in spite of the fact that the plant had some problems with employee morale and excessive employee turn-over, she really liked working there. She liked the piece-rate pay system and hoped she did not have to participate in the recent “program of the month,” which was having operators learn each other’s jobs. She told the student that it would just create more waste if they tried to have other employees run her machine. She told him that other employees had tried to learn how to operate her machine but couldn’t do it as well as she could.

Emily seemed to like the student and began to open up to him. She told him that her machine really didn’t need to be so difficult and touchy to operate: With a couple of minor design changes in the machine and better maintenance, virtually anyone could run it. She had tried to explain this to her supervisor a couple of years ago, but he just told her to “do her work and leave operations to the manufacturing engineers.” She also said that if workers upstream in the process would spend a little more time and care to keep the raw material in slightly tighter specifications, it would go through her machine much more easily; but they were too focused on speed and making more piece-rate pay. She expressed a lack of respect for the managers who couldn’t see this and even joked about how “managers didn’t know anything.”


1. Identify the sources of resistance to change in this case.

2. Discuss whether this resistance is justified or could be overcome.

3. Recommend ways to minimize resistance to change in this incident or in future incidents.

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