Maria Walker has been working inthe re s e arch and development department of asemiconductor manufacturing company employing 120staff. Because of her ‘good people skills’, Maria has recentlybeen asked to take on the role of human resources (HR)coordinator. Maria knows the job will be a challenge, butis very excited at this opportunity to advance her career.The HR coordinator she is to replace was not well likedand recently left the company under a cloud after givingmanagement poor advice. This coordinator was perceivedas a ‘nitpicker’ who would often challenge staff over trivial
issues. Company HR policies were interpreted literally andwithout any flexibility. For example, if a staff member wasonly five minutes late in coming back from lunch, theywould be reminded of the hours of work and break times,regardless of their performance.A number of other problems within the organization have added to the erosion of trust in management. Thefinal straw was the dismissal of a well-liked employee bythe previous HR coordinator. The general opinion amongthe other employees is that this staff member was poorlyt reated and should have been reinstated by seniormanagement. Staff felt angry and frustrated when thegeneral manager refused to meet with a deputation of staffover the dismissal. Since then, loyalties have been dividedand many staff support the former employee’s claim againstthe company for unfair dismissal.Quite apart from this latest issue, morale has beendeclining for some months. Last month a major contractwas lost when the contractor complained about poorquality of service and errors in re p o rting. T h e re isincreasing pressure from management for productivityimprovements, and this has caused fear among staff that
there may be job losses in the push for improved qualityand performance.Maria raised some of her concerns about the HRcoordinator’s position with the general manager when hefirst offered her the position. He said he had no choice butto support the former HR coordinator’s decision about the
dismissal, and staff were not aware of the full story. He alsotold Maria he wanted to ‘look to the future’ and wasprepared to give her a ‘free rein’ over a six-month trialperiod prior to making the appointment permanent. Thegeneral manager asked Maria to focus on setting upeffective HR strategies (including developing a code ofethics) to improve morale and achieve a ‘quality’ culture.
- Is this relationship of constructive conflict? Explain your answer?
- What kind of leadership would be help the general manager and Maria improve the environment and what would be the key elements they would need to consider?
Josh Martin, a 41-year old administrator at the Centre Street Settlement House, a
nonprofit social service agency with 70 employees and more than $6 million in assets, sat
pensively at his desk located outside the executive suite. He thought to himself, “No, it
can’t be. I can’t have been working here for 20 years. Where did the time go?”
Martin has spent his entire adult life working at the Centre Settlement House. He began
his career there immediately after graduating from college with a degree in economics
and very slowly climbed the narrow administrative ladder from his initial position as the
director of a government-funded project to his current position as the deputy agency
administrator. In addition, for the past five years, he has been serving as the president of
the agency’s for-profit construction company. He reports directly to Tom Saunders, the
autocratic executive director of the agency.
Martin, a competent administrator, often gets things done through his participative
leadership style. In the last few years, Martin’s job responsibilities have increased
exponentially. He fills many informational, decisional, and interpersonal managerial
roles for the agency. Six months ago, he was given the added responsibility of
processing invoices for agency vendors and consultants, authority he shares in common
with Saunders and the agency’s accountant.
Martin is rewarded handsomely for his role in the non-profit agency. Last year, he earned
$90,000, plus a liberal fringe benefits package that included an agency car, a pension
plan, a medical health plan (including dental), a month’s vacation, 15 paid holidays, and
unlimited sick time. Although he has received an annual cost-of-living allowance
(COLA), Martin has no written contractual agreement and essentially serves at the
pleasure of Saunders.
Martin pays a high personal price for his attractive compensation package. He is on-call
24 hours a day, complete with a beeper. Each Sunday morning, Martin attends a
mandatory agency strategy meeting required of all agency managers.
Over the years, Martin has tolerated Saunders’ erratic mood swings and his
inattentiveness to agency details. Tension between the two men reached a highpoint in
recent months. For example, two months ago, Martin called out sick because he was
suffering from a severe bout of the flu. Martin’s absence forced Saunders to cancel an
important meeting to supervise an agency fiscal audit. Saunders responded to Martin’s
absence in an irrational fashion by focusing on a small piece of tile missing from the
cafeteria floor. He screamed at two employees who were eating lunch in the cafeteria.
Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Page 3
“You see,” he said, “Martin doesn’t give a damn about anything in this agency. I always
have to make sure things get done around here. Just look at the floor! There’s a piece of
tile missing!” Mary Thompson and Elizabeth Duncan, two veteran employees, seemed
shocked by Saunders’ reaction to the missing piece of title. As Saunders stormed out of
the cafeteria throwing his hands in the air, Mary turned to Elizabeth and whispered,
“Saunders is really going off the deep end. Without Josh nothing would get done around
here. I don’t see how Saunders can blame Josh for every little problem. I wonder how
long Josh can take this unfair treatment.” Elizabeth nodded her head in agreement.
A month after this incident, Martin recommended pay increases for two employees who
had received excellent performance appraisals by their supervisors. Martin believed that
a two percent raise, admittedly only a symbolic raise, would provide motivation, would
increase morale, and would not seriously jeopardize the agency’s budget. When Martin
proposed his recommendations for employee raises to Saunders at the Thursday weekly
fiscal meeting, Saunders vehemently rejected Martin’s proposal and countered it by
ranting: “everybody wants a raise around here. It’s about time people started doing more
work and stopped whining about money. Let’s move on to the next agenda item.”
Saunders closed the weekly staff meeting by saying “I’m the leader of this agency. I
have to manage everything for this agency to run effectively.” Phil Jones, the director of
field operations, turned to Paul Lindstrom, the fiscal officer, and whispered, “Sure,
Saunders is the director of this agency alright, but he couldn’t manage his way out of a
paper bag. Without Josh, this place would be in total chaos. Besides, at least Josh listens
to us and tries to implement some of our ideas to make life simpler around here.”
Martin has often contemplated resigning from the agency to seek other public sector
employment. However, he believes such opportunities are rare since he is a middle-aged,
white male. Besides, Saunders knows just about every agency CEO in the public sector.
Martin believes that Saunders would find out that he applied for a job as soon as his
resume reached an agency personnel department. Moreover, Martin feels that his long
tenure with the agency may be detrimental; most prospective employers would be
suspicious of his motives for leaving the settlement house after some two decades of
service. Martin mused, “Perhaps, I stayed too long at the dance.” Finally, given the
present economic conditions in the state, many public sector agencies would be reluctant
to match his salary and benefits package—at least not in his first few years of service.
Martin is uncertain of his options at this point. On a personal note, although his wife is
gainfully employed and possesses good technical skills and experience in the printing
industry, Martin still needs to maintain his present standard of living to support his
family, including his two college-age daughters, a $100,000 mortgage on his home, and
other financial obligations. He has significant nonprofit and for profit experience and
excellent managerial and leadership skills. Yet, he wonders if there is any way out of his
- Considering all the organizational behavior subjects ( text book ), which one are applicable to this case . Be sure to briefly justify why you think each subject you list is relevant?P(5.u)
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