Case analysis: Two Tough Calls (A)

This is a case analysis with my good friend Kristian Jewel Taiño of De La Salle University taking up MBA.

Background and Facts of the Case

The speaker in the case is a woman and currently a program manager of an on-line merchant company selling different products. This company was said to have started by ex-Microsoft people from which explains the company policies and culture. The company has a performance rating system in which when an employee receives a 2.5, as four being the highest, that employee is subjected to performance improvement plan (PIP) which is really a venue for firing off an employee. The company also implements a bell curve system in evaluating employees, where a 30-40-30 sharing is enforced. The manager has a dilemma about the two weakest links in her group, namely Terry and Phil.

Terry is a poor performer and a poor contributor in her group. In addition, Terry does not have any analytic skills as needed in her group. However, Terry was easily hired due to his connections with the company’s top management individuals for being their scuba instructor. The hiring process requires five approvals of different department heads. However, Terry received not a single recommendation to be hired but was still hired. The speaker manager plans to give Terry a 2.5 mark but got a lot of comments from top management for the given score. In addition, she was being questioned for her management skills as a result for Terry’s poor score. The speaker is concerned on the reasons why the top management is questioning her which will result to poor records for hiring a failure employee. Another concern was that the speaker knew that Terry keeps a gun in his car as a sport.

Phil was also a poor performer due to his background as a call center manager from the previous company that was brought in. The speaker’s group is technical in specialization and Phil struggles to perform in the group. However, the speaker feels that Phil was not completely hopeless which she originally plans to give Phil a 2.5 on the next review. In addition, the speaker’s boss has a personal vendetta against Phil, due to a number of times Phil inappropriately challenged the speaker’s boss. In an unforeseen scenario before the review period, Phil was diagnosed with liver cancer. Phil has a family to support with a little girl. Phil was confined to a hospital and was supported by the speaker’s group by visiting and helping Phil in his gardening. By the time Phil recovered and went back to work, his performance just got worse. Then there was this policy in the company that if an employee don’t gets promoted for three years then that employee is fired, but Phil was already six years in the company and does not have any promotions. Phil expects form the speaker that he will be promoted in the next review.

Again, the dilemma is for the speaker of the case to fire Terry and Phil from the company due to their poor performance.

Identification of Symptoms

• Both Terry and Phil are poor performers in the speaker’s group only and not entirely in the whole company.
• Both Terry and Phil are poor performers due to non alignment of skills and job requirements in the speaker’s group even with the supervisions and counseling of the speaker.
• The speaker feels that the only and easy way to address the problem is to fire both Terry and Phil.
• One of the reasons for the non alignment of skills to the job requirement of Terry and Phil was due to flawed hiring policy of HR.
o Terry has gone through to the regular hiring process by interview but was hired due to personal connections with high ranking officers in the company
o Phil was absorbed by the company due to an acquisition
• The speaker is having a hard time in firing Terry and Phil due to the knowledge of their personal life and the possible scenarios for the firing them.
o Terry have connections with top management and the fact that Terry owns a gun which he stores in his car. The speaker fears that Terry might be hysterical for being fired.
o Phil is recommended to be fired by the biased reason of her boss. The speaker also considers that Phil’s unemployment will greatly affect his support to his family and little girl.

Problem Statement

What should the speaker of the case do to Terry and Phil’s current poor performance in her group and what could be done in improving the current flaws in the HR practices of the company?

Ethical Problems

• The company is not fair in the hiring process of employees and is influenced by associations and connections as in the case of Terry.
• The company is not fair in designating employees to their proper job specialization due to company acquisitions; as in the case of Phil.
• The boss of the speaker is not fair in recommending a poor performance only due to personal reasons; as in the case of Phil.
• The speaker is commendable in knowing the personal information and issues of her employees such as Terry and Phil, but must not be completely affected indecision making.

Problem Analysis

The solution of the problem must address the reasons for the poor performances of both Terry and Phil. The solution of the problem must also address the current flawed company policy.

Alternative Courses of Action

ACA # 1: The speaker must review the competence and skills of both Terry and Phil in order to recommend to other departments that matches their competency by job mapping.

Pros:
 The speaker will get rid of the poor performers in her group and be a more efficient group in the company.
 Both Terry and Phil will be assigned in their proper job specialization.

Cons:
 The Company may not have the available position for both Terry and Phil’s competency.
 The company may not have the available opening in the departments and may produce job redundancy.
 Both may be resistant to change.
CASE ON: TWO TOUGH CALLS (A) CASE OCTOBER 18, 2012
BY: Marvin Martinez and Kristian Jewel Taiño

ACA #2: The speaker must give both Terry and Phil the necessary formal trainings in order to develop the necessary skills needed in the speaker’s group.

Pros:

 Both Terry and Phil will gain the required skills and knowledge needed in the group.
 The speaker will not have the cause of delays in her group when the two are in trainings.
 Both Terry and Phil will be able to keep their jobs.

Cons:

 The training will take time and additional resources (budget) for both Terry and Phil.
 The two will require additional time in transition period in order to fully implement their trainings.
 The company may not have the necessary HR policy for training.
 Both may be resistant to change
 May not guarantee effectiveness in the job

ACA # 3: The speaker should fire both Terry and Phil due to the hard facts of poor performances and as hindrances in the group.

Pros:

 The speaker will get rid of the poor performers in her group and be more efficient group in the company.
 The company will get rid of employees that were not hired properly.

Cons:

 The speaker may get in trouble by the officers that hired Terry.
 The company may have legal problems for being biased in firing Phil due to personal reasons of the speaker’s boss.
CASE ON: TWO TOUGH CALLS (A) CASE OCTOBER 18, 2012
BY: Marvin Martinez and Kristian Jewel Taiño

ACA # 4: The speaker should implement and assign a buddy system for both Terry and Phil in order to supervise and counsel the two in their job and performance in the group.

Pros:

 The company will not need additional resources and time in trainings and formal job assessments.
 The speaker will have an effective and efficient group in the future.

Cons:

 The group will compensate and may reduce the efficiency due to the manpower assigned as buddy to both Terry and Phil.
 The transition and learning period for both will take time for the group.

Recommendations

Based on the group’s analysis, it has been agreed that ACA #2 : “The speaker must give both Terry and Phil the necessary formal trainings in order to develop the necessary skills needed in the speaker’s group”, is the appropriate solution for the case problem.

The formal training will be the better performance measure to the flawed systems in hiring both Terry and Phil. The result of the formal training will be documented and can be used as an unbiased reference for the future of the two employees. In addition, the formal training will be considered as a second chance for the two. The formal training will be the compensating and correcting program for the flawed hiring system of the company.

However, a certain amount of time and resources will be needed for the formal training of the two.

Action Plans

• The speaker of the case will present and submit a proposal of formal training for the two employees. This must capture the technical and behavioral KPI’s of the job that must be supported by the training.
• The speaker shall identify the pros and cons of the proposed formal training.
• The speaker will use the results of the formal training to the group and actual performance form for six months to a year as a reference in keeping or terminating the two employees. This will serve as a tracker in order to monitor both of the employees’ performance and improvement. Also, there must be an agreement that if this does not merit their performance, this can be a subject to proper dismissal in accordance to the company’s policy.
• If the said program is successful, the speaker can present to HR the beneficial applications of the formal training of employees to the company.

References

Aquino. (October 23, 1979). A Code of Ethis for Business. In B.-B. C. Development.
Robbins, & Judge. (2009). Essentials of Organizational Behaviour (13th ed.). Prentice-Hall.
Zigarelli, M. A. (1993). Catholic Social Teaching and the Employment Relationship: A Model for Managing Human Resources in Accordance with Vatican Doctrine. Journal of Business Ethics , 12: 75-82
Abela, A. V. (2001). Profit and More: Catholic Social Teaching and the Purpose of the Firm. Journal of Business Ethics , 31: 107-116.

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Point / Counterpoint: Traits Are Powerful Predictors of Behavior

 

The argument: if the individual’s personality changes as a result of exposure to organizational settings, in what sense can that individual be said to have traits that persistently and consistently affect his or her reactions to those very settings?

 

Trait theorists are focused in the measurement of traits, which can be defined as habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion in which are relatively stable over time, differ across individuals, and influence behavior (Saul Kassin, (2003). Psychology. USA: Prentice-Hall, Inc.). One of the common frameworks widely used is the Five-Factor Model (OCEAN) which includes Openness to experience/intellect, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

 

From the case, it is highlighted that there are two important problems with using traits to explain a large proportion of behavior in organizations. First, organization settings are strong situations that have a large impact on employee behavior. And last, individuals are highly adaptive and personality traits change in response to organizational situations.

 

It is true that traits are powerful predictors of behavior in organizations and the argument in the case is an extreme situation. Managers value and use the trait theory in hiring employees, the Five-Factor Models concept help managers in identifying and hiring the necessary employees needed in the organization structure. These models help managers in generalizing the employees and help the managers in grouping the common trait employees in order to achieve a harmonious and effective work environment. The formal and informal organization settings are placed as indicators and not as manipulators or constraints in order to inform managers of the reactions of employees and whereas, will be able to react and adjust to certain scenarios/reactions. The employees may adjust or change their personality in terms of organization’s formal and informal constraints in time due to pressure of change, but before these changes happen, there will be reactions from employees. These reactions from employees are predicted by trait theories, these reactions are the persistent and consistent traits of employees based on the models and these reactions are important feedbacks needed to be recognized by managers. These feedbacks can be used to change the said organizational constraints in order to keep the behavior of the employees be predictable. On the other hand, these organizational constraints can be retained in order to influence the employees to the needed and expected behavior.

 

In a situation where the effects of traits for some time to be likely strongest in relatively weak organizational situations can be interpreted by managers, from trait theory, to be the trigger points and markers that the organization’s formal and informal settings to be really weak and needed to be changed. The change in rules, regulations and culture will be effective by predicting the reactions of employees with the use of trait theory models. These predicted reactions will help the necessary and expected changes in the organization be effective and efficient in terms of time and resources of the organization.

 

disclaimer: this is a reaction paper as a requirement from an MBA course in Organizational Behavior

Ethical Dilemma: Is Organization Behavior Modification (OB Mod) a Form of Manipulation?

Manipulation is defined as a skillful or artful management by dictionary.com website. Another definition of manipulation, by the root word manipulate, is to manage or utilize skillfully by Meriam-Webster Dictionary. We can summarize that manipulation is closely related to management. In addition, Organization Behavior Modification (OB Mod) is a form of management in an organization level. Hence, we can say that OB Mod is a form of manipulation thru management. OB mod can be vied in a positive way by giving incentives to employees and by motivation, but in a negative way in a form of punishments and demoralization.

In terms of ethical issues of manipulation, using OB Mod for manipulating the behavior of employees is relative in terms of the point of view managers and employees. Managers are ethical in using OB Mod to employees in order to achieve the desired results needed by the company.  Whereas in hind sight, when achieving the desired results also affects the employees in assuring they will have their proper wage and benefits with the addition of incentives. Hence, in achieving the goal of the company, the saying “the end justifies the means” applies for managers.  In terms of the employees, OB Mod is unethical since it violates their rights of individual thinking freely or having limited choices. Hence, the saying “the means justifies the end” applies for the employees. The dilemma in the argument is in which ethical framework OB Mod becomes unethical; the holistic point of view or the individual point of view.

The Markkula framework, as a broad framework, will justify the use of OB Mod of managers in manipulating the behavior of employees.

  • Utilitarian – whether the action maximizes the utility of the issue or to achieve “the greatest good for the most amounts of people”: using OB Mod will realize the goal of the company and will produce profit to the shareholders and wages for the employees.
  • Justice and Fairness– whether the action has equal and fair effects on all involved: OB Mod is not equal and not fair on all involved especially for the employees since they are the only ones being manipulated.
  • Rights and Duties – Whether the action violates any rights or imposed duties: OB Mod violates the individual rights of every employee to think for one self and by having only limited choices. However, OB Mod has not violated any duties of the employer when incentives are used but violates the duties when deductions of wages and benefits are used in the form of punishments.
  • Ethics of Care – Whether the action has any adverse effects on the immediate stakeholders: OB mod has adverse effects since the employees are considered one of the immediate stakeholders positively or negatively depending on the method of use.
  • Virtue – Whether the action violates any virtue: OB Mod deceives the employees by believing on limited choices.

In summary, OB Mod is unethical by four out of five views; only in terms of the Utilitarian view does OB Mod become ethical.

However, OB Mod can be also viewed as a reaction of managers to employee’s bad behaviors and bad results. Hence, OB Mod can be ethical in order to restore order and make the employees effective again.

Hence, OB Mod’s ethical position depends on the proactive and reactive state of the managers and company to the employees; proactively as unethical but reactively to bad employees as ethical. In addition, OB Mod is viewed as a solution to problems in a company for managers.

disclaimer: this is a reaction paper as a requirement from an MBA course in Organizational Behavior

Point / Counterpoint: In Search of the Quick Fix

 

 

Popular books related to organizational behavior are considered quick fix books. They are deceiving managers and top management executives that there exists a better and fast way in dealing organizational behavior problems and situations.

 

Organizational Behavior (OB) is a broad concept and these (quick fix) books are mostly and only focusing in a certain specific branch of study in organizational behavior. Like “Tribes” by Seth Godin in which the book describes on a way of bringing together like-minded people, and starting something big. In general perspective, the book only tackles the opportunity and success in utilizing the common thinking of employees and using this inputs in improving and building success. However, the book does not tackle on handling the minority of employees that are not thinking the same as of the majority of common employee thinkers. The book also tackles only on the group level of organizational behavior in terms of Leadership. In which, Organizational Behavior have three levels in terms of “Essential of Organizational Behavior” by Robbins; (1) Individual Level, (2) Group Level and (3) Organizational System Level.

 

These (quick fix) books are very specific in topics of Organizational Behavior that there exists different kind of Leadership books in which each book is only highlighting the importance of a specific trait of Leadership. However there exist many kinds and traits of Leadership in Organizational Behavior with different strengths and weakness in every situation.  These books only sells to managers that using only a specific trait in Leadership can lead to success in an organization. Brainwashing managers that there is only a better trait of Leadership and other traits are to be ignored. Examples of these books are; “Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf in which the book is a collection of essays about serving others, and how you can lead by example. Another book is “The Versatile Leader” by Bob Kaplan and Rob Kaiser in which the book describes how to make the most of the manager’s strengths, and how to avoid burnout. Lastly, “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman in which the book describes how to be an emotionally intelligent leader, and how that will benefit the manager in today’s world.

 

However, these (quick fix) books are still sources of knowledge and information. These books are mediums in order to share and inspire managers the success of other managers when doing right in applying proper Organizational Behavior concepts. These books also stand as warnings and proofs in sharing the failures of other managers when neglecting concepts in Organizational Behavior. These books are compilations of knowledge that gives assurance to managers that there are other managers out there having the same situation and problems they are encountering.

 

It is the job of managers and top management executives in realizing the purpose and use of these (quick fix) books and uses them properly in guiding them to a success in their organization.

 

disclaimer: this is a reaction paper as a requirement from an MBA course in Organizational Behavior

Prezi presentation – About myself

Prezi is a new way way of presentation. its my first time using Prezi, so im not that familiar with the menus and settings but in the end i had fun making & arranging the presentation material. the presentation is about myself.

http://prezi.com/rx9w5wcpwnbn/about-myself/