Case Study 1: More Than a Paycheck
Lemuel Greene was a trainer for National Home Manufacturers, a large builder of prefabricated homes. National Home had hired Greene fresh from graduate school with a master’s degree in English. At first, the company put him to work writing and revising company brochures and helping with the most important correspondence at the senior level. But soon, both Greene and senior management officials began to notice how well he worked with executives on their writing, how he made them feel more confident about it, and how, after working with an executive on a report, the executive often was much more eager to take on the next writing task.
So National Home moved Greene into its prestigious training department. The company’s trainers worked with thousands of supervisors, managers, and executives, helping them learn everything from new computer languages to time management skills to how to get the most out of the workers on the plant floor, many of whom were unmotivated high school dropouts. Soon Greene was spending all his time giving short seminars on executive writing as well as coaching his students to perfect their memos and letters.
Greene’s move into training meant a big increase in salary, and when he started working exclusively with the company’s top brass, it seemed as though he got a bonus every month. Greene’s supervisor, Mirela Albert, knew he was making more than many executives who had been with the company three times as long, and probably twice as much as any of his graduate school classmates who concentrated in English. Yet in her biweekly meetings with him, she could tell that Greene wasn’t happy.
When Albert asked him about it, Greene replied that he was in a bit of a rut. He had to keep saying the same things over and over in his seminars, and business memos weren’t as interesting as the literature he had been trained on. But then, after trailing off for a moment, he blurted out, “They don’t need me!” Since the memos filtering down through the company were now flawlessly polished, and the annual report was 20 percent shorter but said everything it needed to, Greene’s desire to be needed was not fulfilled.
The next week, Greene came to Albert with a proposal: What if he started holding classes for some of the floor workers, many of whom had no future within or outside the company because many could write nothing but their own names? Albert took the idea to her superiors. They told her that they wouldn’t oppose it, but Greene couldn’t possibly keep drawing such a high salary if he worked with people whose contribution to the company was compensated at minimum wage.
Greene agreed to a reduced salary and began offering English classes on the factory floor, which were billed by management (who hoped to avoid a wage hike that year) as an added benefit of the job. At first only two or three workers showed up—and they, Greene believed, only wanted an excuse to get away from the nailing guns for a while. But gradually word got around that Greene was serious about what he was doing and didn’t treat the workers like kids in a remedial class.
At the end of the year, Greene got a bonus from a new source: the vice president in charge of production. Although Greene’s course took workers off the job for a couple of hours a week, productivity had actually improved since his course began, employee turnover had dropped, and for the first time in over a year, some of the floor workers had begun to apply for supervisory positions. Greene was pleased with the bonus, but when Albert saw him grinning as he walked around the building, she knew he wasn’t thinking about his bank account.
Q.1: What motivation theories would explain why Lemuel Greene was unhappy despite his high income? (7 Marks)
Q.2: Describe Lemuel Greene personality by incorporating different terminologies. (5 Marks)
Case Study 2: Right Boss, Wrong Company
Betty Kesmer was continuously on top of things. In school, she had always been at the top of her class. When she went to work for her uncle’s shoe business, Fancy Footwear, she had been singled out as the most productive employee and the one with the best attendance. The company was so impressed with her that it sent her to get an M.B.A. to groom her for a top management position. In school again, and with three years of practical experience to draw on, Kesmer had gobbled up every idea put in front of her, relating many of them to her work at Fancy Footwear. When Kesmer graduated at the top of her class, she returned to Fancy Footwear. To no one’s surprise, when the head of the company’s largest division took advantage of the firm’s early retirement plan, Kesmer was given his position.
Kesmer knew the pitfalls of being suddenly catapulted to a leadership position, and she was determined to avoid them. In business school, she had read cases about family businesses that fell apart when a young family member took over with an iron fist, barking out orders, cutting personnel, and destroying morale. Kesmer knew a lot about participative management, and she was not going to be labeled an arrogant know-it-all.
Kesmer’s predecessor, Max Worthy, had run the division from an office at the top of the building, far above the factory floor. Two or three times a day, Worthy would summon a messenger or a secretary from the offices on the second floor and send a memo out to one or another group of workers. But as Kesmer saw it, Worthy was mostly an absentee autocrat, making all the decisions from above and spending most of his time at extended lunches with his friends from the Elks Club.
Kesmer’s first move was to change all that. She set up her office on the second floor. From her always-open doorway she could see down onto the factory floor, and as she sat behind her desk she could spot anyone walking by in the hall. She never ate lunch herself but spent the time from 11 to 2 down on the floor, walking around, talking, and organizing groups. The workers, many of whom had twenty years of seniority at the plant, seemed surprised by this new policy and reluctant to volunteer for any groups. But in fairly short order, Kesmer established a worker productivity group, a “Suggestion of the Week” committee, an environmental group, a worker award group, and a management relations group. Each group held two meetings a week, one without and one with Kesmer. She encouraged each group to set up goals in its particular focus area and develop plans for reaching those goals. She promised any support that was within her power to give.
The group work was agonizingly slow at first. But Kesmer had been well trained as a facilitator, and she soon took on that role in their meetings, writing down ideas on a big board, organizing them, and later communicating them in notices to other employees. She got everyone to call her “Betty” and set herself the task of learning all their names. By the end of the first month, Fancy Footwear was stirred up.
But as it turned out, that was the last thing most employees wanted. The truthfinally hit Kesmer when the entire management relations committee resigned at the start of their fourth meeting. “I’m sorry, Ms. Kesmer,” one of them said. “We’re good at making shoes, but not at this management stuff. A lot of us are heading toward retirement. We don’t want to be supervisors.”
Astonished, Kesmer went to talk to the workers with whom she believed she had built good relations. Yes, they reluctantly told her, all these changes did make them uneasy. They liked her, and they didn’t want to complain. But given the choice, they would rather go back to the way Mr. Worthy had run things. They never saw Mr. Worthy much, but he never got in their hair. He did his work, whatever that was, and they did theirs. “After you’ve been in a place doing one thing for so long,” one worker concluded, “the last thing you want to do is learn a new way of doing it.”
Q.1: Mention the potential sources of stress among employees and how it could have been handled? (6 Marks)
Q.2: Explain Fancy Footwear organization structure and culture before and after Kesmer coming to the leadership position (5 Marks)
Q.3: Describe Kesmer behavior as a leader by incorporating different leadership theories. . Which leadership style should have Kesmer employed in order to deal with employees. (7 Marks)
Q.4: Explain how Kesmer could have motivated the management relations committee? (5 Marks)