CEO Jane Lionel has some hard decisions to make with regard to some of the company?solder hands, and even on the eve of t
CEO Jane Lionel has some hard decisions to make with regard to some of the company’solder hands, and even on the eve of that decision, I believe she is wavering about what sheshould do. I will be in that meeting, assisting with that decision, and I’m not certain whichway to go, either. And so here I am, sorting through and writing down my thoughts.When Jim Lionel started manufacturing heavy-duty construction equipment here inAlaska 40 years ago, his personal management style reflected the ruggedness of Alaska andthe construction business. He understood that he was producing tough equipment for toughmen working in an unforgiving environment. At 60500and over 300 pounds, Lionel personi-fied the bigger-than-life image of Alaskan workers. He had a no-nonsense management style.He coddled no one. Jim Lionel expected and got results. He chewed—not smoked—a cigar.I swear that in the 30 years I worked for him, I never saw that thing lit up as he barked—yes,barked—orders.barked—orders.barkedI’d have to say that Jim Lionel gained respect because he always delivered and his wordwas his bond. But he never achieved admiration. There was no finesse. A new HR directoronce mentioned to me that Jim should create bonds with his workers through techniques suchas management by walking around. I said, ‘‘Believe me, you donotwant him walkingaround—that simply means he’s stressed and he’s mad.’’ You could actuallyfeelhim and hearhim before you saw him, and as one employee said, ‘‘When he barked your name, your heartstopped, because until that moment you were certain that he did notknowyour name.’’ Weall figured that his temper would explode one day and he would die on the shop floor from aheart attack. Then suddenly, he did.Following his death, we were certain that the company would have to be sold in order tocontinue operations. However, Jim’s one true friend and confidante was his wife Jane, andwith unanimous board approval, she moved in to take his place as the head of the company.The initial concerns and fears of employees were soon calmed. Jane knew the company to adegree that surprised employees. But her management style, developed over 20 years as headof marketing for a regional health-care organization, was in stark contrast to that of herhusband.While Jane shared her husband’s goals and high standards for quality and on-time deliv-ery, she also believed in the importance of demonstrating to employees their value to the com-pany. She not only communicated her vision, but she took the time to listen to the employees,to give them opportunities to voice opinions, express concerns, and submit ideas. She metregularly with individual departments and assisted line workers in the movement toward456PART 5THE LEADER AS SOCIAL ARCHITECT huge change. Production is up slightly, but the real change can be seen in people’s attitudesand pride in their jobs. Communication and the overall level of civility among employees haveimproved dramatically. But while these cultural changes have been embraced by the majorityof workers and supervisors, there are two glaring exceptions.Supervisors Curtis Willett and Morgan Elder were among the first people hired by JimLionel. Their long service to the organization and their consistency in meeting all productiongoals and deadlines is impressive. They take pride in their ability to push themselves and theircrews relentlessly. However, their management styles are a throw-back to the old culture.They succeed by intimidation. The civility and cooperation that characterizes other parts ofthe plant is shoved aside or drowned out in a barrage of yelling. ‘‘Shock and Awe,’’ the jointnickname briefly given to the two men by employees following the 2003 U.S. aerial assault onIraq, has been revived. If these men are aware of the label, they are probably proud.So here’s our dilemma: They are too old to change. Curtis and Morgan not only do notfit the new culture, but through tactics of control and intimidation they also encourage work-ers to ignore the new cultural initiatives. Everyone is on board except the employees inthese two adjoining areas of the plant. So we cannot reach the full potential of the new culturewhile the old culture pulls us back. Fire them? Demote them? I don’t think so. They’ve donenothing wrong. Their crews are meeting their production and quality targets. Furthermore,these two guys have been with the company for 40 years. A move on our part that appearsunjustified opens us to an age discrimination suit. But I also don’t see how we can change theculture unless they leave.So, we meet tomorrow to determine what we can do. Writing about a problem usuallyhelps me to sort things out. When I finish, I generally have an answer or at least an idea abouthow to proceed. I’ve finished writing. And I haven’t got a clue.
QUESTIONS1. What options do you think Jane and her management team should consider with regardto these two long-time supervisors? Discuss the positives and negatives of each option.
2. Do you think it is appropriate for Jane to remove two long-time, high-performing man-agers in order to create a new culture for everyone else? Why? Consider the material exhibit 14
.3. What do you recommend that Jane do? Explain why.
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