Organizational Behavior ? Case study
Your memorandum should be addressed to: Lucy Lam, Board Chair, Greenlife. The subject line should be: ?Analysis and Advice re Problems at Greenlife?. Use headings and sub-headings as appropriate.
The emphasis is on applying organisational behaviour concepts and models to the analysis of behavioural problems. However, if you use quotations or paraphrased material from any source then full acknowledgment must be given using Harvard referencing. Warning re Plagiarism and Copying
Plagiarism (using material without full acknowledgement) and copying (from any source including other students) will be penalised with failure in the course.
1. Analysis of problems with Greenlife?s ?top team?.
2. Effective application of appropriate organisational behaviour concepts and models.
3. Recommendations for changes which address problems at Greenlife.
4. Quality of argument in support of recommendations.
5. Quality of memorandum presentation including clarity of expression, professionalism of layout and formatting, grammar and spelling.
You have been engaged as a consultant by Lucy Lam to assess and advise on the situation at her company
Greenlife. On the basis of the information provided in the attached case study ?Worklife at Greenlife?, write a memorandum in answer to the following questions:
1. What are the problems with Greenlife?s ?top team?? Use appropriate organisational behaviour concepts and models in your analysis.
2. What recommendations would you make for changes to address the problems you have identified at Greenlife? Provide supporting argument for each recommendation.
CASE STUDY: ?Worklife at Greenlife?
LUCY LAM founded Greenlife in 1961 by mixing beauty products in her garage and selling them at the local markets. With determination and some luck she has built her micro business into a major family-owned company
with 3 manufacturing plants and 364 stores around the country (an unspecified country in the Asian region). Greenlife now employs 3,850 people whom she calls her ?family? but they regard her as a ?benevolent dictator?. Although Lucy is now 66 years old she delights in the fact that everyone says she has the energy and drive of a woman half her age. Nevertheless, she has decided to step down from executive management and has recruited a new CEO. She intends to remain as Board Chair ?to keep an eye on things?.
PATRICK LAM, 42, is Lucy?s only child and has worked for Greenlife since graduating with a business degree in marketing 20 years ago. Lucy had hoped Patrick would develop into a capable leader but he has been a great disappointment. While trying to follow her style, he lacks her energy and charisma. As a result his staff find him to be autocratic and totally uninspiring. Patrick has always known that his mother disapproves of him but has always assumed she would make him CEO when she stepped aside. He has been National Marketing Manager for 10 years and feels devastated when he is passed over for the top job. However, he pretends to accept the new order and the new CEO.
JANE DONOHOE, 36, has just been appointed as CEO of Greenlife. She had run a similar company
in Europe. Jane is a dynamic and highly intelligent person, a persuasive communicator and a shrewd businessperson. Lucy finds Jane to be exactly like she was in her thirties. Although she says ?Jane?s the boss?, it is clear from the start that Lucy is not willing to hand over full control to her new CEO. Jane immediately undertakes a review of the company
and convinces Lucy that a major restructure is needed. She wants to move Greenlife to a divisional structure and creates a ?top team? to involve the new divisional managers in all major decisions. Lucy allows Jane to select her team but insists that Patrick is to have an executive role as ?Strategic Advisor?.
SOLOMON ABRAMS, 37, has been recruited by Jane to head up the new Corporate Services Division. He had held a similar position in the company
Jane ran previously. Solomon is very capable and has an outgoing personality that makes him very popular. However, he is weak and finds it easiest to agree with Jane on everything. She mistakenly thinks that his support is based on similarity of ideas and values rather than on subservience.
CORRIE YANG, 56, has been with Greenlife for 38 years having worked her way up from sales assistant in Lucy?s first store to National Sales Manager. Jane has appointed her as director of the new Beauty Products Division. Corrie is a dedicated and loyal company
person. Greenlife has become her life and she knows everything about sales. She is worried about Jane?s new approach and feels uncertain about the future but is keen to succeed in her new position.
GEORGE BRADY, 49, has been in charge of manufacturing at Greenlife for 10 years. An engineer by profession, he is an excellent team leader with high emotional intelligence. He prides himself on the low turnover and high worker satisfaction he has achieved in Greenlife?s factories while improving productivity and quality steadily over the years. He has been appointed as director of the new Health Products Division and is excited by the challenge of expanding his role beyond manufacturing.
YANI ZAVROS, 45, trained as a chemist and has been head of Research & Development with Greenlife for 16 years. She was an Olympic athlete in her twenties and combines creativity and determination in her work life. Jane has taken a particular liking to Yani and has made her the director of the new Fitness Products Division. Yani felt comfortable in her previous role where she had a small team of creative people she could relate to. She does not like being in a senior managerial role but Jane has convinced her that she can do the job. Yani finds the doubling of her salary very attractive.
The ?Top Team? in Action
The week after announcing the appointment of her executive ?top team?, Jane organised a team-building retreat at a five-star resort. She hired a facilitator to take them through a range of team exercises including games, problem-solving, trust building, shared leadership, role-playing and self-analysis. Lucy had never done anything like it and found it all rather exciting even though she was a bit concerned about the cost. ?Jane?s the boss, but this is costing a fortune. As long as we?re all a happy family? she declared. Patrick spent the two days trying to hide his resentment of both Lucy and Jane. He did his best to participate in all the activities. While his mother could see him quietly seething beneath the surface, Jane thought that Patrick was being friendly and cooperative.
The retreat was very successful from Jane?s point of view. She felt she had got the group to act like a team. ?There?s no ?I? in TOP TEAM? became her catchcry. The others generally enjoyed the retreat, particularly Solomon who would often try to initiate a chant calling out ?top team, top team, top team? even though no one would ever join in. However, Corrie became more anxious about Jane?s new ideas, Yani worried whether she was supposed to adopt Jane?s approach in her own division and George began to wonder whether Jane really knew what teams are about. Patrick chatted with each of them during the two days and sensed their reservations.
Over the next few months, the ?top team? met for two hours every week. They would start with a team exercise that Jane organised. ?Jane?s fun and games? Patrick would mutter to Corrie and Yani as Jane ended the exercise with her catchcry and Solomon responded with his solo chant. They then had reports from each team member. It quickly became clear that while each of the four division directors had a defined area of responsibility, Patrick?s role as Strategic Advisor was ambiguous. The others would report on progress against specific goals whereas Patrick would typically provide a vague report on his latest ?in-depth analysis?.
The last part of each meeting was devoted to decisions affecting the whole company
and it came to follow a predictable routine. Jane would introduce the session with an enthusiastic spiel about the essence of teamwork being collaborative decision-making and about being a ?happy family?. Lucy liked the ?happy family? reference but would find some way of reminiscing about how things used to be in the old days finishing with ?But Jane?s the boss now?. Jane would then outline the issue, providing a thorough evaluation of what she felt were the main options, and recommending her preferred solution. She would then say ?So that?s the decision we face. Let?s hear from our top team?. While there was no stated order, the group followed a regular pattern in taking turns to speak. Solomon would quickly respond first with a strong endorsement of Jane?s recommended decision. It was Yani?s turn next. She would often offer a new insight into the problem and Jane would respond along the lines of: ?As usual, Yani, you?re very creative but I?m not sure about the wisdom of doing that. What do you think Corrie?? Corrie would then feel pressured to endorse Jane?s recommendation and didn?t want to upset the group by disagreeing. Whenever she did try to offer her own views, Corrie would find Solomon defending Jane?s position. Typically, at this point George would step in to try to smooth things over, offering positive comments about Yani?s and Corrie?s opinions but ultimately supporting Jane.
Patrick would usually find himself making the final comments on the issue being discussed. He would typically start with a favourable commentary on Jane?s analysis of the issue usually going to excessive lengths to praise her. He would then selectively summarise other comments that had been made, often slightly distorting what the person originally said. Jane seemed unaware of the way he did this and he was usually unsuccessful in getting Jane to shift her ground. However, when Jane would declare ?So again our top team has made the perfect decision?, there would sometimes be some doubt around the table as everyone nodded in agreement.
An Incident at Greenlife
At the meeting of Greenlife?s ?top team? exactly six months after Jane had taken over as CEO, the main issue for discussion was a possible takeover of a major sportswear company
. Jane was all for the proposal which she saw as ?a chance to take Greenlife to the world?. However, the others including Solomon were quietly apprehensive that the other company
might end up taking over Greenlife. Jane insisted that the sportswear company
would simply become a new division in their existing organisation with an extra director in their ?happy family?. Lucy was unsure about moving into sportswear
though she conceded that there were sound business reasons for proceeding.
The takeover issue had been around for several weeks before the meeting. Patrick had been busy behind the scenes fuelling the fears of the others that the takeover would threaten their jobs. He didn?t openly oppose the idea. Rather, he reported to each of the others the concerns expressed by their colleagues and carefully but systematically exaggerated and distorted what each of them said. By the time of the meeting, Corrie, George and Yani had the clear impression that each of them was strongly opposed to the takeover. Even Solomon had been caught up in the process and had serious doubts about Jane?s proposal.
As usual, Jane introduced the issue after exhorting them all to ?act like a top team?. She did a brilliant job of outlining the takeover proposal pointing out all the advantages and arguing that the few disadvantages were of minimal consequence. Solomon began by expressing concern about the risks of moving into a new product area. Jane immediately admonished him for not being a team player saying that such negative thinking undermined the team?s ability to reach consensus. He quickly backed off claiming that he was just trying to help make the best decision which was, of course, to proceed with the takeover as Jane had recommended. George then spoke passionately about teamwork and the importance of having everyone in agreement with major decisions. He avoided specifically talking about the takeover issue. Next, Corrie simply said that she could see that Jane was right and that it was important to work together. Then Yani said she was happy to go along with the team consensus.
At this point Patrick lost his temper and stood up. ?You?re all spineless? he yelled. ?You know Jane is trying to sell out Greenlife. She?s an empire builder who doesn?t care less about this company
. She cares only about herself?. Jane was shocked and outraged. ?How dare you!? she cried as she glanced around the table and realised that her ?happy family? was an illusion. Jumping up from her chair she rushed over to confront Patrick pointing her finger at his chest. ?You?ve been plotting against me ever since I started, you pathetic little man?. Turning to Lucy she exclaimed ?Either you get rid of that useless son of yours or I quit!? and then she stormed out of the room.
End of Case Narrative
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