Micromanager case study depicts the story of George Latour, CEO of Retronics whose duty is to increase the company's revenue. He considers himself a good leader but when a new marketing director was hired, Latour was faced with some management problems. The new marketing director regarded Latour's management style as oppressive. It seems like there was a clash between the management style Latour is employing and the management style the new marketing director wanted or expected it to be.
Harvard Business Review (R0409X-PDF-ENG)
September 01, 2004
Case questions answered:
Case study questions answered in the first solution:
- Identify the lacking management competencies.
- State the key problems in this “Micromanager” case study.
- List alternative solutions.
- Provide recommendations.
- Provide an Implementation Plan.
Case study questions answered in the second solution:
- Is George guilty of micromanagement?
- What are the pluses and minuses of the “hands-on” management style? How does it differ from the developing and coaching approach?
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Micromanager Case Answers
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Executive Summary – Micromanager
The report is prepared for Shelley to improve her professional relationship with her boss – George. Firstly, the article identifies the competencies problems of Shelley in this “Micromanager” case study, which includes the lack of self-awareness, trust, persuasion skills, and failure to communicate effectively.
In the second part, the article identifies two main problems, including self-management and conflict management. These problems are considered the most important areas for improvement of Shelley, and after solving them, Shelley can experience significant progress in relationship maintenance with George.
The article then provides alternative solutions to each main problem with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.
Finally, the article evaluates each solution and selects the most relevant ones. It also provides a detailed implementation plan for the solution opted by the research team.
1. Problem Identification and Analysis
1.1 Lack of Self-awareness
Some symptoms demonstrate that Shelley is not inclined to pursue a self-awareness practice. Firstly, Shelley did not regularly realize her weaknesses to find opportunities. Particularly, Shelley did not reflect on her weaknesses in the work environment.
When George tried to help her improve her understanding of a long-term corporate operation, she thought she was smart enough and lost interest in learning as she was not aware of her weaknesses. As Lacewing (2005) states, having an improvement in self-awareness enables people to detect inappropriate emotions and thoughts better.
However, Shelley’s poor self-awareness causes her inability to have the appropriate feelings and knowledge, which subsequently influences her performance at work. Then, Shelley was not willing to share her beliefs and opinions with others. When Shelley had different views from George, she just nodded, so she did not conduct timely communication.
Although George tries to understand more about Shelley’s state of mind and gives feedback to her, Shelley still cannot be persuaded as she opts for defensive behavior. Moreover, Shelley did not actively seek feedback from the people she worked with. Lack of self-awareness can hinder one’s self-improvement (Duval & Silvia, 2002).
Apparently, Shelley needs feedback from others to understand her weaknesses and improve if necessary. She was, moreover, reluctant to share her view by explaining the marketing plan to George.
1.2 Lack of Trust Relationship (Poor Emotional Intelligence)
Shelley and George had a tense trust relationship and poor mutual understanding. Shelley thought George did not trust her judgment and tried to micromanage her.
Meanwhile, George thought Shelley was disengaged. From this situation, Shelley felt disgusted and depressed by George, even thinking he drove her crazy.
As Caruso, John D. Mayer, and Peter Salovey, American psychologists at Yale University, stated in 2000, emotional intelligence (EQ) is ‘the ability to perceive and express emotions, to assimilate emotion in thought, to understand and judge with the help of emotions and to regulate own emotions and others’ (Hahn et al., 2012, pp. 744).
As well according to the report from Saarni (1998), EQ plays an important role in people’s understanding. Shelley and George treat each other’s work negatively, and they do not stand alongside each other to try to understand the situation and think about the whole problem objectively.
As such, inter-organizational workers with low EQ cannot control themselves and are not capable of self-regulation or situation adaptation, which would drive down the self-motivation and trust relationship (Lawani, 2016). Forming a good trust employment relationship is significant in the workplace. Particularly, a better goal achievement can be reached when the workforce has a high level of EQ.
However, it seems that Shelley had a low EQ with poor self-regulation because she felt depressed and could not control her emotions very well to adjust to a new working environment, which exactly dropped her self-motivation.
Such an approach is not beneficial for achieving personal and corporate goals. Therefore, poor EQ may cause a stressful situation and give rise to an untrusted employment relationship.
1.3 Failure to Effectively Communicate
Shelly and George’s tension also comes from the communication area. They did not make sure their audiences got their words and understood the meaning of the messages delivered.
In the last conversation between Shelley and George, Shelley tended to communicate with George about her situation and feelings. However, they ended up in a fight, partly because Shelly did not communicate in the right way, leaving no space for George to respond.
Their conflicts come from different ways Shelley and George encoded and decoded messages. Encoding and decoding the information by the transmitter and receiver are critical processes in communication (Shannon, 2001). Different culture influences the way we encode/decode and make meaning from others’ statements (Gudykunst et al., 1988).
In this case, Shelley and George may have different cultural dimensions of masculinity and femininity. From Hofstede’s six cultural dimensions (Hofstede & Bond, 1984), masculinity means preferences for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards, while femininity represents the preference for cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life.
In this “Micromanager” case study, Shelley believes her marketing plan should be modest, and she hopes she can acquire respect from George. While George did notice her demand, he still believed boosting corporate revenues was the most important thing. He tried to be patient, but he still pointed out her mistakes and criticized her to some extent.
1.4 Failure to Apply Persuasion Skills
Shelley did not put any solid arguments regarding her vision of work except for stressing her expertise in Marketing. This caused more reasons for the fight between the professional backgrounds of George and her own instead of a conciliation kickoff.
Shelley’s approach to George was adversely speaker-focused (ethos) without due evidence presented (logos), even on this unsteady matter. Apparently, George is so obsessed with his underperformance at the company that he cannot discern any clue about his agenda through the prism of Shelley’s indiscretion.
On the other hand, Shelley has not put any effort into equalizing her speech and involves George’s attention to her point while taking into account his concern (pathos). Shelley failed to prepare her arguments and evidence and adjust the emotional match, with George being a core step towards persuasion, according to Jay A. Conger (1998).
2. Statement of key problems
The major issues between Shelley and George can be concluded and broken down into self-management and conflict-management problems.
Self-management practice involves self-awareness and self-improvement, which are key areas that…
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