Case Study: Dayglo Devices Inc
At 7:30 am, Hillary Rodham hit the snooze alarm for the third time, but she knew she could not go back to sleep. Rubbing her eyes and shaking off a headache, Hillary first checked her phone and read an urgent message from her boss, explaining that David Cochrane, Executive Manager, Marketing, had resigned this morning and needed to be replaced immediately. Frustrated, Hillary lumbered into the shower, hoping it would energise her to face another day. After last night’s management meeting, which had ended after midnight, she was reeling from the news that her employer, Dayglo Devices, was spiralling toward a financial meltdown.
Hillary scratched her head and wondered, ‘How could one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers plummet from being a gold standard in the industry to one struggling for survival?’ At the end of 2018, Dayglo Devices Inc. had $5 billion in annual revenue, and sold its products throughout 150 nations in the World and employed 20,000 people in offices and facilities located in 25 countries. After five years of falling sales, stemming from rapid shifts towards digital-based toys, Dayglo was facing yet again, another year of declining revenues and falling profit.
At her office, Hillary and her co-workers felt growing pressure to respond to this crisis quickly and ethically. But morale was sagging and decision making was stalled. New projects were on hold, revenues weren’t coming in fast enough, and job cuts were imminent. Finger-pointing and resignations of key managers had become commonplace. Strong management was needed to guide employees to stay the course. Hillary knew her priority was to replace David Cochrane. When leaving the meeting the previous night, Hillary’s boss had told her, ‘It’s critical that we keep key managers in place as we weather this storm. If we lose any, be sure you replace them with ones who can handle the stress and can make tough, maybe even unpopular decisions.
Working up a sweat as Hillary rushed into her office, she began sorting through the day’s priorities. Her first task would be to consider internal candidates to replace David Cochrane. She pondered the characteristics required of a chief marketing manager and scribbled them on a notepad: experienced in marketing and branding issues; strong decision-making skills; high ethical standards; able to make job cuts; comfortable slashing budgets; and respected for calm leadership. Hillary immediately thought of Leigh Enfield, a marketing manager in Dayglo’s Australian division who had been vocal about her desire to move up the corporate ladder and had recently shown steady leadership as the organisation started to crumble.
Leigh had worked her way up through the organisation, becoming a respected expert in her field. She had developed a strong team of loyal employees and made training and job development a priority. She was likable, sensitive to her employees, and a consensus builder. While some managers within Dayglo Devices had made questionable business decisions, Leigh had held herself to a high ethical standard and created a culture of integrity within her marketing branch. Leigh was focused on the future – a go-getter who knew how to get results.
With the future of the company at stake, however, Hillary wondered if Leigh could handle the tough challenges ahead. Although Hillary valued Leigh’s team-building skills, Hillary also knew that Leigh could be soft when it came to holding employees accountable. A large part of Leigh’s motivation was to have people like her. At the last company meeting, when she reported a shortfall in responses to a consumer campaign lead by her division and came under fire, she had become defensive and didn’t want to point fingers at employees who were to blame. In fact, Hillary recalled another instance when Leigh recoiled at the thought of having a stern conversation with an employee who had developed a pattern of poor attendance (reportedly the employee was caring for her sick husband). She confessed a hesitation to confront under-performers and employees struggling to balance home and work life.
Hillary stirred her morning coffee and pondered, ‘Is Leigh Enfield capable of balancing kindness and toughness during an organisational crises? I know she is creative and innovative with her marketing campaigns, and she is great at spearheading major campaigns, but can I count on her to be decisive and focused on top- and bottom-line results? Is she too much of a people pleaser? Will it impact her ability to manage successfully?’
Hillary picked up the phone and dialled YOU because Hillary remembered that you are studying management at University. You answered the phone, and after explaining her situation, Hillary asks you: ‘Is it possible for a manager who demonstrates kindness and concern for employees to also achieve productive outcomes for Dayglo Devices Inc., particularly in light of the organisation’s current issues and environment?’ Rather than conjure up a verbal response for Hillary on the spot, you advised her that you will provide her with some considered, written advice.
This case is an adapted version of the case, ‘Studer International’ in Daft, RL, 2011,
The Leadership Experience, 5th edn, South-Western Cengage, pp. 30-31.
Your task for this assignment
Write a 2000 word response providing advice to Hillary in relation to her question.
1.Make sure you tailor your advice as much as possible to take into account Leigh’s strengths and weaknesses and the organisational situation.
2.Dedicate some of your word count (approx. 100 words) to making a justified, summary recommendation to Hillary as to the way forward with the filling of the vacancy, justifying why this way forward would be an appropriate course of action (remember the elements of a reasoned argument in the critical thinking competency: element grounds-warrant-claim).
You are expected to use, as a theoretical basis for your advice, the competing values framework (CVF) and draw upon appropriately selected content from each of Modules 2, 3, 4 and 5 in relation to the competencies (you are not expected to address all the competencies in the model, just one or two key ones from each quadrant that you think have most relevance and that will help you support your argument to Hillary). Module 1 may also provide useful contextual information.