A Challenging Workplace
As a leader in campus organizations, Samira Tanaka, a student, often led projects and took deadlines very seriously. Her strong work ethic led to an internship offer at a Japanese automotive company. At orientation for her internship, Samira learned that Japanese companies historically had little diversity in terms of race and gender. Women in Japan were not as prevalent in the workforce as in North America. In an effort to adapt to North American norms, Japanese subsidiaries had well-developed diversity policies. For example, Samira tracked the usage of minority-owned businesses in the company’s supply base. This ensured that the company invested in local businesses that operated in traditionally economically disadvantaged areas. Investing in the local community was already an important business value in Japan, so this was a simple adaptation for Samira’s company.
The company culture was a unique blend of Japanese and North American work styles. The employees in North America worked fewer hours than the employees in Japan. Around the office, it was common for employees to hear Japanese and English. However, management still had some internal conflict. Japanese advisers were perceived as focusing on the creation of consensus in teams, often leading to slow decision making. North American workers were seen as rushing into projects without enough planning. Feedback was indirect from both Japanese and North American managers.
Samira successfully completed two internship rotations and was about to graduate from college. Her new manager often asked her to follow up with other team members to complete late tasks. As she had been taught in school, she was proactive with team members about completing their work. Samira thought she was great at consistently inviting others to participate in the decision-making process. She always offered her opinion on how things could be done better, and sometimes even initiated tasks to improve processes on her own. Although she saw herself as an emerging take-charge leader, Samira always downplayed her ambitions. In school, she was often stereotyped in negative ways for being an assertive female leader, and she didn’t want to be seen in that way at work.
Some of her peers at work advised her that it was important to consider working at a plant near her hometown because it would be closer to her family. However, she was not interested in following that advice. Samira thought it was more exciting to work near a large city or to take a job that involved travel. She didn’t think it was appropriate to discuss with her peers her family concerns in relation to her future job needs.
Toward the end of her final internship, Samira received a performance evaluation from a senior manager. Her manager praised her as being very dependable, as planning deadlines well, and as being very competent at her tasks overall. However, he also told her she was increasingly perceived as too pushy, not a team player, and often speaking out of turn. This often irritated her peers. Samira had never seen herself this way at work and did not understand why she was not seen as aligning with the company’s core value of working with others. Good grades and campus leadership activities had gotten her this far, but this evaluation led her to question whether she could work for this company after graduation.
Samira ultimately realized that her workplace was different from the campus atmosphere she was used to. If she wanted to be an emerging leader in the workplace, she had to better adapt to her new environment.
1. What similarities and differences can you identify between North American and Japanese working styles?
2. In what way did this company reflect the characteristics of other Confucian Asia countries?
3. Why do you think Samira was not seen as a team player?
4. What universal leadership attributes did Samira exhibit?
5. What other suggestions would you have for Samira in this situation?
Starts with a Bang, Ends with a Whimper
A faculty member, Kim Green from the Management Department, was asked to chair a major university committee to plan the mission of the university for the next 20 years. Three other senior faculty and seven administrators from across the campus were also asked to serve on this committee. The president of the university, Dr. Sulgrave, gave the committee its charge: What should Northcoast University be like in the year 2020?
Dr. Sulgrave told the committee that the work of this task force was of utmost importance to the future of the university, and the charge of this committee should take precedence over all other matters. The task force was allowed to meet in the president’s conference room and use the president’s secretary. The report of the committee was due in 2 months. The task force members felt very good about being selected for such an important team. The team met on a weekly basis for about 2 hours each time. At first, the members were very interested in the task and participated enthusiastically. They were required to do a great deal of outside research. They came back to the meetings proud to share their research and knowledge. However, after a while the meetings did not go well.
The members could not seem to agree on what the charge to the team meant. They argued about what they were supposed to accomplish and resented the time the committee was taking from their regular jobs. Week after week the team met but accomplished nothing. Attendance became a problem, with people skipping several meetings, showing up late, or leaving early. Team members stopped working on their committee assignments. Kim didn’t want to admit to the university president that the team didn’t know what it was doing; instead, she just got more and more frustrated. Meetings became sporadic and eventually stopped altogether. The president was involved in a crisis in the university and seemed to lose interest in the committee. The president never called for the report from the committee, and the report was never completed.
- Which characteristics of excellence were lacking in this task force?
- Which characteristics of excellence were evident in this task force?
- How would you assess Kim as a leader?
- What actions would you take (internally or externally) if you were the leader of this task force?
Re-examining a Proposal
After working 10 years as the only minority manager in a large printing company, David Jones decided he wanted to set out on his own. Because of his experience and prior connections, David was confident he could survive in the printing business, but he wondered whether he should buy an existing business or start a new one. As part of his planning, David contacted a professional employer organization (PEO), which had a sterling reputation, to obtain an estimate for human resource services for a start-up company. The estimate was to include costs for payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation, and other traditional human resource services.
Because David had not yet started his business, the PEO generated a generic quote applicable to a small company in the printing industry. In addition, because the PEO had nothing tangible to quote, it gave David a quote for human resource services that was unusually high.
In the meantime, David found an existing small company that he liked, and he bought it. Then he contacted the PEO to sign a contract for human resource services at the previously quoted price. David was ready to take ownership and begin his new venture. He signed the original contract as presented.
After David signed the contract, the PEO reviewed the earlier proposal in light of the actual figures of the company he had purchased. This review raised many concerns for management. Although the goals of the PEO were to provide high-quality service, be competitive in the marketplace, and make a reasonable profit, the quote it had provided David appeared to be much too high. It was not comparable in any way with the other service contracts the PEO had with other companies of similar size and function.
During the review, it became apparent that several concerns had to be addressed. First, the original estimate made the PEO appear as if it was gouging the client. Although the client had signed the original contract, was it fair to charge such a high price for the proposed services? Would charging such high fees mean that the PEO would lose this client or similar clients in the future? Another concern was related to the PEO’s support of minority businesses. For years, the PEO had prided itself on having strong values about affirmative action and fairness in the workplace, but this contract appeared to actually hurt and to be somewhat unfair to a minority client. Finally, the PEO was concerned with the implications of the contract for the salesperson who drew up the proposal for David. Changing the estimated costs in the proposal would have a significant impact on the salesperson’s commission, which would negatively affect the morale of others in the PEO’s sales area.
After a re-examination of the original proposal, a new contract was drawn up for David’s company with lower estimated costs. Though lower than the original proposal, the new contract remained much higher than the average contract in the printing industry. David willingly signed the new contract.
- What role should ethics play in the writing of a proposal such as this? Did the PEO do the ethical thing for David? How much money should the PEO have tried to make? What would you have done if you were part of management at the PEO?
- From a deontological (duty) perspective and a teleological (consequences) perspective, how would you describe the ethics of the PEO?
- Based on what the PEO did for David, how would you evaluate the PEO on the ethical principles of respect, service, justice, honesty, and community?
- How would you assess the ethics of the PEO if you were David? If you were among the PEO management? If you were the salesperson? If you were a member of the printing community?
Q1. Following are the differences and similarities found in working culture of Japan and North American:
- Both the countries have diversified policies to govern their organizations.
- Both the countries are interested in investing in local communities, as investing in local communities is considered very important in both the countries, Japan as well as North America.
- Japanese companies had diversity in terms of race, creed, caste and gender. On the other hand North American companies were not diversified, as North America didn’t believes in race and gender.
- Japanese are focusing on creating consensus among team; on the other hand North Americans were indulged in their projects without prior planning.
- In Japan women were less prevalent in corporate world, on the other hand North America welcomed women in corporate work, and women were also contributing in business on large scale.
- Confucian countries are those countries whose working culture, living, beliefs are identical. Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau and few other countries are Confucian countries. Similar to these Confucian countries of Asia,
- Japan depicts the long working hours
- Less contribution of women in corporate world
- Focusing on creativity
- Japan has little diversity
- Focusing on minority
Q3. Samira was not seen as team player as,
- She was not an initiative taker; she was pushed to start a work.
- She was depended on others, as individual should be independent in his/her own work.
- She was not a team player (Centre for creative leadership).
- She was introvert, as she was always forced by the team to spoke out on topics of discussions
- She was unable to be aligned with the company norms and policies.
Q4. Following are the universal attributes exhibited by Samira:
- She was very competent among their colleagues and also very competent at her tasks.
- She was dependable on others, as this exhibits that, she gave importance to other employees decision also.
- She always completed her task before deadlines; this exhibits the attribute of punctuality.
- She was proactive with other team members (The balance careers, 2018).
- She also exhibited the quality of take charge leader.
Q5. Suggestions to Samira are given below:
- Samira should take initiative at various tasks, as initiative taker is always praised by his/her employer, and this also develops the sense of confidence in an individual.
- Samira should develop the quality of team player, as team player leads the team towards achievement of goal (The art of Manliness, 2018).
- She should try to be extrovert, as extrovert is always welcomed by the organization for decision making on various issues.
- She should be good communicator (Brain Tracy, 2018).
- She should develop the quality of empathy, creativity and innovation, as these qualities are welcomed by everyone and these depicts the example of best leader.
Q1. Following are the characteristics lacking in task force:
- Objective of the task was not clearly explained to the committee, who was going to complete the task at its own pace.
- Commitment for the task was missing among the task force, as they started with enthusiasm but after sometime they lost their interest, so the characteristic of commitment is missing there.
- Regular assessment of contribution to the task was missing there, as regular assessment reflects the one’s contribution to the task
- Collaboration among team was missing, some of the team members were interested and were not
- Regular discussion with the head of the task i.e. president was missing.
Q2. Following are the characteristics that are evidence for excellence in the task force
- Committee of the task meet on daily basis for 2 hours to discuss their topic or work assigned to them by their president.
- Task force also conducted research required by their work
- They used the president’s secretary for their work
- Kim addressed them on daily basis, till they committed to the work.
- Task force also discussed on their research and knowledge
Q.3. Following are the points or characteristics that exhibit Kim as a leader:
- She was committed towards her task, that was given to her to lead
- She was full of confidence, as she confidently indulged with the task force and work.
- She had positive attitude (Kununu, 2018).
- She was honest her work, that was given to her.
- She herself dealt with all the mishandling, she didn’t convey mishandling to her president, and this exhibits the quality of accountability towards her work.
Q4. Following are the actions that should be taken by a good leader to deal with the task force:
- I was the team leader; I explained the work to the task force very clearly, as what is demanded from them.
- I conducted regular meetings with the task force, as what they have researched, what they have found, is there any difficulty in working and many more. Regular meetings with the task force helps in clearing all the doubts.
- Motivation drives an individual towards achieving his/her goal, so I motivated my team or task force towards their work; through this they developed the sense of courage (Forbes, 2018).
- Good communication wins all hearts, so communication politely with the task force is also the quality of the good team leader.
- If I was a team leader I took decision efficiently, that are based on reasoning and practical approach
Q1 Ethics plays a very important role in business, as these are the code of conducts on which particular business runs. Ethics tells us about what is wrong and what is right (SHRM, 2014).
PEO did partially right and partially wrong, as PEO is also the business unit, he could not let its business in loss for new start-ups, on the other hand he did wrong, as PEO developed high cost proposal for David, which was too much for new start-up. PEO tried to charge more than the original price. If I was the part of management team at PEO, I would suggest the department to cut all the extra cost that led to the higher value of proposal, also suggested the team to charge less for proposal, as David was a new comer in the market, and had had not enough money to deal with us.
Q2. From a deontological point of view ethics of PEO: Duty is the foremost thing in organization, adhere to its services or duty is includes in the code of conducts of every organization, PEO did the same, they were loyal to their services, they did for his business fairly, without charging any extra cost, they prepared the proposal according to the requirements. From the point of view of teleological perspective, they were not following the ethics, as their ethics told them to charge less for new start-ups; they followed their ethics since inception (Franklin Templetor Investments, 2018).
Q3. PEO did best for David on the basis of their ethics and values and code of conduct, PEO maintained its respect and goodwill since inception, so they did not want to lose their goodwill, PEO prepared various proposals keeping in consideration the budget and requirement of the business, he allowed David to choose, and David intentionally chooses the proposal. PEO did justice to them and justice to David. PEO disclosed all the contents of proposals and their charges to David. So this clearly depicts that, PEO prepared the proposal keeping the ethics in consideration.
Q4. If I was a David, I assessed PEO was partially with their ethics, and partially not, as they charged high for new start-up like me, because the amount PEO was charged from David was high in comparison with other start-ups he charged for. But on the other hand they were adhere to their duties and fair with their work
If I was among the PEO, s management then I assessed PEO was with their ethics, they didn’t think of loss in their business, they charged according to the expenses included, sales person commission, and many other expenses.
Commission is the income of sales person, as we all know that commission received as a percentage of sales, if PEO deducted the amount of proposal, and then it would be very difficult to pay the commission to sales person, so according to the sales person point of view PEO was with his ethics. Proposal was created with all the facts and figures keeping in consideration that should be allowed to be the part of proposal.
From the point of view of printing community, PEO did according to their ethics, as printing attracts high cost human resource.
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