case study 3


Question Description

Please read the attached case and prepare a Word document with responses to the questions at the end of the case(lynn at big oil company). In addition to the course material, it is IMPORTANT that you review the readings posted under Week 6 and think about how they apply to Lynn's ability to manage her department, as well as her relationship with her boss. Please cite any of the articles within the text (e.g. gabarro Managing Your Boss) if using as support for your answers. Please note that your answers to Q2 and Q4 will be weighted more heavily.

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CASE: A TYPICAL TUESDAY FOR LYNN AT BIG OIL, INC. “What a day!” Lynn said to herself with a small sigh of contentment as she scanned Tuesday’s ‘to-do’ list on her smartphone. While waiting for the elevator that would take her to her office at Big Oil, Inc., she took note of some items on the list requiring her attention today: the month-end travel and entertainment (T & E) expense report was due, progress needed to be made on her boss’s upcoming budget presentation for the Management Committee, and she had an afternoon meeting with another department’s manager about a new financial system that was scheduled to be phased-in soon. She felt a twinge of guilt when she saw that “develop next year’s departmental goals and objectives” continued to appear at the top of the list; it was one of three items she had set to carryover automatically from one week to the next until she could check it off as done. Given the typical phone calls, drop-ins from the five accountants who reported to her, and “fires to put out” that characterized most of her days, Lynn knew she would get a lot done today and never be bored; just the way she liked it! She had worked hard to earn the promotion 2½ years ago to Accounting & Budgets manager for her division, and she wasn’t about to complain about the responsibilities or hours. Below is her complete ‘to-do’ list from her smartphone: • • • • • • • • Develop next year’s departmental goals & objectives (carryover, 6th week) Schedule interim performance feedback meetings with staff (carryover, 4th week) Research Susan’s question re: environmental cost accruals (carryover, 2nd week) Meet with Dan re: financial systems integration project; 2:00, Conf Rm B Call Catering – monthly department lunch T & E expense report due Work on Susan’s budget presentation for Management Committee Investigate out-of-balance account reconciliations older than 60 days As she stopped off in the break room to get coffee before heading to her office, Lynn felt a niggling concern in the back of her mind about two brief conversations she had late last week – one with June, her most experienced and capable accountant, and the other with Susan, Lynn’s boss. Probably nothing to worry about, but still… Lynn replayed the two conversations in her head: (Thursday of last week, Lynn stopped by June’s desk.) Lynn: “June, the monthly variance analysis report is due to Susan on Monday. Please give me the data on expenses exceeding budget by 2% or more, by line item, by the end of today. That should give me enough time to investigate the reasons for those variances and write up the report by the deadline.” June: “Yep, I’ve already compiled the numbers for you. How about if I do some preliminary research and call around to get some answers about the larger variances? My account reconciliations are all caught up and I have time today.” Lynn: “Thanks for offering, but doing the analysis and writing up the results is something I look forward to doing myself every month… it reminds me of my accountant days before I moved into the supervisor and then manager job. I love digging into the numbers and figuring out the story behind them… got to keep those analytical skills sharp, you know!” June: “Well, OK. On another subject, I’ve been meaning to ask if I could come with you to the meeting Tuesday with Dan from Financial Consolidations. I heard from Jim, one of the analysts in his group, that Dan asked him to attend so he could learn more about the upcoming financial systems integration project. I think it might be helpful if I came, too. I may be able to help you spot some potential trouble spots in the new system for our group’s monthly closing process.” Lynn: “Thanks for offering, but I don’t think so. I think coordinating the implementation of the new system between our departments is more appropriately Dan’s and my job. Frankly, I’m a little surprised he’s bringing Jim along.” June (a bit flustered): “Lynn, I’d like to talk with you sometime soon about how you view my performance and responsibilities. I know formal performance reviews aren’t for a few months, but I have some concerns that I don’t think can wait. I’d like to meet with you sooner than review time.” (Friday of last week, Susan, Lynn’s boss, stopped by her office.) Susan: “Lynn, you’ve been in your current position for 2½ years now. I know we’ve had a couple of formal year-end performance review meetings, but I think it’s time we sat down to specifically discuss some career development issues. I’m interested in learning about your aspirations for your next position and perhaps the one after that. Call my assistant to schedule a time that works for you on Thursday or Friday of next week. Please come prepared with some thoughts on what has gone well and not so well in your current role, where you’d be interested in moving next, and what you think you need to work on to be ready for that next step. I’ll do the same. ” (Back to Tuesday morning…) As Lynn sat down at her desk, she opened her e-mail inbox and shuffled through the ‘calls-to-return’ Post-its leftover from yesterday. She thought to herself, “I wonder what’s got June ticked off. I hope she’s not about to jump ship on me; I really can’t afford to lose her. And I wonder what prompted Susan to bring up this ‘career development meeting’ idea. Maybe that management position in External Reporting at corporate headquarters is opening up and she plans to recommend me for it! It would be quite a step up… roughly triple the number of staff, with two supervisors between the accountants and me… I’d love that job. Wonder what she’s thinking I ‘need to work on to be ready’?” Soon these thoughts faded as Lynn became absorbed in the here-and-now of a typical Tuesday. She queried her staff via e-mail about their sandwich preferences and then called Catering to place the order for Friday’s departmental lunch. She met with John, who had worked in the department since before Lynn’s arrival, to show him how to go about categorizing and labeling last year’s hardcopy reports and CD ledgers in preparation for storage. Karen stopped by with a problem she was having with an account reconciliation; Lynn told her to leave the file with her and she’d take care of it later. After returning a couple of calls and e-mails, she got to work on the month’s T & E report, pulling numbers from several cost center statements, reconciling them with employees’ approved reimbursement requests, and annotating the figures with notes about timing differences and other explanations. She worked on this for an hour before lunch, returned to it afterward, and finished the task shortly before 2:00 PM. As she made her way to Conference Room B for what promised to be a lengthy meeting with Dan, she realized with a familiar sense of regret that progress on Susan’s budget presentation, as well as the three carryover items on her ‘to-do’ list, would likely have to wait for another day. CASE QUESTIONS: 1. What are some strengths you see in Lynn’s performance as Accounting & Budgets manager? 2. What are some weaknesses? 3. June is described as Lynn’s “most experienced and capable accountant.” What do you think she wants to talk to Lynn about? 4. Lynn would like to be promoted to Manager, External Reporting at corporate headquarters. This position would entail significantly increased responsibilities and a much larger staff, including subordinate supervisors. When Susan, Lynn’s boss, sits down with her to discuss career development, what do you think they should talk about concerning what Lynn “needs to work on to be ready” for this promotion? » MANAGING YOURSELF BEST OF HBR 1980 A quarter-century ago, John Gabarro and John Kotter introduced a powerful new lens through which to view the manager-boss relationship: one that recognized the mutual dependence of the participants. The fact is, bosses need cooperation, reliability, and honesty from their direct reports. Managers, for their part, rely on bosses for making connections with the rest ofthe company, for setting priorities, and for obtaining critical resources. If the relationship between you and your boss is rocky, then it is you who must begin to manage it. When you take the time to cultivate a productive working re!ationship-by understanding your boss's strengths and weaknesses, priorities, and work style-everyone wins. In the 25 years since it was published, this article has truly improved the practice of management. Its simple yet powerful advice has changed the way people work, enhanced countless manager-boss relationships, and improved the performance of corporations in ways that show up on the bottom line. Over the years, it has become a staple at business schools and corporate training programs worldwide. Managing Your Boss byJohnJ.Gabarro and John P. Kotter ifyou forge ties with your boss based on mutual respect and understanding, both of you will be more effective. | o many people, the phrase "mana ^ g your boss" may sound unusual or suspicious. Because of the traditional top-down emphasis in most organizations, it is not obvious why you need to manage relationships upward-unless, of course, you would do so for personal or political reasons. But we are not referring to political maneuvering or to apple polishing. We are using the term to mean the process of consciously working with your superior to obtain the best possible results for you, your boss, and the company. Recent studies suggest that effective managers take time and effort to manage not only relationships with their subordinates but also those with their 92 bosses. These studies also show that this essential aspect of management is sometimes ignored by otherwise talented and aggressive managers. Indeed, some managers who actively and effectively supervise subordinates, products, markets, and technologies assume an almost passively reactive stance vis-i-vis their bosses. Such a stance almost always hurts them and their companies. If you doubt the importance of managing your relationship with your boss or how difficult it is to do so effectively, consider for a moment the following sad but telling story: Frank Gibbons was an acknowledged manufacturing genius in his industry and, by any profitability standard, a very HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW » MANAGING YOURSELF effective executive. In 1973. his strengths propelled him into the position of vice president of manufacturing for the second largest and most profitable company in its industry. Gibbons was not, however, a good manager of people. He knew this, as did others in his company and his industry. Recognizing this weakness, the president made sure that those who reported to Gibbons were good at working with people and could compensate for his limitations. The arrangement worked well. carefully-a whole series of misunderstandings and bad feelings developed between Gibbons and Bonnevie. For example, Bonnevie claims Gibbons was aware of and had accepted Bonnevie's decision to use a new type of machinery to make the new product; Gibbons swears he did not. Furthermore, Gibbons claims he made it clear to Bonnevie that the introduction ofthe product was too important to the company in the short run to take any major risks. In 1975, Philip Bonnevie was promoted into a position reporting to Gibbons. In keeping with the previous pattern, the president selected Bonnevie As a result of such misunderstandings, planning went awry: A new manufacturing plant was built that could not produce the new product designed by At a minimum, you need to appreciate your boss's goals and pressures. Without this information, you are flying blind, and problems are inevitable. because he had an excellent track record and a reputation for being good with people. In making that selection, however, the president neglected to notice that, in his rapid rise through the organization, Bonnevie had always had goodto-excellent bosses. He had never been forced to manage a relationship with a difficult boss. In retrospect, Bonnevie admits he had never thought that managing his boss was a part of his job. Fourteen months after he started working for Gibbons, Bonnevie was fired. During that same quarter, the company reported a net loss for the first time in seven years. Many of those who were close to these events say that they don't really understand what happened. This much is knovm, however: While the company was bringing out a major new product - a process that required sales, engineering, and manufacturing groups to coordinate decisions very John J. Cabarro is the UPS Foundation Professor of Human Resource Management at Harvard Business School in Boston. Now retired, John P. Kotter was the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School. 94 engineering, in the volume desired by sales, at a cost agreed on by the executive committee. Gibbons blamed Bonnevie for the mistake. Bonnevie blamed Gibbons. Of course, one could argue that the problem here was caused by Gibbons's inability to manage his subordinates. But one can make just as strong a case that the problem was related to Bonnevie's inability to manage his boss. Remember, Gibbons was not having difficulty with any other subordinates. Moreover, given the personal price paid by Bonnevie (beingfiredand having his reputation within the industry severely tarnished), there was little consolation in sayingthe problem was that Gibbons was poor at managing subordinates. Everyone already knew that. We believe that the situation could have turned out differently had Bonnevie been more adept at understanding Gibbons and at managing his relationship with him. In this case, an inability to manage upward was unusually costly. The company lost $2 million to $5 million, and Bonnevie's career was, at least temporarily, disrupted. Many less costly cases similar to this probably occur regularly in all major corporations, and the cumulative effect can be very destructive. Misreading the Boss-Subordinate Relationship People often dismiss stories like the one we just related as being merely cases of personality confiict. Because two people can on occasion be psychologically or temperamentally incapable of working together, this can be an apt description. But more often, we have found, a personality confiict is only a part ofthe problem - sometimes a very small part. Bonnevie did not just have a different personality from Gibbons, he also made or had unrealistic assumptions and expectations about the very nature of boss-subordinate relationships. Specifically, he did not recognize that his relationship to Gibbons involved mutual dependence between two fallible human beings. Failing to recognize this, a manager typically either avoids trying to manage his or her relationship with a boss or manages it ineffectively. Some people behave as if their bosses were not very dependent on them. They fail to see how much the boss needs their help and cooperation to do his or her job effectively. These people refuse to acknowledge that the boss can be severely hurt by their actions and needs cooperation, dependability, and honesty from them. Some people see themselves as not very dependent on their bosses. They gloss over how much help and information they need from the boss in order to perform their own jobs well. This superficial view is particularly damaging when a manager's job and decisions affect other parts of the organization, as was the case in Bonnevie's situation. A manager's immediate boss can play a critical role in linking the manager to the rest ofthe organization, making sure the manager's priorities are consistent with organizational needs, and in securing the resources the manager needs to perform well. Yet some managers need to see themselves as practically self-sufficient, as not needing the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW Managing Your Boss • BEST OF H B R critical information and resources a boss can supply. Many managers, like Bonnevie, assume that the boss will magically know what information or help their subordinates need and provide it to them. Certainly, some bosses do an excellent job of caring for their subordinates in this way, but for a manager to expect that from all bosses is dangerously unrealistic. A more reasonable expectation for managers to have is that modest help will be forthcoming. After all, bosses are only human. Most really effective managers accept this fact and assume primary responsibility for their own careers and development. They make a point of seeking the information and help they need to do a Job instead of waiting for their bosses to provide it. In light ofthe foregoing, it seems to us that managing a situation of mutual dependence among fallible human beings requires the following: 1. You have a good understanding of the other person and yourself, especially regarding strengths, weaknesses, work styles, and needs. 2. You use this information to develop and manage a healthy working relationship-one that is compatible with both people's work styles and assets, is characterized by mutual expectations, and meets the most critical needs ofthe other person. This combination is essentially what we have found highly effective managers doing. Understanding the Boss Managing your boss requires that you gain an understanding ofthe boss and his or her context, as well as your own situation. All managers do this to some degree, but many are not thorough enough. At a minimum, you need to appreciate your boss's goals and pressures, his or her strengths and weaknesses. What are your boss's organizational and personal objectives, and what are his or her pressures, especially those from his or her own boss and otbers at the same level? What are your boss's long suits and blind spots? What is the preferred style of working? Does your boss like to 2005 get information through memos, formal meetings, or phone calls? Does he or she thrive on conflict or try to minimize it? Without this information, a manager is flying blind when dealing with the boss, and unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings, and problems are inevitable. In one situation we studied, a topnotch marketing manager with a superior performance record was hired into a company as a vice president "to straighten out the marketing and sales problems." The company, which was having financial difficulties, had recently been acquired by a larger corporation. The president was eager to turn it around and gave the new marketing vice president free rein-at least initially. Based on his previous experience, the new vice president correctly diagnosed that greater market share was needed for the company and that strong product management was required to bring that about. Following that logic, he made a number of pricing decisions aimed at increasing high-volume business. When margins declined and the financial situation did not improve, however, the president increased pressure on the new vice president. Believing that the situation would eventually correct itself as the company gained back market share, the vice president resisted the pressure. » MANAGING YOURSELF When by the second quarter, margins and profits had still failed to improve, the president took direct control over all pricing decisions and put all items on a set level of margin, regardless of volume. The new vice president began to find himself shut out by the president, and their relationship deteriorated. In fact, the vice president found the president's behavior bizarre. Unfortunately, the president's new pricing scheme also failed to increase margins, and by the fourth quarter, both the president and the vice president were fired. What the new vice president had not known until it was too late was that improving marketing ...
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School: University of Maryland

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Case Study 3 Outline
Strengths in Lynn’s performance as Accounting and Budgets Manager
Lynn’s weaknesses
Thoughts on what June wants to talk to Lynn about
Thoughts on what Lynn should work on to be ready for the promotion


Running head: CASE STUDY 3


Case Study 3


Case Study 3

Strengths in Lynn’s performance as Accounting and Budgets Manager
One of the most outstanding strengths that Lynn displays is her ability to develop results
focused plans of action. Action plans are essential for improving the effectiveness and efficiency
of work processes in an organization. The plans create an order that should be followed to
enhance the productivity of organizational resources (Adeniyi, 2007). By creating a plan for
executing different duties, Lynn shows that she is an organized manager. Great managers focus
on the realization of suitable results, which Lynn has shown to be capable of doing as she
engages in practices that relate to achieving the desired results. Conversely, Lynn is confident
and decisive ...

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