What a Star What a Jerk by Sarah Cliffe Case Study

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In this 4-5 page analysis, you will read the business case presented below ("What a Star, What a Jerk") and identify the various communication issues throughout.

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Case Study Analysis A case study analysis is not merely a descriptive but, as the term itself suggests, a critical exercise, typically an examination of a situation or institution with view towards making recommendations. Case study analyses are included in many courses to give students a sense of the constraints involved in decision making. Cases are usually based on real situations, although for the sake of confidentiality the names of persons and institutions may be disguised. Analysis Method Many methods can be used to analyze case studies. The outline below, although it provides a step-by-step procedure that can be applied in many situations, is not the only feasible approach. Always consult your instructor for the particular requirements of a given assignment. 1. Read the case study attentively at least two or three times. Become familiar with the key points of the situation without adopting a position on the case. Read as carefully and objectively as you can. 2. After becoming thoroughly familiar with the case, make notes regarding the main issues as you see them. Typically, the instructor will provide prompts or questions to help you focus on these. 3. Consider the question(s) assigned by your instructor. Record all information pertinent to these in the form of case notes. 4. Decide which principles, theories, or models (usually part of the assignment) best apply to the observed facts of the case to prepare your answers. Remember that your analysis is likely to be founded on a specific theory, and avoid solutions based mainly upon personal intuition. 5. Develop your solution in consideration of the principles, theories, or models that you have selected. The assigned questions may require you to consider alternative solutions. Remember the importance of showing not merely your judgement but the basis for it. Occasionally, case studies are assigned for analysis without specific questions. The student must then devise a framework that will enable the analytical and/or synthetic treatment of strategic issues. One general approach is as follows: 1. Follow steps one and two (above). 2. Identify the key problems and their root causes. 3. Develop solutions to the identified problems. Wherever possible, specify objective or quantitative criteria to assess the solutions (qualitative indicators of success may be too subjective). W&SS Quicknotes 1 Case Study Analysis 4. Follow steps four and five above to identify and apply theoretical concepts. A list of alternative solutions should emerge from this stage. 5. The final selection of a solution from alternatives is based upon how well it meets the criteria you have established. In most cases you will select an optimal approach and provide a realistic assessment of your solution’s strengths and weaknesses. 6. Present the chosen solution(s) in detail. 7. Use an appropriate format for your case study analysis. Use suitable headings and subheadings. Do not forget the value of graphics; a chart or table can present information more effectively than unsupported text. Tricks and Traps Most comprehensive case studies contain some information that is of marginal importance to the main issues—or at least, to the issues you are directed to examine. Remember to consider the implications of your theoretical framework(s): unacknowledged assumptions can limit your thinking and your critique of alternative solutions. When you begin to prepare your “recommendations” section, stop and review the assignment yet again; many case study analyses fail to address the issues identified by the instructor. Sample Format 1. Abstract/Executive Summary: single paragraph summary including recommendations 2. Problem Statement: Overview of key issues arising from case analysis 3. Case Analysis: Theory-driven analysis of case(s) identifying factors underlying key issues 4. Alternative Solutions: Pros and cons of possible solutions to problems 5. Recommendations: Detailed description of optimal solution with rationale 2 Case Study Analysis HBR CASE STUDY What a StarWhat a Jerk by Sarah Cliffe Sometimes an employee can be nasty, bullying, or simply hard-hearted. What should you do, though, when that person also happens to be a top performer? From: Jane Epstein To: Rick Lazarus Sent: 5/14/01 Subject settling in Hi Rick. I'm starting to get settled in at TechniCo-1 miss you and the rest ofthe gang, and the adrenaline of working with clients when I'm *on,* but I'm thrilled not to be living in airports anymore. Hope Mary and the kids are well. I've inherited a good team here. They're all strong performers, and most of them are nice, too. I'm sure they're still wondering about me-but so far, so good. Partial cast: Caroline's been here longest; she seems pragmatic, very gtx)d with people. Juggling work-^family issues and a recent divorce - but she pulls her weight and then some. She's universally trusted (I think). Tom's the joker. A natural sales guy-a bouncy golden retriever personality that cloaks real drive, know what 1 mean? You never really get inside. SEPTEMBER 2001 37 HBR CASE STUDY • What a Star-What a Jerk but there don't seem to be many internal climate changes anyway, jack's intense, maybe an intellectual -1 haven't quite figured him out. I think he may be shy (?). Anyhow, then there's Andy Zimmerman, who's got me slightly worried - maybe because he intimidates me just a bit. He's very bright, but he's aggressive - doesn't suffer fools gladly. He'll bear watching, I think. Better run. By the way, I love being back in Minneapolis. And, glory be, the hometown team is making us proud. From: Rick Lazarus To: Jane Epstein Sent: 5/14/01 Subject: Hey stranger Good to hear from you, Jane. The TVvins have got people talking, ali right. Though of course they'll fold when the Yankees hit their stride.;) What's got you nervous about this Zimmerman guy? -R Sent 5/15/01 Subject re: Hey stranger Nothing I can put myfingeron. Here's a little incident. My AA, Maureen, flubbed a meeting time - scheduled over something else-and he really lit into her. Not the end of the world - she had made a mistake, and he had to rearrange an appointment - but he could have gotten the point across more tactfully. And she is *my* AA. (And I am *his* boss, and he did it in front of me.) -Jane Sent 5/15/01 Subject don't be a softie j - The guy doesn't necessarily sound like a problem to me. I hate it when people screw up scheduling, and you've always been too patient with that kind of thing. Clearly you have to establish your own authority with him, though, or he'll step all over you. What's the place like in general? Are the folks there patient with incompe- tence? Or is it crisp and cruel, like here? ;) By the by, Mary sends her love. -R Sent 5/16/01 Subject tougher than you think Funny you should ask. It's hardly crisp and cruel. In fact, it's probably a little too nicey-nice. Support staff's not up to the same standards (not paid as well, either). And there's a little more coasting Sarah Cliffe is an executive editor at HBR. among professional staff here. (Culling HBR's cases present common managerial out the bottom 20% of performers every dilemmas and offer concrete solutions year sure keeps people on their toes!) from experts. As written, they are hypo- Senior managers talk a lot about lack of thetical, and the names used are fictitious.hierarchy, which seems to translate into 38 tolerating barely average performance if the people are well liked. (Then again, this could be all wrong: I'm describing a place I've only been part of for a few weeks.) -jane Sent 5/22/01 Subject FW: good for a laugh... You have just received the Amish virus. Since we have no electricity or computers, you are on the honor system. Please delete all of your files on your hard drive. Then forward this message to everyone in your address book. Thank thee. HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW What a Star-What a Jerk • HBR CASE STUDY Sent: 5/22/01 Subject: bottom line? Ignoring his niceness quotient for a moment, how's the guy's performance? -Rick Sent: 5/22/01 Subject re: bottom line? I don't think he'd have gotten away with his nastiness for so long if his performance weren't topflight. As another group leader said to me over coffee, "The guy won't win any personality contests, but you'll love his numbers." He brings home the bacon: He's smart, efficient-the best we've got (in terms of pure performance). I'd have to be crazy not to want him in my group. -J Sent: 5/22/01 Subject: re: re: bottom line? Well, then, I don't see the problem. I think you're overreacting. -R Sent: 5/23/01 Subject: re: re: re: bottom line? That's what I like abt^ut you. Rick-never one to sugarcoat... Sent: 5^0/01 Sent: 5/22/01 Subject: ha! \ • ' Speaking of honor (not), here's another anecdote in the the continuing "Who is Andy Zimmerman" saga. Yesterday we were doing some strategizing as a group. (We need to be more aggressive about growth, and this was a pretty openended meeting to think about new markets.) Jack (the intense, possibly shy one that I haven't figured out yet) was going on a bit too long about a pet idea of his. I was about to redirect the conversation when Andy cut him offi "What you're SEPTEMBER 2001 proposing makes no sense, and here's why." Then he laid out all the flaws in poor Jack's thinking, one by one - really made him squirm. The thing is, he was right. On the other hand, it was a preliminary, semibrainstorming kind of meeting, so his tirade stopped the free flow of ideas in its tracks. Later, I heard him *reaming* out the group's other AA, Danielle: "This is an important customer. He's called three times - WHY CAN'T YOU GET IT RIGHT!?!?" Once again, he was right. But that kind of tongue-lashing *causes* people to make mistakes. -Jane Subject: Holy jeily, Batman...we're in a jam! Can I bore you again with Andy, my low-likability, high-performance guy? Until now, I'd thought he was just nasty to lower-level people (which I quietly asked him to tone down, btw, after the incidents with the AAs) but at least grudgingly civil to colleagues. But he's gone and alienated Caroline, the one who's going through the divorce. Background: She has huge social capital built up here; she's the one everyone turns to with their problems, either professional or perstmal. She's a good egg, but she isn't at her best right now (a custody issue got messy and her mother's sick). She probably should have taken some time off, but it's a bad time of year-so I asked her to hold off. Okay, so here she is, this normally centered perstm who's hanging on by a thread, and Andy got under her skin. She forwarded me this e-mail he'd sent her, and when I went to 39 HBR CASE STUDY • What a Star - What a Jerk talk to her about it, she cried. It was a •horrible* scene. Anyhow, take a look: Sent: 5/30/01 Subject: could be worse... Caroline, you screwed up big time. J - In some ways, he sounds like your We had a meeting with people I'd bad cop: He keeps laggards in line, you been trying to cultivate for eight get to be the nice guy. I could imagine months, set up well in advance, and worse set-ups. you blew it off at the last minute, I'm surprised she showed you that which embarrassed me and endan- memo, since it makes her look bad. I gered the business. 1 can just hear you know you're going to tell me it's abusive, whining, "Things are a mess at home but is it, really? right now" - but you know what? Tough. Everybody's got problems, and Sent: 5/30/01 they should stay out of the office. If I Subject re: could be worse... don't land this business, it will be be- Abusive? I don't know. But it is threatcause of your incompetence, and you ening. And it makes someone who's can bet that Epstein and everyone good, and who's defended him in the else who counts will hear about it. past, feel like garbage.... Oh, I don't know what I think.-J After she was done crying-which embarrassed us both a lot - she expressed Sent 5/31/01 remorse for making the mistake. Then Subject whew we talked... she explained how she has Okay, so Andy and I had a long talk. I sort of "handled" Zimmerman until re- think it went reasonably well. With Carcently (which is why she felt betrayed by oline's permission, 1 told him about the his accusations). Evidently, he'd often leave she should be on. And he said he vent to her about what he saw as all- had to admit that he'd never seen anyaround stupidity. She'd listen, calm him thing like that from her before. Looked down, and occasionally chide him ex- very slightly ashamed (but maybe 1 tremely gently for being out of line. And imagined that part). other people would come to her and 1 wanted to establish some kind of complain when he'd said something rapport, as well as call him on inappronasty, and she'd calm *them* down (ex- priate behavior, so ! got him talking plaining the pressure he was under, about his own role in the group and whatever). Since he exempted her from how he sees the work developing over his nastiness, she was shocked when he the next several months. And-surprise, turned on her. Anyhow, she wasn't try- surprise-we had a good conversation. ing to blow the whistle on him - not He's got great insights, energy, and really-but I could see that she was fed smarts. We talked for quite some time, up with the smoothing-over role. (I in a way that was, to be honest, more gather that my predecessor completely productive and visionary and (simultaignored the whole situation - in part neously) down-to-earth than would because Caroline kept it under control. have happened had the whole group Sure wish I could do that.) been present. We were sort of firing Obviously, I have to have a chat with off each other in the same way you and the big bad wolf. You know, when I left I used to-it was fun.:) BCP to take a job with a real company, Of course, I went back to the question 1 imagined focusing on numbers, prod- of how he acts in the group. 1 said, basiucts, customers-on *building* some- cally, "Ux>k, you're talented and quick thing. Instead, I feel as if people issues- and impatient, and you just have to slow stupid little blowups like this-take up down and bite your tongue and be a litmost of my time. Sheesh. These are all tle nicer to people." (Since we'd been highly paid people, mostly with ad- having a really good conversation-with vanced degrees.... Why do 1 feel like a the temporary intimacy that creates-it kindergarten teacher? was easy to say.) He was somewhat dis40 missive but, when I pushed it, he agreed to try to listen better in meetings and stop reaming out the AAs. Sent 5/31/01 Subject words to live by... I always said you'd make a great kindergarten teacher . So problem boy is tamed? If perchance he isn't, just remember what Groucho Marx said:"Time wounds all heels."-R Sent 6/01/01 Subject re: words to live by... Groucho didn't say that,Jane Sherwd Ace did.:) And yes, let's decide problem boy is tamed, and forget about it. -Jane Sent 6/12/01 Subject too good to be true Hey Rick, how was Hawaii? Bet the kids loved the beach - I'm jealous. I could use a little time off myself. Of course it was tcx) gcwd to be true problem boy being reformed (sigh). Yesterday I came into a meeting I'd asked him to chair until I could get there. I slipped in quietly - not wanting to disturb things-and the way the room was set up, he didn't see me at first. Every person in that room looked cowed: eyes down, hunched over-slightly squelched in this rather sad way. And it's a gtwd group, really! He was responding to something Tom had said, and his ugly side was out in full force. He sneered, used dismissive language - even rolled his eyes when Tom tried to break in with a counterargument. And this was *aftei* I'd slipped into his range of vision-who knows what terrors he was up to before I got there? It suddenly became clear to me: This guy's a bully. Afterwards, I saw Caroline and Tom talking - about Andy, I'm sure. Meanwhile, when I walked into Andy's office a few minutes after the meeting- and looked at him, stone cold - he just shrugged and shook his head. Damn. He ain't changin'. And this isn't kindergarten-it's a business. I feel like I'm between a rock (the lousy effect he has on the group) and a hard place (his stellar performance). HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
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What a Star-What a Jerk by Sarah Cliffe Case Analysis

Student’s Name


Executive Summary

Jane is faced with a dilemma due to Andy’s dismissive behavior towards other workers despite his excellent performance in his job position. The behavior has continued to worsen
because Jane has failed to intervene and confront Andy concerning his behavior. Derivable facts
from the case reveal that the attitudes of workers contribute to the success or failure of a firm.
Andy’s actions have made it difficult to create a collaborative team in the organization. The
alternative of firing Andy from his position is constrained by the fact that the company would
lose a considerable amount of revenue. The most effective solution for Jane would be
establishing a cultural change in the organization to shape the way workers relate with each
other. However, Jane should perform ensure a gradual change process to prevent resistance from
team members.


Problem Statement

The issue identified in this case is that Andy, one of the employees has exhibited
dismissive behaviors towards his fellow employees. However, Andy has shown an exceptional
performance with regards to numbers, driving the organization's productivity over the period. As
a result, Jane is in a dilemma because Andy has created a negative environment within the team,
despite his significant contribution to the firm.
Case Analysis/Theory-dri...

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