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Sandy Chan – Reflection

by on October 16, 2007

In class on Monday 10/15, we had class discussion on 4 video clips which had CEOs talking about their managing experiences. First of all, I enjoyed watching case studies much more than reading them. Hearing the story from a person who experienced it, along with his/her voice tone and facial expressions beat pages of descriptions.

Case 3 was about an engineer who was arrogant and rude to coworkers but at the same time had critical / hard-to-replace expertise to the company. The CEO was facing the problem of what to do with this engineer. In class, we came up with several possible solutions: (1) Send the engineer to training. (2) Isolate the engineer. (3) Videotape the behavior of the engineer and let him see how he’s been treating other coworkers. (4) Outsource parts of his job to create a fear of losing his job for him.

The CEO talked to the engineer, isolated him, and made him attend personal counseling. This approach eventually failed but bought the company 6 months to find someone to replace the engineer. Kevin mentioned that the key to this approach was the CEO talking to the engineer personally. As much as I agree, having a CEO talk to an arrogant engineer could be risky. If the CEO emphasized too much on the un-replaceable value of the engineer to the company, the engineer might get the wrong idea and become conceited. Fortunately, in this case, the engineer seemed to acknowledge his inappropriate behavior and was willing to try to cooperate. It is a shame that the case didn’t end well. The CEO didn’t go too deep into what actually happened in the 6 months. We know it didn’t work out but were there at least some improvements? If the engineer was so hard to work with, he’d probably been changing jobs quite a few times already. He should’ve appreciated this job because he got along with his manager-not all people get along with their managers! It is really sad to see things not working out when both sides are willing to compromise.

I very much agreed with the CEO’s talk at the end of the video. He mentioned how a person’s working attitude can amplify and affect other employees. This is true and applies to teams, organizations, or anywhere that has two people or above. This is why company morale is also important. People have personal/working issues they need to deal with, the last thing they need is a negative person to let them feel low.

Case 4 was about an architectural design company facing some cultural diversity issues in Japan. The CEO suggested three possible solutions: (1) Remove the PM, and replace the women in the team. (2) Try to convince the Japanese that the team-men and women- is the topnotch in its field. (3)Resign the project.

If I were the CEO, I would choose option 1.5 – a combination of (1) and (2). As a woman, I am sorry that I chose (1) but at the same time, coming from an Asian country and knowing the work culture, I know it is hard for business men to trust the ability of women. Luckily, this imbalance situation has reformed, although not completely, in recent years. Since this is the first project with the Japanese customer, I don’t want to push them into to changing their values in a short time. Changes like this need to take time, and could only happen gradually. By choosing 1.5, I would regroup the team, without replacing anyone, so that the men do more of the presentation and talking, making them seemed to be more in charged. At the same time, I would talk to the women employees and let them understand the situation and reason behind the change. Keeping the women employee low but not leaving them out on recognitions when the group has good performance. In fact, I’d try to give more credits to the women so the Japanese can realize the women are as outstanding as the male. After gaining the trust of the Japanese customer on women, I would try to let the women participate in (future) projects as much as they want. And hopefully, the Japanese would feel comfortable working with women as well.

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