What To Do About Tom? Essay, Research Paper
What Do I Do About Tom?
As the General Manager of the Orlando manufacturing plant of Blitz Computers, I am faced with a very serious legal and ethical dilemma. In the past I have always made decisions based on principles and ethical standards that I’ve acquired through personal experience, and guidance from successful leaders. I have read almost everything that has ever been published on effective leadership and ethical standards. I’ve attended numerous seminars and feel I have a good grasp of my leadership and decision making abilities. I guide myself primarily by what can only be described best by the following excerpts from “The Leader of the Future” By Peter Drucker.
All the effective leaders I have encountered-both those I worked with and those I merely watched-knew four things:
1. The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. Some people are thinkers. Some are prophets. Both roles are important and badly needed. But without followers, there can be no leaders.
2. An effective leader is not someone who is loved or admired. He or she is someone whose followers do the right things. Popularity is not leadership. Results are.
3. Leaders are highly visible. They therefore set examples.
4. Leadership is not rank, privileges, titles, or money. It is responsibility.
Regardless of their almost limitless diversity with respect to personality, style, abilities, and interests, the effective leaders I have met, worked with, and observed also behaved much the same way:
1. They did not start out with the question, “What do I want?” They started out asking,
“What needs to be done?”
2. Then they asked, “What can and should I do to make a difference?” This has to be something that both needs to be done and fits the leaders strengths and the way she or he is most effective.
3. They constantly ask, “What are the organization’s mission and goals? What constitutes performance and results in this organization?”
4. They were extremely tolerant of diversity in people and did not look for carbon copies of themselves. It rarely even occurred to them to ask, “Do I like or dislike this person?” But they were totally-fiendishly-intolerant when it came to a person’s performance, standards, and values.
5. They were not afraid of strength in their associates. They gloried in it. Whether they heard of it or not, their motto was what Andrew Carnegie wanted to have put on his tombstone: “Here lies a man who attracted better people into his service than he was himself.”
6. One way or another, they submitted themselves to the “mirror test”- that is, they made sure that the person they saw in the mirror in the morning was the kind of person they wanted to be, respect, and believe in. This way they fortified themselves against the leaders greatest temptations-to do things that are popular rather than right and to do petty, mean, sleazy things.
“The Leader of the Future”, Peter Drucker, Jossey-Bass Publishers
There are many different ways to find an effective solution based on different philosophies and ethical decision models. In this case, I am going to apply a six-step strategy for ethical decision-making and offer my best analysis for an effective solution. This solution may be only one of an infinite number of solutions based on one’s own life references and decision-making ability.
1. Facts. The facts That need to be reviewed are:
a. There have been a number of complaints about the shipping department.
b. Customers have been receiving incomplete or incorrect shipments.
c. Promised deadlines have not been met.
d. A major account has been lost due to three incorrect shipments in two weeks.
e. Employee turnover is unusually high.
f. Tom is directly responsible for the shipping department.
g. Tom has 36 years of valued experience with the company and is nearing retirement.
h. Tom was my supervisor when I first joined the company and to a certain extent is responsible for my career success so far.
i. Tom was never resentful of my success and I consider him a close friend.
j. Tom confided in me that he has a drinking problem and feels it is the cause of his poor performance.
k. Tom has joined AA and assures me that his performance will improve greatly in the future.
l. Paul, a potential candidate for the shipping supervisor position, has been offered a job with another company.
m. Unless Paul can be assured of a higher position soon, feels he must pursue this opportunity.
n. Problems in the shipping department have been cited as one of my major shortcomings and may affect my annual salary increase.
2. Stakeholders. The stakeholders that may be affected by the decision are:
o. Blitz Computers
p. Tom (a long time employee and friend)
q. Me (the general manager)
r. Paul (a promising young employee)
s. The customers
t. The sales staff
u. The general shipping department staff
v. The shareholders
3. Values. The personal and work-related values involved in this particular case are:
a. Honesty. It took a lot of courage for Tom to admit his problem.
b. Accountability. If I am to be considered a true leader, I should share in the responsibility for what is happening in the shipping department. Although Tom is directly responsible, as his immediate supervisor I should have stepped in to assist and make sure that everything was going well.
Since I consider Tom to be a close friend maybe I should have been more aware of any signs of personal problems he was exhibiting. I could have helped before the situation got to where it is today.
c. Loyalty. Tom has given 36 years of loyalty to the company including the number of years he has shown me. The company and I should be loyal to him during his time of need. His selfless dedication to this company should not go unnoticed. Employees that are loyal to one organization for that many years are becoming unheard of in this new era of global business.
d. Respect for others. Tom has admitted to having a drinking problem and feels it is the cause of his poor performance. He still has 36 years of knowledge and experience that helped contribute to the success of this company that should be taken into consideration.
4. Alternative Actions. The possible alternative actions from which you could choose are:
a. Document Tom’s poor performance. Set a clear and concise course of action for his improvement. Establish a timeline by which to measure his progress. Let him know that this is not the way you would have liked to handle the situation but feel it is necessary in order to track his progress and provide him every opportunity to get himself back in the game. The documentation and the progress chart are necessary due to the severity of things in his department.
b. Promote Paul to the shipping manager position. Give Tom several options while he gets his life back on track. A position with less stress and fewer
hours per week. Move him to another department where he would not have as much responsibilities until he felt he was ready for new challenges.
c. Thank Tom for his years of service to the organization. Let him know that do to the lost accounts and high employee turnover he has left you no other options but to let him go. Offer him a more than adequate severance package and tell him that you would like to remain friends. If he ever needed anything he should not hesitate to give you a call. Another option along this line would be to ask Tom to resign. This method would lesson the negative affect on employee moral for letting a long time employee go. Offer to let him keep all the benefits he would be entitled to if he were to retire under normal conditions.
d. I could do nothing and hope that things would line themselves out. This would not be a very good proactive approach to a solution. Best-case scenario is that Tom would get things back on track on his own. Paul would stay on board knowing that Tom was reaching retirement. The benefits of staying with our organization would be better for him in the long run. Worst-case scenario is things could get worse. Paul would take the other job offer. Tom would not be able to get back on track. That would leave me with no option for an immediate replacement for Tom. I could be the one to be let go for not getting things under control and back on track in a reasonable amount of time.
5. Prioritization. Choose and prioritize by answering the following questions.
a. Which stakeholder do you believe is the most important in this situation?
The customer is the most important stakeholder in any situation. In making decisions I believe one has to consider not only the most important stakeholder but all the stakeholders that will be affected by the outcome.
The level of importance placed on the various stakeholders shifts based on personal and professional references.
b. Which value do you believe is the most important in this situation?
Accountability is important. If one is to be an effective leader you have to take positive steps to prevent disasters. It’s important to analyze and look at accountability from within. Don’t sit by just waiting to blame. Take responsibility first.
c. Which of the choices do you believe will cause the greatest good or the least harm?
Promote Paul to the shipping manager position. Give Tom several options while he gets his life back on track. One option is a position with less stress and fewer hours per week. Move him to another department where he would not have as much responsibilities until he felt he was ready for new challenges.
6. Potential Action.
After careful consideration of all the stakeholders and the different courses of action, I have been able to merge several possible solutions into one that would be in everyone’s best interest. Tom has a lot of experience to offer the newer employees looking to learn and excel in their careers. The valuable experience and knowledge I gained from working with Tom is greatly responsible for my success in the organization. That level of knowledge, experience, and commitment is not so easily replaced. Paul is looking to further his career. Working directly with Tom would definitely give him the edge he would need to succeed. I propose promoting Paul to the position of shipping manager. This would give the department a manager with newer drive and ambition. Some of this drive and ambition would spill over to the other employees. Tom would be given a new title and responsibility that would utilize his years of experience and ability to train. One of his duties would be to supervise Paul in the shipping department and teach him everything he knows. This would give Tom a sense of worth and feeling of still being able to contribute to the organization. I would still be Tom’s supervisor and could help guide him in his new role. Tom would have less hours and stress. He could focus better on his performance at work and his recovery with alcoholism. The energy that Paul would bring to the shipping department as well as being around Tom should bring about a new found sense of dedication and teamwork. Tom might even find a new sense of purpose in his new role and continue to benefit the organization beyond his original projected retirement date. I believe everyone from the customers to the stakeholders would benefit greatly from this solution.