Case Study and answer question 1 and 2

Learning Goal: I’m working on a management case study and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

THE PROBLEM

John James has worked at one of the world’s largest
aerospace firms for more than 15 years. He was hired
into the division during the “Clinton years” when
many people were being brought onto the payroll. John
had not completed his engineering degree, so he was
hired as a drafter. Most of the other people in his department who were hired at the time had completed
their degrees and therefore began careers as associate
engineers. Over the years, John has progressed through
the ranks to the classification of engineer. Many of the
employees hired at the same time as John have advanced more rapidly because the corporation recognized their engineering degrees as prerequisites for
advancement. Years of service can be substituted, but
a substantial number of years is required to offset the
lack of a degree.
John began exhibiting signs of dissatisfaction with
the corporation in general several years ago. He would
openly vent his feelings against nearly everything the
corporation was doing or trying to do. However, he did
not complain about his specific situation. The complaining became progressively worse. John started to exhibit
mood swings. He would be extremely productive at
times (though still complaining) and then swing into
periods of near zero productivity. During these times,
John would openly surf the Internet for supplies for a
new home repair project or for the most recent Dilbert
comics. His fellow employees were hesitant to point out
to management when these episodes occurred. Most of
the team members had been working together for the
entire 15 years and had become close friends. This is
why these nonproductive episodes of John’s were such
a problem; no one on the team felt comfortable pointing the problem out to higher management. As time
progressed and John’s friends evolved into his managers, while John remained at lower salary grades, John’s
mood swings grew more dramatic and lasted longer.
During the most recent performance appraisal
review process, John’s manager (a friend of his)
included a paragraph concerning his “lack of concentration at times.” This was included because of numerous comments made by John’s peers. The issue could no
longer be swept under the rug. John became irate at the
review feedback and refused to acknowledge receipt
of his performance appraisal. His attitude toward his
teammates became extremely negative. He demanded
to know who had spoken negatively about him, and his
work output diminished to virtually nothing.

ANALYSIS OF THE PROBLEM

Clearly John has not been happy. To understand why,
the history of his employment at this company needs
to be looked at in greater detail. The group of coworkers that started together 15 years earlier all had similar
backgrounds and capabilities. A group of eight people
were all about 22 years old and had just left college;
John was the only exception to this pattern, as he still
needed two years of schooling to finish his engineering degree. All were single and making good money
at their jobs. The difference in salary levels between an
associate engineer and a draftsman was quite small.
Figure 4.5 shows the salary grade classifications at this
corporation.
This group played softball together every
Wednesday, fished together on the weekends, and
hunted elk for a week every winter. Lifelong bonds and
friendships were formed. One by one, the group started
to get married and begin families. They even took turns
standing up for each other at the weddings. The wives
and the children all became great friends, and the fishing trips were replaced with family backyard barbecues.
Meanwhile, things at work were going great. All
of these friends and coworkers had very strong work
ethics and above-average abilities. They all liked their
work and did not mind working extra hours. This
combination of effort and ability meant rewards and
advancement for those involved. However, since John
had not yet completed his degree as he had planned,
his promotions were more difficult to achieve and did
not occur as rapidly as those of his friends. The differences in salary and responsibility started to expand at
a rapid rate. John started to become less satisfied.
This large corporation was structured as a functional organization. All mechanical engineers reported
to a functional department manager. This manager was
aware of the situation and convinced John to go back
for his degree during the evenings. Although John had
good intentions, he never stayed with it long enough to
complete his degree. As John’s friends advanced more
quickly through the corporation, their cars and houses
also became bigger and better. John’s wife pressured him
to keep up with the others, and they also bought a bigger
house. This move meant that John was living above his
means and his financial security was threatened.
Until this point, John had justified in his mind
that the corporation’s policies and his functional manager were the source of all of his problems. John would
openly vent his anger about this manager. Then a drastic change took place in the corporation. The corporation switched over to a project team environment and
eliminated the functional management. This meant
that John was now reporting directly to his friends.
Even though John now worked for his friends,
company policy was still restrictive and the promotions
did not come as fast as he hoped. The team leader gave
John frequent cash spot awards and recognition in an
attempt to motivate him. John’s ego would be soothed
for a short time, but this did not address the real problem. John wanted money, power, and respect, and he
was not satisfied because those around him had more.
Although he was good at what he did, he was not great
at it. He did not appear to have the innate capability to
develop into a leader through expert knowledge or personality traits. Additionally, due to the lack of an engineering degree, he could not achieve power through
time in grade. By now, John’s attitude had deteriorated
to the point where it was disruptive to the team and
something had to be done. The team leader had to hel

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