Jennifer Smith, a young scientist, is a single parent with two children. Although she finds social interactions with co-workers rewarding, she is concerned about the security of her position and pay. She is an excellent employee who enjoys her work. When a vacancy occurred for the project manager position in her department at Best Bio-Medical Research Firm, she considered the opportunities this presented for professional growth and development, as well as for a higher salary, and applied for the position. Smith looked forward to the challenges she would face when promoted.
However, a more experienced co-worker was promoted. Smith’s disappointment showed and she became concerned about her future. Several co-workers noticed her reaction and made special efforts to ease her disappointment. They told her that other opportunities would come and that, with a little more experience, she would be promoted. After a few weeks, Smith returned to the level of enjoyment she obtained from her work before this episode.
Kathy Harris, a scientist employed by the Best Bio-Medical Research Firm with over five years experience, recently received a promotion to acting project manager within her department. As acting project manager, Harris is responsible for scheduling of work assignments but also the hiring, promotion and, if necessary, the termination of employees within her department. A few days after Harris started in her new interim position she encountered problems. The previous project manager had retired unexpectedly and most of the other scientists within Harris’s department assumed that Jennifer Smith would be automatically promoted to the position.
The CEO of Best Bio-Medical Research Firm related to Harris that although Smith had been considered she was thought too inexperienced for that much responsibility and that Harris was selected because she had five years experience as a scientist and during the period she has been employed by the Best Bio-Medical Research Firm, she had demonstrated her ability to consistently completed her project assignments on time and under budget with high client satisfaction. However, the CEO made it clear to Harris that she was appointed only as the acting project manager of the department and that the company planned to conduct a national search for the position and that she was most welcomed and encouraged to apply for. If she was the best candidate from the applicant pool, the position would be offered to her. The CEO also asked Harris that although she was responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of the department during this period, that she not make any personnel changes and keep things status quo until the permanent project manager was appointed.
It soon became evident that, although, Smith was cooperative, many employees were not. Employees who were unhappy with an assignment would tell Harris that, if Smith had been appointed, such problems would not occur. Many comments were made as Harris continued her duties. Some were very embarrassing. One person suggested that she had a “friend” in senior management who gave her the job due to their “relationship” rather than because she was competent.
Using Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory (or Alderfer’s ERG Theory of frustration/regression) explain Jennifer Smith’s motivation needs.
Using Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, explain what style of leadership Kathy Harris would use given the current situation in her department.
Discuss why senior management of Best Bio-Medical Research Firm and the employees of Harris’ department perception about and attitudes towards Kathy differ so completely.
Describe specific ways Kathy Harris can change her employees’ attitudes.