Business case study

Selecting any two of 4 options below.

Cite all sources, use your own sense of fairness and common sense as well. Ask: what’s the right thing to do for the business? for the employee? the team?

Answer each vignette as if you were the manager or HR advisor to the manager.

Provide short, clear description of appropriate action. Answers should be 2-3 paragraphs, each.

Addressing performance problems: coach, discipline, progressive discipline, terminate.

1) Employer: Target

You have an employee, Sally, who is a very good checker. Fast, friendly with customers, always willing to fill in for others at the last minute. However, Sally is often late. She comes in the store doors just minutes before her shift, rushes up to the employee locker room to clock in, and often steps behind the cash register 5-10 or more minutes late. Sally thinks it’s no big deal because she’s so willing to fill in for others. She’ll take an extra shift, start early, end late – all to help out any co-worker or the store when needed. But, it sets a bad example and some employees need to end shift on time for other obligations. And, there can be overtime costs when she’s relieving someone who’s already worked 40/hours in the week.

What action do you take?

2) Employer: Dairy (unionized)

You hear that one of your drivers, Guy, has been skimming product. The inventory records show that it is pretty likely that he takes home some ice cream and chocolate milk one or twice a week. Perhaps about $30 retail value.

He’s only been working here for about a month. He came highly recommended from your Teamster union rep. Guy had driven delivery trucks for an animal feed producer for the last 5 years and had a spotless record for attendance, safety, on-time delivery. Guy was happy to get the job at the Dairy because the hours were much better. He also shared that his kids were fans of the dairy’s chocolate milk and ice cream in the interview.

As a perk, employees can buy product at a discounted price, but you don’t see record of any payments. Employees are also often given any inventory that has damaged packaging, are almost out of date, or that customers refused or returned for any reason. But, the warehouse supervisor is in charge of those decisions, not individual drivers.

Most drivers take home damaged or near-expiration goods from time to time. Ice cream in particular as it is damaged most easily. Chocolate milk has a longer expiration date that unflavored milk, but it can sit on shelves too long as it’s not a staple. In the last 10 years, only one driver was found to be abusing the policy – and he was terminated for re-selling product at a farmer’s market ice cream stand for 5 months straight.

What action do you take?

3) Employer: ad agency

Three female employees come to you and complain about their supervisor and other males in the department making all sorts of sexually explicit comments about female co-workers’ appearance.

They report there is a game where they rate all new female workers from 1-10. They say the supervisor keeps a copy of the 1-10 rankings and they often debate each other after work over beers about who’s really a 9 or 10 and who is not. The rankings are kept in a red notebook, and a call to rank a new female is a “red alert” often sent in email by that code.

This shocks you as the head of the department has been one of the most respected and rewarded employees in the management ranks.

What do you do?

4) Employer: Software Company

You employ a lot of brilliant coders and many of them can be odd characters. And, that’s okay. You provide ping pong tables, video games, free snacks, concerts after work in the summer and many other things to let them have fun and blow off some steam at work. The work on deadlines can be demanding and people tend to put in long, long hours to make release dates. One of your most gifted coders, Annette, is often slow at the beginning of a project. She will seem to daydream and goof off and not start to produce real code until 2 or more weeks past when others expect it. This can put the entire team behind schedule and cause more long hours at the end. She claims she needs time for ideas to germinate before she begins to code. Some creative, thinking time that looks like slacking off but is actually key to her success, she says. She also makes comments that since she’s the only female and the only handicapped (she uses a wheel chair) member of her team she feels like an outsider. The entire team, however, gets anxious and upset with her lack of engagement at the beginning of a sprint and have complained about it multiple times.

What actions do you take?

5) Employer: Retail Store

You are eating lunch with a colleague when you get a call from the store. There is a huge commotion and they want you, the store manager, to hurry back. A female employee, Delisha, was working on the floor with a customer when her husband stormed in. Delisha is one of the best sales clerks on the team and repeat customers ask for her by name. Delisha has just one month before she has the baby.

The husband, Dan, was furious because he’d just learned (or come to suspect) that the baby his wife is carrying is not his. He believes she was having an affair with another store employee, Josh. Josh is your assistant manager and the supervisor of all the retail sales clerks. Josh has worked at several other stores in the chain and is in the regional leadership development program. He can be a little hot headed, but otherwise charming, dependable and well-liked by the clerks he manages.

When the husband stormed in, Josh was not there. So, Dan confronted his wife. His wife suggested they take the heated conversation outside, in the back of the store in the parking lot. The fight escalates there. Other workers and mall customers are in view. At one point, the husband is pulling his wife’s arm and demanding that she leave work and go home with him. A bystander calls the police and says she’s worried about the safety of a women who looks to be nearly 9 months pregnant.

Meanwhile, Josh shows up for work. Josh shouts at the husband to stop pulling on Delisha’s arm. The husband shoves him hard. Josh hits him back – bloody nose. Bystanders are now a crowd. Police come. Police end up escorting the husband off the property after all say they do not want to file charges.

What actions do you take?

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