BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
Dairy Engineering (NZ) Ltd. has its headquarters in Hamilton, New Zealand, with manufacturing plants in South Auckland and Christchurch. The company manufactures equipment for the dairy industry. In its early years it focused on the domestic market, but in the last five years it has expanded into the export market. The company employs around 450 people, which makes it a large company, by New Zealand standards.
This case focuses on events in the accounting department at the head office, which is organized into two sections; cost accounting and management information services (MIS). The case talks about the difference in values between employees and organisation management. Fran, a young new employee is keen and eager on rising to the top, and she forgets that there are certain norms to be followed in the hierarchical structure of her organisation. She jumps at the opportunities thrown at her, without seeking permission from her immediate boss.
However, Fran’s job description is also unclear right from the start, which adds to her insecurity in the company and makes her think twice about her role in the MIS department in Diary Engineering. Characters Fran Hayden – A fresh employee in the MIS department. Rob Poor – Chief Accountant Vernon Moore – Chief cost accountant Peter Bruton – Management Accountant Mike, Tom, Adrian and Janet – Colleagues of Fran in the MIS department.
A new candidate ‘Fran Hayden’ joins a well established dairy industry manufacturer ‘Dairy Engineering (NZ) Ltd. . She is a bachelor of management studies (BMS) graduate. She is a fresh graduate and has directly got an offer from the company after an interview from the company. She took up the offer with them thinking that she could gain a good starting salary with a good practical experience as well. She was offered the position of assistant cost accountant initially but was then pushed to the MIS department where she did not have a major role to play, and further, where she has only clerical work to do. One day, Rob calls in Fran to his office and invites her to go for a workshop in Auckland.
Rob tells her that he will inform Peter, her manager, as she hasn’t taken prior permission from him considering he was out of office for two weeks. Fran leaves for the workshop and finds the workshop very useful and informative. She gets to rub shoulders with top executives and gets to act the management part for some time. She also makes a report to give to the chief accountant on her return, which proves to be a very good report indeed. On returning to Hamilton, Fran finds that her manager Peter is not happy with her at all.
A series of consequences have occurred during her absence. She tries to talk to Rob and asks him to speak to Peter and sort matters out. Rob re assures her about this, but he doesn’t get down to explaining things to Peter which ultimately makes things even more unpleasant between him and Fran. Ultimately, Peter warns all of Fran’s colleagues in the MIS department to make sure that she gets all her pending work done and that she doesn’t waste time on anything else. He calls in Fran and admonishes her calling her ‘sneaky’ and ‘cunning’. Fran is left in a dilemma.
She feels the only way out is to either change her department in the company or to resign. She confronts some of her other colleagues for suggestions. Vernon the chief cost accountant, tells her about a post in his department that is going to be vacant in three weeks, and that she should apply for a position there. Fran takes this up and writes a formal letter to Rob requesting that she be transferred from MIS to the upcoming position in cost accounting. This causes more unpleasantness and makes Peter even more upset. After a short meeting with Rob, Peter finally fires Fran from the company.
- Unawareness of the job- The first problem that occurred in the organization for Fran was that she was not told about what kind of work she was appointed for. She was transferred to the MIS department without any notice where as she was initially appointed for the accounting department.
- Casual behaviour- Fran’s casual behaviour was the reason for the conflicts between her and her manager Peter. She should have personally told Peter before going for the workshop. His permission was a pre requisite before she left.
- Easily driven by others- Fran was easily driven by others, she talked to Vernon about her problems in the MIS department and he told her about the vacancy in his department. Mike told her about the stealing of his ideas by their manager and she was influenced by it, which worsened the image of her manager in her mind.
She should have asked the moment Rob called her about the kind of work she was supposed to do in the organization. OR She could have initially written a letter to Rob about dissatisfaction of the role she was playing in the organization.
She was very casual in her approach from the start. She should’ve told her manager about her participation at the workshop, she shouldn’t have gone there without his permission. And when he was angry with her she was thinking only in the passive way as she talked to her colleague Adrian, “Come on; get serious. He is my boss! He can make things very difficult for me. ” She could have been neutral about the situation and straight away could have talked to her manager Peter about the situation, even though he was gone at that time. She should have been assertive about her situation to Rob and made sure that he speaks to Peter. There was a clear information gap between all three of them. OR Sharing the report with Peter could’ve been helpful in the situation, instead of sharing with Rob because Peter was her immediate boss and was the one who was unhappy with her.
Instead of talking with people of the other department she could’ve easily spoken with her boss about her position in the company and that she wasn’t satisfied with the work and that she wanted more responsibility in the department. OR Instead of writing a letter to Rob who was the chief accountant she could’ve waited to see what was going to happen, considering she was already in a troublesome situation. She could’ve let things die down instead of aggravating them.
- On her very first day in the office, she should have been given proper instructions and guidelines about her job. The value system of the organizational structure should have been spelt out for her.
- Since Peter was her immediate boss, it was her responsibility to first contact him.All her issues regarding the department should have been reported to him first. All permissions for the people within the department can be granted only by him.
- However Peter was not always available, but in spite of this it was Fran’s duty to give a written application asking for permission before jumping at the first opportunity presented to her ( the workshop).
- Fran should have gone directly to Rob regarding her discomforts with the MIS Department, as he would have tried and sorted things out within the department. He would have spoken to Peter understanding her urgency.
From the case, it is clear that we need to understand the importance of following values in an organization. Fran was too casual in her approach towards the hierarchy of the organization. She shouldn’t have bypassed her boss Peter and gone straight to Rob. She should have understood and followed a formal mode of communication with the senior management Rob and Peter. She was not inclined towards the job that she was assigned to and hence she tended to approach Rob whose department she always envied to work in. She was also influenced by her external surroundings, specially her colleagues in the MIS department.
We also understand from the case the importance of values and transparency in an organisation. As an employee, it is of utmost importance to inform the immediate senior managers of one’s doings within and outside the department. Also, it is important for senior management to be approachable and available to employees in the department. Thus a mutual understanding of organisation values between management and employees will result in a peaceful mutual co-existence of both. This harmony in departments is of great importance in an organisation.