Fran Hayden is a recent graduate from the University of Waikato, where she completed her Bachelor’s in Management Studies (BMS). In the final year of her degree she applied to Dairy Engineering Ltd. which had its headquarters in Hamilton, New Zealand. She was invited for an interview and then offered an assistant accounting position. She was unsure if it was the right position for her. On her first day of work, Fran found out that there was no vacancy in the Cost Accounting Department she had been hired to work in, and she was assigned to Management Information Services (MIS) instead.
Her job included compiling information for the monthly report which was termed as the ‘Big Brother’ in the department. The Chief accountant Rob Poor, offered for Fran to attend a management workshop on performance measurement. She capitalized on the opportunity even though her boss Peter Burton was away. Rob said he will tell Peter about the workshop when he returned, and that she did not have to ask his permission.
However, Peter was angry when he found out that Fran went to the workshop without his permission. He felt that his authority was being undermined by her actions, and that she had connived behind his back.
She sought help from Rob and he assured her he would settle the matter. Unfortunately, evidence in the case study showed that Rob did not keep his word. Later, the Chief Cost Accountant Vernon Moore asked her what the matter was, after seeing Fran looking miserable. Once he learned about the situation she was in, he took her to see Rob and explained the situation to him. Rob told Fran to write a report on what has happened since she joined the company, and that this would be brought up during the senior management meeting.
Peter however took up so much time presenting his plan for revising the ‘Big Brother’ during the meeting that Fran’s concerns were overlooked. Fran was very upset about her job and regretted that she ever made the decision to join this company. Her disappointing experience at work started affecting her personal life. After that she decided that she wanted to meet with Vernon and had two options of either transferring or resigning. Fran chose the alternative of applying to a position in cost accounting which would be vacant in three weeks’ time.
Fran went to the Chief Accountant Rob with the application and he said that she shouldn’t have done that before letting him try dealing with the situation. Peter confronted Fran after visiting Rob’s office and scolded her saying angrily that she was done with the company. In this case HR would be looking closely at Peter’s behaviour towards Fran. Fran is clearly dissatisfied with her job already, and any more pressure would really demoralize her. Facilitating effective communication between all the parties is necessary to avoid these kinds of issues.
If there had been good communication in the organization, this conflict wouldn’t have taken place. It should be the Human Resources Department’s focus to deal with these issues in a much more effective manner. Strength Weakness Opportunities Threats (SWOT) for Dairy Engineering StrengthsWeaknessesOpportunities Threats •International expansion •Progress in 5 years•No Mention of an HR Department •No proper hiring method•Many recent graduates in local job market •Can create a core workforce•Inter-departmental conflicts •Bad work environment •High Turnover
Issues and Symptoms To perform their job well an employee has to have accurate role perception. The recruitment process was chaotic, with Fran not even being expected upon her arrival at work, and even finding out that the job she thought she was being hired for didn’t even exist. Additionally, Fran was never given a formal job description when she arrived the first day. Furthermore, when we see Fran wondering whether or not MSI even requires four people, it is clear that she is uncertain as to what her role is in Dairy Engineering. (McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 1) “Peter… called Fran into his office where he proceeded to attack her verbally, saying that she had ‘connived’ behind his back” and “You had better know which side your bread is buttered on- that for better or worse you are in my section. No other section would want you. ” What is occurring here is a clear case of psychological harassment. With verbal harassment being defined as “unwanted conduct, verbal comments… that undermine an employee’s dignity… ” this kind of bullying behaviour is extremely detrimental to the work environment. McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 110) Some really bad team norms have developed in this company. Other members of the team like Rob and Mike, seem to expect and accept Peter’s abusive actions as the ‘norm’. When Mike comments on Peter’s actions saying, “He just uses other people’s brains”, it can be seen that while the employees are not happy with the way their manager is behaving, they have learned to accept that behaviour as a team norm. (McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 224) Another issue faced by Dairy Engineering is the lack of proper team development practices.
As noticed in this case when Fran Hayden was first employed into Dairy Engineering she didn’t have formal orientation and a formal introduction to her co-workers. She was given an informal tour and just trained by her co-worker. A team meeting could have been called initially and her exact role in the team could have been explained to her in that meeting. This would have helped other people in the department to learn more about Fran and become familiar with her strengths and weaknesses. (McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 192)
There are no properly defined rules of conduct within Dairy Engineering, and this has been leading to severe communication problems in the organization. The situation faced by Dairy Engineering can be attributed to a structural deficiency leading to conflict. In the situation Dairy Engineering should have a proper protocol in place for situations where messages are undeliverable to senior managers like Peter. There should have been a backup strategy in place for appointing a representative to replace Peter in such situations.
Peter was upset and reacted in a very unprofessional manner because of the poor flow of communication throughout the department. (McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 264) In this case study it is also observed that Fran was very dissatisfied with her job. Her job was boring, almost entirely clerical and did not require a degree. She felt that her duties were not fit for somebody with her qualifications and potential. She started regretting the decision of joining the company and was often stressed. Work-related stress also started affecting her personal life resulting in fights and disagreements with her boyfriend and flatmates. McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 91)
Problem Analysis and Implications Psychological Harassment (McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 110) Peter’s psychological harassment of those under his employ, particularly Fran, was a major problem for Dairy Engineering. In this particular case, the involved parties were Fran and Peter. However, the implications for the Dairy Engineering Company are immense. Presumably, if peter was treating Fran in this fashion, his abusive behaviour would extend to others as well. We can see evidence of this in Adrian’s statement, “He’s just letting off steam. I have seen this all before. Management behaviour like this can create an incredibly unhappy workforce, which will ultimately cause a drop in productivity as well as job burnout. These unhappy employees will provide lower levels of customer service, as well as reduced innovation for the company. Lastly, the company may find itself in violation of anti-harassment legislation should Fran or another employee lodge a complaint (Workplace Harassment, 2011). Psychological stress (McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 91) Stress takes its toll on the human body. It can result in tension headaches, muscle pain, and other related problems.
There has been research that stress contributes to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. Fran, her co-workers, and the organization as a whole were all involved in this problem. The stress that Fran was under during her tenure at Dairy Engineering was a result of her not being able to perform functions she was capable of. Her job was largely clerical and monotonous and did not utilize her education. Dairy Engineering could have given their employees access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which could offer them counselling, and teach them various techniques to deal with stress.
Stress can also result in lower job performance, poor decision making, and increased workplace accidents and aggressive behaviour. Some individuals also resort to absenteeism to avoid the stress. Work stress can even adversely affect an employee’s home life, “She (Fran) was also taking the stresses home, resulting in quarrels with her boyfriend and flatmates. ” Ramifications of psychological stress can lead to increased costs, reduced product quality, and reduced customer service for Dairy Engineering Ltd. Lack of proper team development (McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 92) The Management Information Systems (MIS) department at Dairy Engineering did not have a formal team building process in place. When Fran was assigned to MIS she was accompanied by her co-worker Mike who introduced her to Tom and Adrian. Peter explained to Fran about the monthly Management Report, also known as the ‘Big Brother’. Dairy Engineering could have involved the employees in the team development process. Teams should be formed after carefully assessing the personalities of the members and whether they would be a good fit to work together.
Failure to use proper team development techniques could lead to disagreements between members and result in loss of time. It could also lead to project shutdowns, which might result in huge financial losses for Dairy Engineering. What should be maintained? Dairy Engineering should maintain its practice of providing its staff with opportunities to attend workshops. Dairy Engineering has been expanding out of the domestic market into the export market for the past five years. Expansion of this sort is essential for any company’s viability.
In order to maintain this expansion, a well-trained and competent workforce is required. Providing the opportunity for further training also shows employees that the company cares about them, and values their improvement. This will increase employee satisfaction and retention (McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 10). Solutions and Recommendations Solutions for Psychological stress (McShane, Steen, 2012, pg. 111-114) There are many possible solutions for psychological stress. One can remove the stressor, withdraw from the stressor, change stress perceptions, control stress consequences, and receive social support.
In this instance, the removal of the stressor by assigning Fran to a job which matches her skills and preferences would be most applicable. However, as that may not be possible, social support would be the next best solution. With Fran’s manager Peter being a large contributor to her psychological stress, a member of the Human Resources Department should be made aware of her situation, and a meeting should be established so that she can voice her concerns. Assigning Fran to a new position will incur the rehiring costs for her current position, and as her new position will presumably be more skilled, an increase in Fran’s compensation.
In order to create an opening, additional costs may be incurred in order to create a position, or relocate another member of staff to yet another position. On the job social support will have to be handled by a Human Resources (HR) Professional. This would be accomplished with the costs of time and salary for the HR Professional. However, should a Human Resources Department not yet exist, there will be the start up costs for the department as well as the addition of salary for the newly hired individual, or team.
Solutions for Lack of proper team development (McShane, Steen, 2009, pg. 192) Dairy Engineering should have proper development practices in place to deal with this problem. Proper team development would help improve the communication within the organization. They should assign roles to each member of the team which is an integral part of the team development process. These roles are regarded as job responsibility for the individual that has been assigned to every member. Dairy Engineering should also be involved in facilitating team building.
Team building refers to formal activities intended to improve the development and functioning of a working team which includes improving relationships, building trust among each other. Wilderness team activities, paintball wars and obstacle courses are perfect examples of team building activities that increases trust among members. The team building activities can however be time consuming and may cost the company a lot of money to operate adequately. The benefits of proper team development practices outweigh the costs, and will help Dairy Engineering build a core and competent workforce.
Implementation Plan As there was no mention of a Human Resources intervention in the case study, therefore it has been assumed that the Human Resources Department for Dairy Engineering does not yet exist. It has been identified that this is the root cause of the issues being experienced within the company. To deal with the psychological stress that employees at Dairy Engineering are under, the company can hire an HR professional who can act as a counsellor for employees who are under stress and need help. Dairy Engineering should also put in place an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
They can promote this program to employees who might not feel comfortable talking about their problems with somebody who is a part of the company. An HR professional can also act as a mediator in case of any conflicts or disagreements between employees. Dairy Engineering will greatly benefit from a highly trained HR professional who would make sure that if there are any future conflicts in the organization, they will be dealt with in a professional manner, resulting in a higher chance of resolution. Dairy Engineering would be dealing with additional costs to create a new HR department.
There will be new policies in place for the HR department. This would also in turn increase their hiring budget. Additional resources and finances will be required for hiring and training these HR professionals. All these actions can be taken within the next 3 months. In the course of 3 months to 2 years the HR department should help the company establish proper team development norms. These team development norms can be used in the team forming stage. These norms will assign roles, set standards for performance and build trust among team members.
These activities will lead to increased team cohesion and improve their performance as a unit. As a long-term goal (after 2 years) the HR department at Dairy Engineering should aim at improving the hiring process of the company. An improved and well-defined hiring process would be beneficial for new applicants to the company. It would also help in improving the branding of the company, and will attract a higher quality of labour. A formal orientation would also help employees get assimilated into the organization, and help them feel more comfortable, unlike what occurred in this case study.
McShane, S. L., Steen, S. L., (2009). Canadian Organizational Behaviour, Seventh Edition. McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. Whitby, ON
McShane, S. L., Steen, S. L., (2012). Canadian Organizational Behaviour, Eighth Edition. McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. Whitby, ON
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