Synopsis of the Situation
Arctic Mining Consultants is a mining consulting company that does mining exploration. This particular case looks into how Arctic Mining Consultants’ crew did not effectively do their job in Eagle Lake, Alaska. Tom Parker is a geological field technician and field coordinator for the company. He acted as the project manager on the job near Eagle Lake, Alaska. His crew of field assistants consisted of John Talbot, Greg Boyce, and Brian Millar. Tom had worked with all three field assistants before. Tom has specialized skills in claim staking, line cutting and grid installation, soil sampling, prospecting, and trenching. This particular job involved skating 15 claims, which consist of marking a line with flagging tape and blazes along the perimeter of the claim. A claim post is cut every 500 yards, meaning 60 miles in line total. Tom hoped to complete the job in a week, and offered the field assistants each a $300 bonus if it was completed in time. This would be added to their fairly low daily wages. As the job progressed, tension was thick because the deadline was approaching. The field assistants were working long days, and two of them were continually not meeting Tom’s expectations. Tom particularly took his frustrations out on Millar.
The field assistants are given little motivation to work hard. They are paid fairly low daily wages and are putting in long days. Tom Parker does not offer positive encouragement either, yelling and making the field assistants feel bad could make them care less about the job. The field assistants are provided meals and accommodations, but even Tom admitted that a lot was expected of them in a short amount of time.
Tom Parker is not a good leader. He is the one who does the hiring, training and supervising for all of Arctic Mining Consultants programs. It could be possible he is not properly training field assistants to thoroughly meet his expectations. Tom Parker, on more then one occasion, exploded with anger. He did not coach his team, he just yelled at them. If he was supervising there work on Day 3, he should have communicated with the field assistants and told them how to improve their work then. On Day 6, when the field assistants did show improvement, Parker did not give them any positive reinforcements. Also, even after Paker picked on only Millar for bad performance, he asked him to work for him again.
The field assistants seem to have very different capabilities and attitudes. Boyce did not get picked on by Parker, but admitted to Millar that he only worked as hard as he had to. Boyce had the worst results of everyone. Talbot met his quota and stayed to help Boyce meet his. He was a team player. Millar put in more time and effort, by being the first one dropped off Day 6 and 7, last one picked up Day 6 and 7, and not taking lunch Day 5. He worked himself so hard, that he collapsed at dinner, to tired to eat.
Define the Problem
The key problem in this case is that Tom Parker is not a good leader. He is in charge of hiring, training, and supervising field assistants. Couldn’t the field assistants’ work be reflected on Tom because he did not properly train them? Also, Tom selected the field assistants for this job. He should have known what they were capable of before selecting them. He had worked with al of them before, so he should have had reasonable expectations for each of them. Tom also made a hostile working environment with much stress and little positivity.
Solution 1: Tom needs to be retained as a project manager. Being a project manager means being a leader. Tom is not a good leader. An effective leader is one who leads by encouraging the employees and making them want to succeed, thereby making the organization meet and exceed its goals over time. (Thakur, 2005). Tom did not handle conflict well; he took his frustrations out on one particular field assistant. Relational leadership is one form of effective leadership. Relational leadership centers around person-to-person relationships. One of the significant components of all relationships is how conflict is handled. (Ferch & Mitchell, 2011). The advantage of retaining Tom to gain leadership skills would be that Tom potentially could more effectively train field assistants and make a better team dynamic. The disadvantage is that Arctic Mining Consultants would have to spend time and money to re train the trainer, Tom. It would be beneficial for him to develop new leadership skills, but it might be difficult not having a project manager.
Solution 2: Tom and Arctic Mining Consultants should offer more incentives to his field assistants. It doesn’t even have to be monetary. Offering positive reinforcement for work well done would be beneficial to Tom and his team. “While money is important to employees, what tends to motivate them to perform – and to perform at higher levels – is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job well done. (Eastern, 2012). The advantage of this solution would be that employees would feel better about the work they are doing, and feel good hen they excel. Field assistants would be working in a positive environment. The disadvantage would be employees would start to expect positive reinforcements and bonuses, feeling they are entitled to it.
Solution 2: Hire new field assistants. Tom could more carefully select his field assistants for a job. He should do more research on candidates’ capabilities and experience if he has high expectations. The advantage of having a different team of field assistants would be that he could filter out those who do not meet expectations before hand. The negative side of hiring new field assistants is the time it would take to evaluate new candidates as field assistants.
I believe the first solution would bee best to solve this case. Tom needs to reevaluate his leadership tactics. He does not communicate effectively with his crew. He needs to think of the crew working together like a team, and he is coach. Tom is not being effective by focusing on the negatives; he needs to analyze what is being done wrong, and coach field assistants to correct their problem.
First, Arctic Mining Consultant should have Tom trains another potential project manager that already works for the company. The candidate should undergo some type of leadership training. Then Tom will engage in a leadership-training program. The candidate will be the project manager while Tom is absent. Then, the two project managers, Tom and candidate, will work as a team to direct field assistants. Tom needs a new outlook on his management style. Implementing this plan will help achieve that. This will also help make more effective work teams.
Thakur, D. (2005, January). Short-term leaders. Quality, 44(1), 24. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.davenport.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA127543673&v=2.1&u=lom_davenportc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
Ferch, S. R., & Mitchell, M. M. (2001). Intentional Forgiveness in Relational Leadership: A Technique for Enhancing Effective Leadership. Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(4), 70. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.davenport.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA76626374&v=2.1&u=lom_davenportc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
Eastern, J. S. (2012, January 1). Employee rewards. Internal Medicine News, 45(1), 78. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.davenport.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA280102141&v=2.1&u=lom_davenportc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w