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Dick Spencer Case Analysis Essay

Dick Spencer
In this case Dick Spencer, a well-known employee of an aluminum producing company worked his way up the ranks from being a successful salesman to a plant manager. However through his transition of roles Dick experienced some pitfalls. In the following paragraphs I will discuss the main contributing factors to Dick’s success as a salesman and the issues he faced as a plant manager and provide informed alternative solutions. Dick knew the business well which played a vital role in his success as a salesman. Fresh out of college and with a Master’s degree in Business Administration attributed to his knowledge of the business world. According to Foster-Pedley (2013), individuals with a MBA apply their new expertise and fresh talents in their jobs and towards the advancement of the organization. “They use resources better, applying their imagination and creativity more effectively, and dare to transform and make progress” (Foster-Pedley, 2013, p. 13). Individuals who attained a MBA credit their promotion, field change or pay increase to the degree (Ainsworth, 1995). We’ve all heard the adage,” knowledge is power” and Dick certainly had the potential and prevailed as a salesman. Dick had the ability to sale and according to his coworkers he was personable which amplified his sales ability. Effectively communicating and connecting with customers is an important aspect of the buyer-seller relationship (Hung, Lin, 2013). Whether it’s on a personal level or professional level making that relation is the key.

Through his easy to talk to personality, Dick built relationships and gained trust. Research indicates “higher levels of trust are expected to result in more positive attitudes, higher levels of cooperation and other forms of workplace behavior, and superior levels of performance” (Dirks, Ferrin, 2001). Additionally in order to sale a product you have to know your product. Product knowledge directly correlates with how customers will respond to your product (Sangtani, Murshed, 2013). Once you’ve established a connection with the customer you want to listen and understand your customer’s needs. Having product knowledge is important so you can identify what your product(s) can do to serve your customer’s needs. According to Feiertag (2006), “It is just not enough to simply mention the feature; it needs to be presented as a value to the prospective buyer.” Successful individuals working in sales are enthusiastic and highly motived about selling their product (Stevenson, 2004). Dick was able to signed several large contracts by applying these fundamental sales skills. Dick was confident in his abilities to get the job done. Shortly after being employed Dick secured a single, large contract deal, placing him high on the sales leader board. Dick was confident in his abilities and took pride in getting the job done. It’s important to have confidence at work to professionally grow and advance your career. Dick’s confidence as a salesman later helped him get a management position. Dick enjoyed being a salesman and was pretty good at it.

The study performed by Gyllensten and Palmer (2014), found participates were happier on the job and outside of work when their confidence levels increased. They also reported improvements in employees completing their work duties and a willingness to make decisions (Gyllensten and Palmer, 2014). Again we can also give credit to Dick’s MBA degree as providing self-assurance in his job performance abilities (Simpson, 2005). Confidence gives you the courage to do things you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing. In sales there are plenty of circumstances where the ordinary sales pitch just won’t seal the deal. Dick was also very committed to the job which reflected in his sales volume. In a review of the research on organization commitment and job performance, researchers identified there is a direct correlation in commitment to the job and achieving favorable results (Myer, Paunonen, Gellatly, Goffin, Jackson, 1989). Consistent with this prospective, Shore and Martin (1989) found that “better performance was shown by employees with higher commitments.” Dick was so committed to the job that it cost him his first marriage. He was serious about reaching his sales goals and each of these factors previously described played a part in his success as a salesman.

However after a few years as a salesman, Dick wasn’t getting the satisfaction from the job as he had in the past. Therefore he requested a transfer out of the sales department and into a management role. Dick was named plant manager at Modrow. He came in at a hectic time when a lot of changes were being implemented. In his efforts to familiarize himself with the daily operations, Dick first struggle as a manager was micro-managing. He had his hand in everything possible which made his employees feel very un-easy. According to Dr. White, Dick possessed many symptoms of a Micromanager. For example, Dick interest in cutting costs required the expert knowledge of the accounting group. Knowing that accounting wasn’t his strongest subject he still spent numerous hours burying himself in details that he just could not understand. Micromanagers don’t allow any decisions be made with their approval (White, 2010).

Dick had also taken on too many tasks at once making it almost impossible for any of them to be implemented successfully. Being the micromanager that he was, Dick didn’t delegate tasks very well, another symptom of a micromanager (White, 2010). Another example of Dick’s micromanaging is when he insisted on changing the disposal process of scraps. When discussing this change with his foremen, Dick didn’t listen to the foreman’s thoughts as to why the change wouldn’t work. Micromanagers tend to have the mentality; it’s my way or the highway. Traditional micromanagers will completely disregard new concepts offered by their subordinates (Weyand, 1996).

Work-related stress affected Dick’s job performance. It also was creating issues with his family as they felt abandoned while he spent countless hours at the office. Through trying to prove himself to leadership and to his new employees, Dick lost focus on other important matters. His management position required him to take on more responsibilities which demanded more of his time. “In order for supervisors and managers to excel and be a dynamic force in organizational life, job stress must be harnessed” (Stanley, 2014).

As Dick noticed processes that needed to be changed he was unsuccessful in communicating those changes. As a manager being able to successfully communication is essential. Communication failure could potentially become a serious problem in an organization. Information is lost causing confusion reducing productivity and increases costs. In an article published by Jost (2006), he discusses several situations where failure to communicate resulted in some hefty financial costs to many companies. Dick was so focused on cutting costs that he forgot to look at the big picture. If he had effectively communicated his interest to cut costs with his supervisors and foreman, he could have potentially found a solution. Additionally, his relationships with his employees weren’t the best, which is another consequence of ineffective communication (Tunk, 2014). Now I’d like to focus on the following recommendations that could resolve Dick’s micro-managing style, work-related stress, and ineffective communication.

To address Dick’s micro-managing style, he needs to be flexible in how the job gets done. Dick can delegate tasks that can be handled without his supervision and give them ample time to complete each task. He can do this by building trust, empowering his employees to be a part of the decision making process (White, 2010). Making rounds within the plant had a negative impact on employees. They were worried about what he was up to and why he kept coming around. There was a lack of trust. His presence caused everyone to be less productive in their jobs.

The second recommendation is time management to address Dick’s work-related stress. It’s important for Dick to find a balance between work and family for the sake of his marriage and kids but also for his well-being. If Dick continues operating this way it could potentially lead to some serious health problems (Heikkia et al., 2013). To help him find this balance he needs to reevaluate what’s most important to him. Review his job duties that need to be completed and prioritize them. Identify the tasks that can be done by someone else and delegate those tasks (McDonald & Hucheson, 1998). Dick should also try to engage in outside activity that requires his complete attention. Research supports “that a psychological detachment from work effectively mitigates some of the negative effects of work-family conflict” (Moreno et al., 2009).

My last recommendation is improving his communication skills. Dick was not successful in trying to implement a change in the process to discard scrap siding. The keys to effective communication is listening and learning. Effective communication improves work performance and productivity within the business. It also builds trust and creates transparency which is something Dick is currently lacking within the Modrow plant. Communication promotes collaborative work where everyone has an opportunity to share information (Tunk, 2014). If Dick were to implement these few changes I believe he would start reaping the benefits of his management role and overall increase morale at the plant.


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