This case was interesting because it provided a few examples of the conflicts that are stated in organization behavior theories and models. The main issues that we see in this particular case are those dealing with perception, personality, and motivation. There seem to be both internal and external factors that are causing the issues. In specific, the internal issues derive from the personality of select individuals, which influence their behavior; but there are external factors that derive from the management and organization itself that are attributing to the individual’s negative behavior. In the following paragraphs, we will explore these issues further by identifying specific incidents that affected Lisa Benton’s performance.
In evaluating the job choices that Lisa Benton, one can assume that she was a “Type A” achiever. We can see this because of the particular strengths and weaknesses that she evaluated per company to make her final job selection. Using McClelland’s theory, we can label Lisa Benton as having a Type A personality because the position she was seeking would require her to have personal responsibility, feedback, and moderate risks. Both job opportunities offered personal responsibly and feedback, however, the position at Right-Away was too visible, therefore, the risks of failing would have been more noticeable to the company’s upper management because it was a smaller organization.
Thus, the risks were more than moderate and at that time Lisa Benton did not have sufficient self-efficacy to think she could qualify for the Right Away management position. Furthermore, we can have an idea about what motivates Lisa Benton and in examining the case, Lisa finds the intrinsic rewards more important than the extrinsic rewards. For example, the case states that even though the position at Right Away offered a better salary and upper management position, the learning and training opportunities, the recognition, and career development at Houseworld were more valuable.
Linton makes it clear that she does not like or is impressed with Harvard MBAs, therefore, she is explicitly stating her personal bias against individuals with Lisa’s particular educational/ professional background. The specific perceptual process bias is the “stereotyping/ implicit personality theories and contrast error. Linton only familiarizes herself with Linton by reviewing her resume, but immediately generalizes Lisa with other MBA graduates that may have exhibited certain personality traits that Linton did not find favorable.
Consequently, Linton is stereotyping Lisa before she has an opportunity to show her skill sets, to see that Lisa has a very approachable personality, and does whatever tasks are needed regardless of her role. Linton does not have an MBA and the case states that she was in Lisa’s previous position, so Linton’s approach to career development may be different from Lisa. This contrast error also contributes to their poor working relationship because Linton considers Lisa different from her, so perhaps an individual that she could identify with would have made her feel more comfortable. This may be the reason that Linton and Scoville, who both have similar backgrounds, work together effectively and share the same bias towards Lisa Benton.
In respect to Scoville, he is also a personality Type A, however, unlike Lisa Benton his Type A behavior is more extreme. He displays a higher level of competiveness, time urgency, and anger. Interestingly, Lisa Benton and Scoville are both Type A personalities, however, Lisa Benton possess a higher sense of self-monitoring. Scoville also has high self-efficacy, but on the extreme side of the spectrum because his self-efficacy over rides his ability to work effectively in a team and does not seem to care on how he impacts the morale of his peers, in which ultimately impact their performance and perception on the organization.
Lisa Benton has a Type A personality, but has an external locus of control. She feels that her performance and the drawbacks she is experiencing are solely caused by this particular management team. She is not considering that her direct lack of action (internal locus of control) is also contributing to the negative behavior from her management team. This can be seen in Scoville as well, when at the end of the case he expresses to Lisa how his behavior is due to his frustration with the organization and the lack of promotion opportunities; however, Scoville is failing to realize that perhaps his inability to self-monitor his negative behavior and inability to effectively interact with others are the reasons that the organization does not consider him for a promotion.
One particular effect that we see happening in the case is the way that Scoville influences Lisa Benton’s performance. His constant reminder that she is on a “learning curve” and her performance is expected to stay at a minimal level, including her participation in projects, until she eventually receives sufficient training to perform at a higher level. This Pygmalion Effect that takes place does indeed impact Lisa’s performance as she hesitates to take initiatives on certain project tasks or provide more opinions and feedback during presentations. Scoville’s expectations of her limited performance, despite that she did have the ability to be a high performer, were believed and accepted by Lisa Benton.
Additionally, another theory that we can see in this case is Kelly’s theory of casual attribution. Lisa Benton complains to other peers about her working relationship with Scoville and eventually her boss’s lack of managerial skills. This theory is relevant because it shows that Lisa’s statements about her current management team and their negative behavior is shared by other employees (consensus), her management team often exhibits negative behavior (consistency), and even in informal settings such as the lunch meetings she’s had with Scoville and Linton (distinctiveness).
The negative performance review was also an issue with this case. The specific issues with the negative performance review can be seen in how it lacked the proper performance review cycle. During the beginning of the case, Lisa Benton’s boss failed to provide her with specific tasks, goals, and did not establish standards. Therefore, when Lisa requested her 3 month evaluation, Linton was not able to properly review her performance record. As a matter of fact, she was so focused on the negative aspects of what she perceived as being Lisa’s weaknesses, that she did not mention any of the strengths that contributed to the team’s performance. One of the few things that Lisa should have considered after the negative performance review is to schedule a follow up review immediately in a formal setting in order to properly document her strengths, weaknesses, and goals.
The performance review would have also allowed Lisa to document the external factors that were contributing to her mediocre performance and force Linton to properly address them. If Linton would have refused to provide her with a formal performance review, then she should have approached the group product manager and address this issue with him. The negative aspect of this action is that it may have further alienated her from the current management team, since Linton may have felt that Lisa disregarded the chain of command by expressing her concerns with upper management versus addressing it directly with her. The pros of this approach may have been that the negative behavior of her current management team would have been brought to the attention of upper management or human resources and finally addressed to avoid future incidents.
My recommendations for alternative solutions to the problems identified may have been to continue pursuing a formal performance review, and establish reoccurring one on one meeting with her boss in order to improve their working relationship. Perhaps by interacting with her boss more often (even if forced), her boss may have overcome her bias of Lisa due to her educational background. The weakness in this recommendation may be that it can alienate Scoville and contribute to his negative behavior. He may feel that Lisa is attempting to overshadow his role in the team. Further, I would have expressed my concerns about the negative behavior and its impact on my performance to the group product manager, so he would be aware of these issues. It is important that upper management is informed of this kind of behavior in order to quickly address them before valuable employees leave the company.