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Rob Parsons: A Morgan Stanley Case Analysis Essay

I. Parsons’ Performance Assessment

Overall, Rob Parson’s performance at Morgan Stanley has been very strong when numbers are taken into consideration. In his time at MS, he has brought on new clients and expanded his division’s market share dramatically, increasing it over 10 percent. He has excellent repute with the clients and consistently creates new relationships with clients while also generating new opportunities for the firm. When it comes to sales, he creates a need for MS services even if there are none. Parson has fueled the increased performance of the Capital Markets Services division which has led to the division being ranked third in the market.

Parson appears to possess the trait of extroversion, which adds to his success as a leader but it also hinders his performance in the workplace. In terms of internal interaction with subordinates and others, his performance has been less than ideal. The culture at MS encourages teamwork, interaction, group oriented decision making, and respect toward others. Parson regularly acts without consensus on decisions in order to land new clients or deals. This can be attributed to his personality, since people high on the extroversion trait tend to be impulsive. He also shows a lack of respect toward secretaries and other members of the organization via emotional outbursts. Parson regularly goes to his superior, Nasr, when situations arise. He is open to criticism and makes earnest attempts at understanding why his behavior was inappropriate.

Parson also takes a very energetic approach to his job. He shows enthusiasm with co-workers and increases employee motivation to secure new business and to perform. Furthermore, he is extremely committed to his work, which again demonstrates to subordinates that he is emotionally connected to his work which can act as a motivator. Parson also supports employees and assists to inform their decisions and manage their clients. These traits are important as a manager. It is important to note that the senior management realizes the difficulty and complexity of his job position. The management “recognizes that in order to service this client base effectively, it is not ‘business as usual’”. The client moved at a faster pace, sometimes requiring decisions and answers in minutes rather than in hours.

As a result , Rob sometimes had to make decisions without bringing everyone on board, which goes against the Morgan Stanley culture of building consensus. With so much pressure of a result orientated environment and the amount of interaction at different levels, it is bound to have an emotional impact on the employee. So, sometimes his impatient, abrasive and volatile behavior can be attributed to his emotions/moods, work pressure, difficult clients or something similar. His colleagues/subordinates have also seen improvement in Parsons’ attitude throughout the year in terms of willingness to engage his team with clients. As a manager and colleagues/peers, these factors should be considered when evaluating someone for their behaviors and workplace attitudes.

I a. Promotion of Parsons

Based on the performance assessment, Rob Parson should be put up for promotion to managing director. Parson’s annual review and development summary, when presented to senior managing directors and the promotional committee, will adequately show that Parson is a top performer who can further improve the company’s performance. The benefits of promoting Parson outweigh some of the negative feedback stated in his performance review. The decision also considers if Parson is valuable enough to warrant the investment of ensuring a successful promotion. During his time with the firm, Parson significantly raised Morgan Stanley’s revenue and reputation. He was able to successfully deal business with a handful of new clients and finalize deals which drastically increased revenue. His selling skills are also top notch. Parson has worked with clients and developed a product for them even if they initially didn’t think there is business to be had.

His approachable attitude and eagerness to make client introductions offers a lot for Morgan Stanley. Customer relationships are everything in the banking industry in order to improve company performance and keep business sustainable. It is also important to note that Parson accepted this job knowing full well what it would entail. He was aware that Morgan Stanley’s Investment Banking and Capital Markets divisions were hardly recognized by competitors. The division’s poor performance in the past also resulted in a high turnover rate for the position. In order to turn the figures around Parson knew what had to be done and he was very hard working and committed to putting Morgan Stanley back on the map, even if this meant sacrificing relationships with his co-workers. While this clashed with the firm’s team oriented structure, senior managers also recognized what needed to be done and some understood that business could not be run as usual if the firm wanted to see change. One other condition that was acknowledged when Parson accepted the principal role was that if he performed well he would be accelerated towards a managing director promotion.

This promise was assured by Paul Nasr, a long time colleague. Both Nasr and Parson had previously worked together at a different firm. Nasr decided to recruit Parson due to his successful performance in financial services and his strong entrepreneurial behavior. At Morgan Stanley there is a steep promotional hierarchy where employees either move up the ladder or often leave the firm. This promotion not only guarantees that Parson remains with the company and will continue to increase the firm’s performance, but it would also positively affect Nasr’s reputation, who was relatively new to Morgan Stanley as well. There are also a few criticisms which Parson needs to improve upon in order to succeed as a managing director while retaining the core vision of Morgan Stanley. Work attitude and behavior must be further improved. Impatience, cockiness and an overbearing attitude create a difficult work environment for all parties involved. It is also crucial that Parson develop better management and critical analysis skills since a narrow strategic vision will not help the firm in the long run.

This also includes allowing different company divisions to perform on their own instead of questioning their decisions. As noted in the performance evaluations, and even in Parson’s own self-evaluation, over the last year Parson has made improvements in these categories. The willingness to change and improve goes a long way too. Some co-workers even suggest that he has what it takes to fulfill a leadership position. Parson is a valuable asset to Morgan Stanley and should be put up for promotion. However, further adjustments need to be made before he can become a well respected manager. The goal should be to enhance the effectiveness of Parson as well as help him to hone his interpersonal skills without hampering his current performance. This requires efforts on behalf of the organization, from senior management, as well as from Parson. He will have to realize the importance of Morgan Stanley’s culture and make a serious effort to adopt a working style that conforms closely to the organization’s goals and objectives.

II. Goals of Paul Nasr

As a manager, maintaining his department’s financial performance is one of the most important goals. Expectation standard of Shareholders and clients about this firm is very high and to meet those expectations each department should show impressive work results. As a result, no matter what happens, maintaining or increasing market share, revenue, and profit should be his top priority.

In addition to financial performance, sharing and implementing company’s mission statement within his department is also important goal for him. By doing so, employees feel sense of belonging and maintain their integrity. Furthermore, a part of each employees evaluations should be attributed to their adherence to the mission statement in quantitative means rather than subjective qualitative reviews.

For a manager, it is very important to carry out impartial and objective treatment to every employee. If he continues to treat Rob in a different way than others, they would question is objectivity and leadership skills. This would generate animosity and negative emotions towards Rob, making it more difficult for Rob to improve his interpersonal skills and other bad habits.

II a. What issues would you raise?

To achieve his first goal, Paul definitely needs Rob to be promoted and to perform well. To do so, he may raise issue about evaluation. The current evaluation is heavily focused on the qualitative aspects. As a result, Rob’s qualitative evaluation obscured his quantitative performance. By balancing the two criterion of evaluation, Rob may have more positive total evaluation. It may help Rob pass through promotion process with other senior managers.

Paul also needs to raise issue directly to Rob. He should warn Rob that low grade evaluations from coworkers may hinder their efforts to achieve their goals. A good reference is important not only for an internal promotion, but also for a position elsewhere incase Rob resigns at any future stage. With his current reputation, he is most likely to get negative references which harm his chances of employment with good companies. Rob should realize the severity of this issue and Paul should constantly monitor the process of his improvement till a positive change is seen.

Paul should assess Rob’s work environment because there could be other reasons that make Rob’s evaluation bad. His relationship with clients is so good that even clients want him to dine together. It is hard to imagine someone, who has excellent has very good relations and interpersonal skill when it comes to clients, is evaluated completely the opposite when it comes to inter-personal relations with coworkers. Inefficient business processes in the department, conflict-interest between coworkers, jealousy for his high performance from colleagues, discrimination about his educational background, and competition for promotion could be alternative explanation for this situation. So, Paul should raise issue himself about work environment of Rob.

II b.What issues would you raise and why, and how would you raise them? First of all, Nasr needs to realize that he should not link his decision to promote Rob to the fact that he initially hired him at Morgan Stanley. This can work both ways; he might undermine the objectivity of his decision maintaining a soft heart for him since he had a previous work relation, or, he can be over-objective, owing to his failure of Rob’s initial judgment to adapt to the new culture and trying to make amends. For Paul, as a senior manager, Rob would fit into the category of a ‘hero’ with a few characteristics of a ‘bulldozer’ and a ‘rebel’.

There is no doubt that he is an outstanding performer and produces results, but his ‘style’ of work that has made him such a good individual performer conflicts with the long term work culture at MS; his short term achievements obscure the loss that he can attribute to the firm in the long run such as low self-esteem of his coworkers if their work is constantly undermined, loss of the concept of effective teamwork in his team etc. As Nasr summarized ‘He always thinks he has the right answer, and majority of the time he has, but every time he comes up with the right answer on his own, a lot of people feel undermined”. He questions his colleague’s knowledge of markets and their evaluation of prices and is ‘impatient’ and ‘sharp-tonged’; a few habits that link him to the ‘bulldozer’ and a ‘rebel’ category.

From Nasr perspective, it is extremely important how he handles the situation. Rob’s academic and career paths have been very ‘erratic’ to say the least. He has not attended some of the best schools unlike most of his colleagues at MS. Therefore, he attributes his success purely to his ‘style’ of work and his experience. This is where he draws his confidence from and no doubt, he has been very successful.

So in order for Nasr to out rightly question that, is not the best way to go about it. If he goes in too hard, and reprimands him for the negative feedback and his lack of conformance to the organization’s culture, there is a possibility it might affect Rob’s future performance (which might eventually prompt Rob to quit the job). On the other hand, if he is not firm in his stance (like he was initially) and does not convey the importance of the firm’s commitment to its mission, Rob might continue to undermine it and is bound to break more ‘internal eggs’, which definitely won’t be acceptable. Therefore, for Nasr to be effective he has to find the right balance.

One way Nasr can go about it is to start with the appreciation of his excellent performance and signify his value to the firm and its high expectations from him. Once Rob has made a positive mind shift (his positive emotions working in Nasr’s favor) he will be more open and more receptive to the negative feedback. His short-comings can be put forth in a way which allows Rob to see the big picture; that is, if he makes a dedicated effort to work on his bad habits, he and his team can be even more effective, producing even better results. Nasr would need to clearly ‘describe’ the importance of MS organizational culture and how dedicated MS is as an organization to follow it. There should be no misconception in Rob’s mind that MS would take any and every step to ensure it is followed. This is important because of two reasons:

Nasr failed to clearly and distinctly communicate the goals of Morgan Stanley as an organization when he initially hired Rob. (Importance of ‘communication’ from top to bottom in an organization). Later on, as Nasr admits himself in the case, he failed to take ‘firm’ action whenever Rob digressed from the goals and objectives and allowed him to break more internal eggs than he should have.

It was partly because Nasr himself initially failed to understand the commitment of the organization to the ‘One Firm Firm’ mission and therefore failed to pass it on to Rob as effectively as he should have. He also underestimated Rob’s ability to adapt and conform to the new culture which shows his failure of judgment as a manager. There is a possibility, that once promoted, Rob takes the objectives of Morgan Stanley for granted. He will have more power and his work would require him to interact and deal with a lot more colleagues/subordinates/divisions than his current position demands.

After getting a firm commitment from Rob, Nasr needs to set up tangible goals and objectives for him and a process to evaluate and monitor his progress from time to time. This can include getting feedback from his colleagues regularly, measure collective teamwork in this team and anything that provides him a feedback on his negative habits.

III. Goals of Rob Parson

The fate of Rob Parson is, in fact, in his own hands for the most part. The reality is that Parson has the ability to influence the decision of whether he is promoted or not, based on his actions. If Parson decides to continue behaving in a similar fashion to the way he has acted in the past, he may continue to ruffle the feathers of those around him. Although he has proven to be a great asset to the company, Parson knows that he needs to change his attitude and certain behaviors.

Team Management Skills. One of Parson’s major goals should be to focus on himself and alter how he deals with coworkers. He needs to figure out how he can be as efficient as he has been in the past, while working better with others. The culture of Morgan Stanley is extremely important to those who are part of the company. Therefore, Parson needs to figure out a way in which to balance that culture with the way he is used to carrying out business.

Outstanding Job Performance. This leads to another goal of making sure he is performing as best he can. Although Parson had proved he could do the job, there were some people who were critical of him and hesitant of his work. Promotion. The ultimate goal of Parson is to make sure he achieves the job promotion he anticipated when he was initially hired at Morgan Stanley. In order to get into this desired position, however, Parson must evaluate himself from his own perspective, as well as through the lens of those in the company.

III a. How to Influence those Processes

Full Comprehension of Evaluations: Parson must work with upper management to find out how he needs to alter his behavior in order to fit better into the environment. He should listen to the critiques other people have stated and understand the full meaning of them. Parson must accept the criticisms in their entirety and figure out how he can better himself through the assessment.

Meetings and Communication: In order to gain the backing and confidence of the other workers there, Parson should openly admit his faults and acknowledge that he is willing to work on himself. He should furthermore be better at communicating with his peers about what he has accomplished with clients, how he has done that, and what he plans to do in the future. This way, more people within the company will be better informed and more involved with what Parson does.

Work on Downfalls. Parson gives off the impression that he would score high on the personality trait of openness to experience, since it had been stated that he was creative in the ways in which he interacted with clients in order to make a sale. With this in mind, he could use his openness to his advantage. He is apt to be able to modify his behaviors in order to adapt to the changes looked at through the evaluations.

Promotion Recommendations: The modifications based on those critiques will bring Parson closer to the promotion. Parson should recommend that promotions within the company (not just his own) should be based on a combination of their new evaluation system, how satisfied clients were with their service, and overall contributions to the company. That way, a person’s promotion is not exclusively based on how others perceive him or her, but instead on their overall performance.


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