Appendix 1: Case study – Australian Hardware Australian Hardware (a simulated business) is a large and expanding hardware and homewares retailer with approximately 140 stores located across Australia. In its vision statement, Australian Hardware states that it intends to ‘lead the hardware and home-improvement market in Australia within five years’. In order to realise this vision, the organisation intends to:
● build market share by focusing on the customer experience ● control direct and indirect costs through efficient internal processes ● establish the reputation of Australian Hardware as a socially and environmentally responsible company ● lead by example in embracing cultural diversity in the workforce.
These strategic organisation-wide directions are implemented from senior management down, in the form of performance expectations for managers and employees at every level of the organisation. Australian Hardware realises that the success of the business rests on its people. For this reason, the organisation insists that managers build effective teams by responding to the needs of employees. Such needs include safety and security, fairness, flexibility, skills development and self-actualisation. Satisfying such needs will allow employees to focus more effectively on work tasks and customer needs. In addition, Australian Hardware encourages managers to take a flexible approach to meeting performance targets and to set goals in close collaboration with employees. To implement strategic directions and advance Australian Hardware’s values, managers are expected to lead employees by modeling positive behaviours and attributes. This mindful approach to leadership and management is intended to encourage employees to follow the example in their interactions with colleagues and customers. To lead and inspire people, managers must demonstrate keen emotional awareness and promote positive team- building behaviours in others. You are the new General Operations Manager of the Wollongong, NSW store and you are ready for a challenge. You are directly responsible for managing general sales and checkout staff, administration staff and a human resources officer. You report to the Store Manager, who is responsible for all areas of store responsibility (Timber, Plumbing & Electrical, Gardens and Homewares departments and general operations). For more background to this assessment task, Australian Hardware simulated business information, including business and operational plans, financial information, and policies and procedures, can be located online at: <http://simulations.ibsa.org.au>.a
Appendix 2: Case study scenario questions For the following case-study scenario questions, put yourself in the position of the new general operations manager and answer the questions accordingly. Scenario A Your Store Manager has had a stressful month. It is the end of the financial year and sales revenue in the Timber and Plumbing & Electrical departments is down on targets, almost certainly due to increased competition from smaller competitors for trade contractors’ business. Just this week, the Store Manager held a meeting in which she yelled at all the department managers (including you) and instructed them to work out a way to improve revenue. Obviously, the outburst did not make much sense as the department managers, in such a large business, do not have the capability to raise much revenue directly. Marketing and distribution innovations that could have an effect are mainly a head office responsibility. The Wollongong store’s inability to counter the threat from smaller, nimbler trade suppliers has been the main reason for the revenue deficit. Naturally, the atmosphere around the store and in the management team is subdued and a few managers have discussed leaving the organisation; other managers have responded by pushing unreasonable sales demands onto their sales staff. You are now feeling pressure to do something to address the concerns expressed by the Store Manager. You don’t wish to act contrary to budget planning nor increase pressure on the team to offset poor performance in areas beyond their control. In your opinion, this leadership behaviour was disrespectful to all the managers, created unnecessary concern about job security and undermined trust. There has been a clearly negative flow-on effect down through the store, which is now affecting people at a lower level. You are justifiably angry at the manager’s behaviour and blame her for making a bad situation worse with poor leadership and poor emotional awareness. In your consideration of this scenario, provide a written response to the following: 1. In approximately 80 words, outline what may have occurred in the Store Manager’s emotional journey and her subsequent response in the meeting. 2. Describe at least two of the principles of strong emotional intelligence that the Store Manager did not demonstrate in this scenario. 3. Provide at least two strategies that she could have considered while planning the meeting and link these to probable productive results for the business. 4. Managers in your direct reporting line have asked you to share their anxieties following the meeting with the Store Manager. List 6–10 sequential bullet points that would provide a well-planned approach to guide this conversation with the Store Manager.
5. Outline at least three potential benefits for store performance if morale could be lifted across the team. 6. Review the final paragraph of the case study and describe in approximately 75 words how you would model positive leadership behaviour based on emotional intelligence theory. You may include bullet points in formatting your answer. Scenario B An employee has come to you expressing concern about an issue involving a co-worker. In general, the sales force is a fairly cohesive team, but now a relatively new member of the team is rubbing people the wrong way. The newer team member never participates in drinks or other social occasions outside work. She never involves herself in the common, day-to-day conversations about family, popular movies or culture. The team is beginning to form the opinion that she is too aloof, doesn’t like the other team members and they are expressing discontent about her place in the team. The sales team believe it is really important to be able to feel a connection with other team members. This connection provides a sense that they can rely on each other. It facilitates mutual support such as relieving another team member who needs some personal time, sharing information as required and helping to serve customers in a collaborative manner. You happen to know that the sales staff member in question is a valuable staff member with good customer skills and product knowledge. You understand, however, that as a foreignborn, conservative, religious woman, she is having trouble relating to the other team members. Many team-bonding opportunities involve activities that she cannot participate in, such as out-of-hours parties, drinking alcohol or using confusing cultural references. The newer team member believes she is in a bind because she would like to be accepted by her colleagues on her professional merits. It seems that all avenues to team-bonding are closed off and she therefore feels stigmatised and senses that others see her as an unfriendly person. In your written response to the above scenario: 1. What emotional cues would you look for in the initial conversation with the employee expressing concern? Explain how these cues would guide your response. 2. Identify at least three key points that you would discuss with the employee raising this issue, ensuring that cultural misunderstanding is addressed in the meeting. 3. Discuss in approximately 75 words how the team in this scenario can raise their awareness of cultural expression and promote effective communication to avoid further misunderstandings. 4. Drawing on your knowledge of emotional intelligence theory, suggest two strategies that you might consider using with the newer team member to help alleviate her feeling of isolation.
5. Prepare a list of at least three benefits that could be realised by the sales team and the business as a whole, if this challenge can be satisfactorily addressed. 6. From your personal experience in the workplace, provide at least two examples where misinterpretations of expressions or behaviour occurred due to a culturally diverse workforce. What were the consequences of these misunderstandings in that workplace? Scenario C An employee that you manage really gets on your nerves. It’s not that their performance is all that bad. For example, the employee always does what is required of them in terms of professionalism, administration tasks and dressing appropriately. They meet sales targets and their customer service ratings on their performance scorecards are good. On the other hand, the employee does not really respond to the team training and teambuilding sessions that you have initiated and that have proven so effective in sustaining team morale and driving others to success. Other team members seem to thrive on, and draw energy from, these team sessions, while this employee, if anything, appears emotionally drained from interacting with their peers. They say that they would rather work individually and that all the team stuff is suffocating. You’ve really tried hard to build a culture of teamwork and this feels like a slap in the face. In your written response to the above scenario: 1. Describe how you would set aside your own emotions to focus on and identify how the employee (probably) feels. Refer to relevant principles of emotional intelligence. 2. Describe how knowledge of, for example, learning styles, personality types or communication styles might be able to help you relate to and understand the employee better and adapt your response. 3. Describe how you could use your awareness of your own feelings and those of the employee to adapt your response so that the following needs are satisfied:
a. your needs (emotional needs, need for team cohesiveness, need to meet performance standards) b. employee’s needs (emotional needs, need to develop and perform within a team environment).
Refer to relevant principles of emotional intelligence where applicable.
Scenario D It is the end of the financial year and sales revenue at the Wollongong store in the Timber and Plumbing & Electrical departments is down on targets. This issue is almost certainly due to increased competition from smaller competitors for trade contractors’ business; nevertheless, some action should be taken by management to mitigate the effect of this issue on the store overall. As a result of managerial discussions, it has been decided that some employee performance targets will be increased where capacity exists and some programs, such as training, will be delayed. These measures will have the effect of potentially increasing revenue and reducing costs to compensate for overall poorer-than-expected performance in the Wollongong store. Each manager will have responsibility for implementing this group decision in his or her particular area of responsibility. It will be important to consider the emotional impact on staff and any consequential impact on health, safety and wellbeing as well as the impact on performance and the achievement of organisational goals. In your written response to the above scenario: 1. Describe the relationship between emotionally effective people and the attainment of business objectives. 2. Describe how considering the emotional impact of decision-making could lead to better decision-making (with respect to business objectives). 3. Describe what a possible process of decision-making that takes emotional impact into account could look like. Decisions in this case include, for example, setting particular performance targets, or selecting what programs can be delayed. 4. Identify policies, procedures or legislation that will need to be adhered to in order to satisfy internal and external requirements related to managing emotions in the workplace. 5. Describe how health and safety legislation is relevant to managers’ implementation of business decisions.