Internal Code: IAH269
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 realize 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.
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, first of all, modeling positive behaviours and attributes – those they expect their employees to emulate and embody in turn. 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).
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 and told you and 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, more nimble 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 act contrary to budget planning and cut costs or to increase pressure on others to offset poor performance in other areas. 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.
● Describe what you think is the best way to respond to the Store Manager’s behaviour. Describe how you would model positive leadership behaviour.
● Describe the principles of emotional intelligence that the Store Manager did not demonstrate.
● Describe how the Store Manager should have acted and communicated.
● Describe the connection between the Store Manager’s behaviour and store morale. Describe what effect the Store Manager’s behaviour could have on store performance.
An employee has come to you with an issue involving a co-worker. In general, the sales team is a pretty cohesive team, but now a relatively new member of the team is rubbing people the wrong way. She never participates in drinks or other social occasions outside of work. She never involves herself in normal, day-to-day conversations about family, popular movies or culture. The team is beginning to form the opinion that she is too aloof and doesn’t like the other team members and is quite upset about it. On the sales team, it’s really important to be able to feel a connection with other team members. When you feel this connection, you know you’re able to rely on them – to relieve you
when you need some personal time, feed you information as you need it and help you serve customers. You happen to know that the sales staff member in question is a valuable staff member with good customer skills and product knowledge; however, as a foreign- born, 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, alcohol or confusing cultural references. She is in a bind because she would like to be accepted as a member of the team, but when all avenues to team-bonding are closed off, she feels stigmatized and perceived by others as an unfriendly person.
● Provide at least two examples of possible misinterpretations of expressions or behaviour that may arise in the context of a diverse workforce.
● Describe how you would explain to the employee who came to you with the issue how cultural expressions may be misinterpreted – and have been in this case.
● Discuss how the team can raise their awareness of cultural expression and promote effective communication to avoid misunderstandings in order to resolve the differences.
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 team-building sessions that you have initiated and that has 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.
● 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.
● 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.
● 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:
○ your needs (emotional needs, need for team cohesiveness, need to meet performance standards)
○ employee’s needs (emotional needs, need to develop and perform within a team environment).
Refer to relevant principles of emotional intelligence where applicable.
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