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Lisa Benton

Lisa Benton

Executive Summary

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Lisa Benton had been working in the Houseworld Company for four months. Her boss Deborah and team member Ron had quite negative opinion about her skills, so they did not give her difficult tasks. The lacks of responsibilities as well as bad relationships with team members reduced Lisas motivation to work. Therefore, she was even thinking about leaving the company. Lisa Benton did not want to lose her job, so the best decision in this situation was to stay in the team for at least one month more. However, Benton should first talk with Deborah and Ron about her concerns. They had not had Assistant Product Manager before, so they did not know how to build relationships with Lisa properly. Experiencing this situation would help Benton develop her communication skills and raise her self-confidence.

Person Fit

Apparent Problem

Lisa Benton was very serious with choosing a place of employment after finishing her education in Harvard. She was interested in Houseworld and tried to find more information about this company as well as talked to the companys employees and managers. However, such approach to choosing a job has not helped Benton avoid the position that did not really fit her. Although she liked the company and had good relationships with colleagues from other departments, she had an apparent problem with motivation. Lisa Bentons team members did not allow her to create action plans for projects. She was only responsible for analyzing of data and some other easy tasks, so Benton could not fully use her knowledge, skills, and abilities. Besides, the team leader did not provide Lisa with opportunities for further professional development. Therefore, the main reasons of low motivation were monotonous job duties, the lack of responsibility, and ineffective relationships with team members.

The main dilemma for decision-maker of this case study is whether Benton has to stay in Houseworld or to apply for a job in Right-Away Stores. One part of the dilemma is that Lisa Benton does not feel happy in Houseworld. However, the company keeps a leading position in the industry market, so working there is very promising and positive for the career (Hill & Weber, 1994). Talking about Right-Away Stores, it does not have a very strong brand name but she felt much happier there. Her boss believed in her and used to give interesting and stimulating tasks. In fact, the main difficulty for Lisa Benton was to choose between stability and uncertain but promising perspectives. Right-Away Stores was stability, whereas Houseworld provided more opportunities for future career success.

Analysis

The experience of Lisa Benton reveals that the company has problems with managing the work of new employees. On the one hand, Houseworld had many effective approaches towards newcomers. For example, new staff members had one-month long formal orientation where they can meet representatives of other departments and learn more about the company. Besides, Houseworld had regular performance evaluations, so employees had more opportunities for professional development. Overall, there was a good communication and cooperation between employees from different departments. For example, Lisa had numerous invitations for lunch from many of her colleagues. She also has received support from other people after her argument with Ron Scoville.

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On the other hand, the company did not pay much attention to the motivation of its personnel and their proper training. Although everybody agreed that Deborah Linton did not train her subordinates well, none of the companys managers have ever tried to address the issue. What is more, many people who work in Houseworld mentioned Ron Scovilles inability to make good relationships with other people. Another obvious issue was negative attitude of Ron Scoville and Deborah Linton towards employees with MBA degrees. Lisa Benton suffered from all these negative factors. She was interested in learning, development and gaining new experience and Lintons behavior reduced Lisas motivation and deteriorated her psychological well-being. In the beginning, Benton tried to obtain some recommendations from her boss but Linton did not have time for that. Ron Scoville talked to Lisa as he was also her boss and Linton was always only on his side. Moreover, because both Ron and Deborah did not like holders of MBA degree, Lisa Benton was afraid of being too active. For example, she refused to express her opinion during employees meetings. Finally, good communication with people was important for Bentons job satisfaction, so she felt depressed because of intense relationships with her team members Deborah Linton and Ron Scoville.

This dilemma involves three significant facts, which help to understand the work of the organization better. First, the typing accident reveals that the managers of the company had various perceptions of what is a team work. Thus, Group Product Manager Jack Vernon criticized Lisa Benton for editing Word document because this was not her job responsibility. In Houseworld, secretaries were responsible only for typing documents. However, Lisa Bentons product manager Deborah Linton supported her and told her about the importance of team work. Such difference in opinions confused Benton and she did not understand how she should behave next time in similar situation. Houseworld definitely had to provide their managers with more trainings connected to the rules of team work and the division of labor between different employees.

The second meaningful fact is coping episode. Rob Scoville wanted Lisa to copy some documents for him. Lisa replied that she could not help him because she was working on other project. However, Rob forced her to do the copying immediately. Deborah Linton also supported Scoville and criticized Benton for not working as a team. This case was confusing for Lisa because it contradicted the guidelines of Group Product Manager, who told her not to do the work of other people.

The third important fact is work performance evaluation. Lisa Bentons manager agreed to provide some evaluation only after she request. In other divisions, managers made performance evaluation with greater enthusiasm.

Therefore, these three facts demonstrate that the team of Deborah Linton had specific perceptions of team-work, process of duties division and work performance evaluation. According the scenario of the case, other divisions have other attitudes to these aspects.

Real Problem

The real and apparent problems are the same. Lisa Benton had problem with motivation caused by the lack of responsibilities, monotonous tasks and poor relationships with her team members Ron Scoville and Deborah Linton. These three factors did not allow Lisa to use her talents fully. Besides, it seemed that she was not confident in her abilities because her boss did not give a positive feedback about work she have done and also never increased the level of difficulty of assignments. In Right-Away Stores, the manager believed in her and gradually has expanded the list of her responsibilities, so Lisa Benton could feel satisfaction from her job. Besides, the team leader explained her, what can she expect in the nearest future. Therefore, she was motivated by the attitudes of her boss and future perspectives of career growth in Right-Away Stores but felt the lack of motivation in Houseworld due to absence of these main positive, motivation-provoking factors.

Alternatives

However, it is also possible to analyze the case from other perspective. Despite some obvious issues, Lisa Benton had many opportunities for development even under thr leadership of Deborah Linton. Other employees at Houseworld mentioned that Linton is a good specialist but Benton is her first Assistant Product Manager. This fact explains why she was not able to train her subordinate well. From her own perspective, Benton had to demonstrate more patience and understanding. She could also help Linton enhance her skills of teaching others. As for Ron Scoville, he was probably not very bad person and wanted to help Lisa but his condescending tone could have been simply misinterpreted. Scoville had more experience than Lisa, and she felt it and treated his tone as something negative. Instead, Benton could have asked Ron to teach her something she did not know. In fact, it seems that Benton had a lack of good communication skills and self-confidence. She was constantly saying about the fear of sharing her real opinion about the situation and the projects she worked with.

Alternative # 1: Staying in Houseworld

Lisa stays in the company and continues to work with Debora Linton and Ron Scoville.

Advantages

Opportunities for professional development because both team members have excellent skills and big experience

Good ability to enhance her communication skills, which would be valuable for working with demanding customers

Disadvantages

Necessity to work with her own psychological problems, including lack of self-confidence

This solution will be challenging and energy-consuming

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Alternative # 2: Return to Right-Away Stores

Lisa Benton leaves Houseworld and return to her previous employer.

Advantages

Full support and understanding from the manager

More interesting assignments there and higher job position

Disadvantages

Working for the company with lower market positions

This solution will be not so effective for Bentons self-development. She has good relationships with her boss and colleagues so the person would have less motivation to improve her skills, especially communication ones

To sum up, Lisa should either stay in Houseworld or return to the previous employer.

Recommendation

Based on the results of the comparative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each solution, alternative #1, staying in Houseworld, seems to be more suitable for the main actor of the case and is advised. What is more, Lisa Benton has to continue working together with Deborah Linton and Ron Scoville. Although she may have full support and understanding of the manager as well as more interesting tasks and higher position in Right-Away Stores, Houseworld provides more opportunities for career development. Besides, this solution can help to save Bentons time, because if she chooses another department or another organization, she would have to waste time on adaptation to the new place and people. Benton has already learnt strengths and weaknesses of her team members, so she knows what to expect from them. In addition, she would have to wait for promotion less time. She has been working for four months in the company that means that she has to wait maximum 14 months for moving up. Apart from that, Lisa would learn how to work with people who do not really like her or indifferent to her. Although work at Houseworld is more stressing, Bentons personality would benefit from this.

Plan of Action

First of all, Lisa Benton should ask Deborah Linton to organize a meeting, where they can discuss the situation. Ron Scoville should be also present there. The main aspect of the meeting is a lack of understanding between three of them. For example, she can tell about the typing incident and coping episode. Benton needs to emphasize that she wants to work as a part of a team but first she has to know the rules. Lisa Benton should explain her frustration about assignments Ron gave her and his disrespectful tone. He probably has his own opinion about these cases and would share it with others. Second, Lisa has to ask for more responsibilities because the previous assignments did not allow her to use her skills and abilities fully. For example, she can ask about participating during the creation of actions plans. Finally, Lisa should ask Ron and Deborah to share their perceptions of the situation, because they probably have different opinions.

Lisa Benton should also be more active and confident in order to gain more respect from her team members. Overall, Lisa should stay in the team for at least one month more. If the situation does not improve, she can ask about moving to another department or leaving the organization at all.

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