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Problems with John Dr. Schleckser

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1 As the team leader, you have weighed the pros and cons of the five options and prepare a presentation to management on how to address this problem. What do you suggest?

As a team leader, my presentation to management would begin this way.

Since this will probably not be an isolated case, much thought and consideration was given to this problem, and how it has and could affect the firm and all our employees. John has had a tenure with this firm for over 15 years, his experience and commitment have proven to be very valuable to the company. Unfortunately, in recent times, John’s productivity has diminished greatly. This decrease in productivity is due to the lack of promotion opportunities which John feels he deserves. Although, John has worked here for 15 years, he presently does not have an engineering degree, which is a prerequisite for advancement for all engineers. Because he is disgruntled, his performance has affected the team which he works with. Since John has demonstrated and can continue to have great value to the firm, my suggestion would be the following:

Have a meeting with John
Express to John that we value him, and appreciate his service to the company. Inform John that we have a problem, and value his suggested solution. Explain to John that the company policy for promotions is presently restricted to those who have engineering degrees, however, there would be a possibility that upper management may review and implement another track for promotion based on experience, productivity, and potential education advancement (this is where I would ask management to consider a promotion track for those who do not have engineering degrees, and each decision will be based upon the managers recommendation and reviewed by upper management). Indicate – WE DON’T WANT TO LOSE OUR GOOD PEOPLE. Inform John that based on his 15 year tenure, he meets the experience that is required, with his participation to attain additional education; however, there is a deficiency in one vital area.

That area is his current productivity and attitude. I would express to John that his diminished productivity not only affects the team, his friends, and fellow employees, but also his potential for promotion. I would reiterate our appreciation for his service and our great concerned for his welfare and family, however, his productivity has produced a problem that’s over my head, and it’s something that upper management is very concerned about (this is where I would need upper management to allow me to use them as the ‘Bad Guy”, so to speak to make my point). Give John Two Options { express this as solutions not ultimatums) Option #1 – John can be moved to another department, however, the problem of productivity and attitude may follow him.

Express to John that as his long term friend and present team leader, the new department may not be as favorable to his production. State to John this could result in possible negative action even to dismissal. I would let him know that no one, include upper management wants that – but his actions would force our hand! If John decides to remain with the present department and his production/attitude does not change, he will be moved. Also, I will inform John about the Review Milestone Process. Option #2 – John can remain in the present department and decide to make an adjustment in his production/performance/attitude with a team leader evaluation based on the following Review Milestones Process: (14) day documented review with suggestions by team leader

(30) day documented review with suggestions and an education plan by John and team leader (certification, degree) (90) day documented review with suggestions and progress report of the education plan by John and team leader (180) day documented review with suggestions and review of the ongoing educational plans John’s pursuing by team leader (1) yr. Annual Review

Express to John that because he is valued by the firm, these are measures which are granted to him that are not company policy. Also, I would inform management that I would suggest that John must be proactive, not the firm, in his search go back for his engineering degree or at least some certification classes which could benefit and communicate his increased value to the firm. Whatever option is taken will be documented.

1. Considering each of the options, and develop an argument to defend your position for each option.

Do nothing – as a team leader and a personal friend of John, I believe I can convince him to make an adjustment in his productivity. I feel this is the best solution at the time, because of his prior contribution to the team, He is vitally important. To do anything else would increase the risk of project failure.

Bypass company policy and promote John – after investigating the policies of our competitors and other firms, I have learned that they have come up with the conclusion that there are employees who lack the required degree in a specific field, yet have the expertise and experience. Due to their experience and expertise they have decided to implement strategies to promote personnel whose experience and expertise meet or exceed the requirement of a degree. John is an example of such an individual. My proposal is to promote John based on his value to the company and his 15 years of tenure. I believe his productivity will increase far beyond what we can imagine, and he will continue to be an asset to our team in present and future projects. I would also suggest that we collaborate to implement strategies to assist other employees who lack degrees, but yet have the experience and expertise. Let’s forecast to launch this strategy in six to nine months.

Talk John into going back to college – informed John that the company has reviewed promotion options and presently no decision has been made for employees who lack degrees. Express to John that it would be very unfair to other employees, in his and other departments, who had the experience, expertise, and tenure to be denied a promotion (based on the lack of degree) and see him receive a promotion without the degree. Inform John that as his friend, I can only imagine the difficulties, challenges, and pressure that he may face while going back to school, however he has my support. We can discuss ways and methods to decrease the stress related workload which he daily faces in order to achieve his goal of an engineering degree. This could only occur if he would improve his productivity and attitude immediately, so the project team and I can support him and his endeavor.

Relocate John to a different project team – based on our previous experience, when an employee reaches the point where productivity becomes low and their attitude has affected project development, we have learned it is best to relocate the employee to another department. In lieu of terminating the employee, we found that a fresh start in another department has allowed the employee to be more productive, efficient, and less stressed. We believe this would be beneficial for John, since the project team is not being properly facilitated by his involvement. John is a very valuable employee of the company and to terminate him would greatly affect the profitability of our company. His expertise, commitment, and experience would be a great advantage to another department. In addition, it would be good to have someone with a fresh insight to assist this department in their endeavors.

Terminate John’s employment – we have follow company policy, and made every attempt to institute methods to increase John’s productivity. Because of his stance and refusal to increase his productivity the project team and project is suffering. Based on his previous reviews, and non-compliance to make adjustments, we have no other alternative but to terminate John.

2. What specific leadership behaviors mentioned in this chapter are most relevant to addressing and resolving the problem with John?

Motivation, empathy, and social skills are essential components of leadership and emotional intelligence. These are some of the specific behaviors that can help resolve the problem with John

Motivation – effective project managers are consistently highly motivated individuals. Motivation must be internal for the project manager and external motivation comes from the project manager for the project team. Without a motivated individual to team flounders and potentially fails. John need this type of motivation to succeed.

Empathy – this is a human trait which produces a concern for the individual. Empathy fosters identification, and consideration of other team member’s feelings. This allows one to recognize the differences of each one of his subordinates and plan accordingly. A brash and harsh project manager will receive the same amount empathy which he or she projects. This can be very detrimental to any project.

Social skills – this works hand-in-hand with technical skills. Good social skills help the leader understand John’s predicament. As the leader her, listen, and talk to John they could discuss resolution. By practicing social skills which is actually friendliness with the purpose there could be persuasion, a greater rapport, and networking.


Covey, S. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press Publisher

Coleman, D. (1998), “What makes a Leader?” Harvard Business Review, 76 (6)

Pinto, J. K. (2013). Project Management Achieving Competitive Advantage. Upper Saddle River: Pearson

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