Diversity in Management
Case study 1
Michael is a Black college graduate and the divorced father of a teenage son, Aaron,
who attends a private school in the well-to-do suburb where they live. Michael is a
brilliant loner. As a student, he made a habit of avoiding group assignments and group work whenever possible. At work, he prefers to stay to himself. If he has to work with others, he prefers projects in which everyone has individual responsibilities. Teaming with coworkers, he feels, slows him down and lessens the quality of his work. Michael readily points to examples of his work on groups. In some instances, the final product, he thinks, is not nearly as good as what Michael feels he is capable of creating alone. When he is not the group leader, Michael feels as though his talents are underutilized. Invariably, he gets assigned tasks that do not challenge him. In addition, Michael largely avoids interacting with other employees after work. He does not dislike other employees; rather, he feels somewhat uncomfortable. At company picnics and parties, he has a difficult time finding common ground in his conversations with coworkers. His taste in music, food, and entertainment is clearly not the norm for this group. Because he is often one of only a few African-Americans at these functions, he feels “under the spotlight.” Consequently, he relishes his time away from work, where he can be himself, play with his son, and relax.
1. Michael’s experiences at work illustrate obstacles to teamwork. What are these
obstacles, and how do they interfere with teamwork?
2. What might Michael do to become more of a team player? What might his
coworkers do to facilitate teamwork and help Michael feel more included?
Case Study 2
Michael is a Black college graduate, and the divorced father of a teenage son, Aaron,
who attends a private school in the well-to-do suburb where they live. Michael works
as a senior manager for a small consulting firm. The job requires quite a bit of travel
and a great deal of networking. Michael’s performance evaluations have been excel-lent. He enjoys the long hours his job requires. One of Michael’s subordinates, Sarah, is actively involved with her church, and she spends much of her time after work and on weekends doing volunteer work. As a Christian, she feels deeply committed to serving others whenever she can, particularly those in her community. When she can, she also participates in company-sponsored volunteer projects.
After hearing about Sarah’s volunteer work, the head of the firm asked Michael
to talk to Sarah. Specifically, he asked Michael to express to Sarah that she needs to
channel more of her time and energy into her work.
Soon thereafter, Michael called Sarah into his office to discuss her performance
since her last annual evaluation. He gave Sarah a great deal of positive feedback but
needed to address the quantity of her volunteer work. He said, “You know I see you
do all this volunteer stuff and that’s all well and good. But if you have this much time on your hands, you really should be spending more of your time with client work and developing business proposals.” Michael feels very conflicted about this issue. He almost feels as if the underlying message from his supervisor is to stop helping people who need it, and spend more time at work.
1. Could Michael have handled this matter more effectively? Explain.
2. Under what conditions is it appropriate for a supervisor to comment
about an employee’s volunteer work?
3. Which of Michael’s leadership skills is being tested? Explain
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