Discussion_Virtual Workplace Discussion_Virtual Workplace
Watch the first video that describes the initial meeting between Ralph and Angela.
Then watch the video “Afterthoughts”.
Read the Scenario and the Profiles of the managers involved in the meetings.
Post your answer to the following questions.
How would you grade Ralph on his management skills, techniques and overall performance?
In your opinion, how should Ralph react when Angela asks for resignation? Should he end the meeting, or accept resignation, or try a new approach? What strategy would you suggest to Ralph?
How would you have conducted the meeting? Include concrete instructions on how you’d do it differently..or better. Manager’s Hot Seat
Case 12: Virtual Workplace: Out of Office Reply
R: Angela, so good to see you. How have you been?
A: I’m Ok.
R: Well I am glad that you are here. I mean I know that we talked on the phone briefly but I think there are some issues we need to discuss.
A: Ralph, you’re blaming me for missing the deadline. You called me and said how come you are late on the report? I am not late. I think that I am working from home; I’m not in your mind. I’m out of sight.
R: Now, let me tell you what happened in my sight. You know how critical this deadline was. Now whatever happened, I really got in a lot of trouble.
A: Yeah, and you’re blaming me.
R: I’m not blaming you. I just want to know what happened. I just want to get to the bottom of it.
A: You didn’t tell me.
R: We did move the deadline 4 days but we posted this online and we sent emails to all the managers saying that we were going to move the deadline 4 days earlier.
A: Well I didn’t get that email. Since I have been working at home things have changed. And not only that, I thought Simmons told me that you are giving him high stakes claims and I am not getting anything. And that bothers me.
R: So you are feeling that I am giving the big cookies to somebody else, and since you moved home, I am not taking care of you. I am not giving you the big assignments.
R: Well essentially Angela, that’s not the way it goes, that’s reality. I’m giving Bob more claims, but they are small, compared to what you are working on.
A: No, no, no, no, no. He is getting the good stuff, and I am not.
R: Every single employee in this company is different. And each one of you, even if you have the same experience in the field, you have a different skill set. This particular case that you are mentioning, Ok, Bob already worked several times with the same customer. I am not saying that you are not good at it. But he already knew the customer; he already had a good relationship with them. The cases that I am giving you are the ones that you have already worked. I wouldn’t dream of giving those to Bob. Do you understand what I am saying? It doesn’t make any difference right now because you are working from home. I’m just trying to give you what I know you are going to be able to deliver. Let’s set up a meeting time. Unfortunately, today, I wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t know you were feeling this way. We didn’t have enough time to discuss the issues. But I can guarantee we are going to get to a resolution. You are absolutely right; it is a communication issue here. Can we say maybe Friday morning; are you going to be around?
A: Ok, give me Friday at 10 am. I will be here.
R: Angela, welcome back. It is good to see you again. How are you doing? How is everything?
A: Well I am sorry that I missed that appointment. I was too busy. I’m sorry. I was just too busy and I couldn’t make it.
R: Let’s just talk about this. The question was personal. I haven’t talked to you in two weeks. How are you doing?
A: I’m ok. I’m ok.
R: Ok, everything good at home?
A: Everything is fine.
R: Great. So I guess you want to get directly to business.
R: I’m just a little concerned because in the past 4 years, you have never cancelled a meeting with me, so I guess I’m just a little concerned with what is going on.
A: I didn’t think we were going to resolve anything last week.
R: Let’s talk about a couple of issues. First, the second report that we missed this week, I want to hear from you why I didn’t get the report on time.
A: Because I, as I said, I don’t think I’m getting the same treatment as other employees are getting here in the company. And I just don’t like it. I think you feel that I am not doing what I am supposed to do at the house, when I’m working from home.
R: I am having serious concern. Why? Because we are not communicating. I trust you. I trust every single one of you. But I need to know, I put my trust based on delivery and so far, I see you missing two deadlines. The first one was a miscommunication.
A: Because you didn’t read your emails.
R: Correct. The first one was a miscommunication and you resolved it immediately. But you are admitting now…
A: Ralph, I’m sorry…
R: Let me just finish now, you are saying that the second one was intentional. Correct? You didn’t feel like sending the report because you felt like something was not right. Correct?
A: Uh huh.
R: Ok, that is not the Angela I know.
A: That is not the Ralph that I know.
R: Ok. That’s great. What are we going to do to resolve this? What do you suggest?
A: I have no idea. You know what? I think I’m going to resign.
R: Ok, Angela. Sit down, please; we have known each other for a long time.
A: No, no, no, no, no. There is no more Angela here. I want to resign. I can’t stand it anymore.
R: I understand you. Can you listen to me for just 5 more minutes, and then you can resign after that. I’m asking you for 5 minutes. Thank you. You are one of the most valuable employees of this company. There are some things we need to address. We all have our own personal life; we all have our own problems; I understand it. I want this to work out. I want the Angela that I had 4 years ago. And if I did something wrong, I apologize to you. I promise you that we can work it out. I am going to change, you are going to change. Let’s try to find out what the real problem is here. You feel that I am not taking care of you, and I feel that you are not performing. Let’s put that aside for a minute. Are you willing to go back to working here in the office if necessary?
A: I would rather work from home, but if my performance is going to seem better by me being here, I will come back to the office.
R: Very good. Let’s do this. We are going to give each other 2 weeks. You are going to continue working form home and we are going to interact on a daily basis. We are going to get on the phone and I am going to talk to you everyday. If after 2 weeks, this is not working for you, or is not working for me, then you are going to come back to the office. And you are going to work for another 2 weeks with me. And we are going to see at that point, if that makes a difference. If maybe what we are missing here is just that we need to be close to each other. Does that make sense to you? It is a plan for you, as well as for me.
A: It sounds fair.
R: And after that, we will make a decision. Good?
A: Sounds good.
R: Well my strategy for resolving problems is pretty simple. You need to listen to the other person. I think that if you really listen and really make the other person feel comfortable with you, something positive is always going to come out. I don’t know at this point what is going to happen in the future, but it can’t be worse than this. It is always going to be more positive. I have many issues with people working from home, especially in my industry, so I try to stay away as much as I can form it. You can’t keep track of the time or you can’t keep track of what is going on, you have to go through phone or email I don’t think that is personal. I don’t think that that is how a manager should track or oversee his employees. So the distance issue and the time management issue are the two critical points that I see. If I have to do it, I am very upfront with the employees. We set a plan, a written plan that he signs and I sign. We elaborate goals, what time we are reporting, etc. Everything should be transparent. I should expect the same performance as in the office. I give the employee room to tell me what he or she needs to accomplish that, to give me 100% of what that person is doing in the office. So that we have a compromise upfront and as soon as I see that it is not working, we walk away form it. I am big in testing these plans. I like to give an evaluation period of a few weeks to see if it works, and then give the final approval to work from home.