After working at Modern Lighting Industries (MLI) for a short time Jamie Turner is confronted with differences between the president, Pat Cardullo, and himself. Jamie is concerned that the relationship between he and Pat has grown to be unpredictable and frustrating, which is causing much uncertainty. Analysis:
It may be that the hierarchy in the organization struggle with conflict management.
While working at his first job out of college Jamie’s boss had taught him that a cardinal rule when handling subordinates: “Praise in public, censure in private.” Jamie had notices after a few months at MLI that Pat treated other employees more volatile and unpredictable. More often in meetings Cardullo was using profanity and raising his voice. Jamie felt that Pat’s behavior was extreme and unnecessary. He was starting to have concerns that the manner in which Cardullo was managing were turning out to be destructive.
Another conflict that came about was when Juanita Swenson brought Jamie Turner a spreadsheet which showed some cash flow concerns. When they approached Julie Chin about the situation she gave an explanation and stated that the cash flow of MLI is strong. Unsatisfied with the explanation, Turner went to Cardullo and they all had a meeting that afternoon. Pat could not see the problem and disregarded the matter as unimportant. This incident diminished the relationship between Julie and Jamie.
These types of conflict situations are discussed in the article “Too Hot to Handle? How to Manage Relationship Conflict” (Edmondson and Smith, 2006). They describe the difference between task conflict and relationship conflict. While the conflicts within MLI start off as task conflicts, they tend to eventually become relationship conflicts. MLI meetings tend to debate the hot topics regularly with the same points being repeated. After a while the discussions start becoming more personal, it is at this point when Cardullo displays a more aggressive and frustrating characteristics. These emotions constrict the flow of progress and can have negative impacts. Pat has primarily displayed these characteristics at various times. One example is when he insisted that Ernie Dennis change the layout of the warehouse so he could get a better idea of what was in inventory. When Cardullo was told that the change would be less efficient and that the computer system was capable of getting accurate information he became furious at Dennis and demanded the change. Another incident occurred when some sensitive information leaked. Pat had accused Jamie that it had to be one of his team members regardless of not having any evidence to support his accusation. Turner had mentioned the situation at a staff meeting. After it was brought up Cardullo abruptly left the meeting and slammed the door. These types of incidents tend to create ““organizational faultlines” – interfaces in a firm where tensions build and eruptions occur causing potential damage.” The search advisor that had introduced Jamie to MLI had informed him that Julie Chin and Pat Cardullo had a strong working relationship. After Julie felt threatened by Juanita and Jamie it was apparent that there were some organizational faultlines.
It may be that there are generational differences between Pat and Jamie. It is Jamie’s assumption that Pat is in his mid-fifties. Pat has worked his way up the corporate ladder within the Triple S organization. Cardullo was the only high-level executive to handle the acquisition of Modern Lighting Industries, which was probably the reason that he was the president of MLI. Jamie is only 32 years old and had just recently completed his MBA. He also has not been in his position with the organization nearly as long as Pat Cardullo has been.
As discussed in the article “What Are They Thinking” there are many differences in how each generation interprets and reacts to experiences. Being a part of...
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