The Vice President Tom Brewster Case Study

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Tom Brewster, one of the field sales managers of Major Tool Works, Inc, was promoted to his first headquarters assignment as an assistant product manager for a group of products with which he was relatively unfamiliar. Shortly after he undertook this new assignment, one of the company’s vice presidents, Nick Smith called a meeting of product managers and other staff to plan marketing strategies. Brewster’s immediate superior, the product manager, was unable to attend, so the director of marketing, Jeff Reynolds invited Brewster to the meeting to help orient him to his new job. Because of the large number of people attending Reynolds was rather brief in introducing Brewster to Smith, who as vice president, was presiding over the meeting. After the meeting began, Smith—a crusty veteran with a reputation for bluntness began asking a series of probing questions that most of the product managers were able to answer in detail. Suddenly he turned to Brewster and began to question him quite closely about his group of products. Somewhat confused, Brewster confessed that he did not know the answers. It was immediately apparent to Reynolds that Smith had forgotten or had failed to understand that Brewster was new to this job and was attending the meeting more for his own orientation than to contribute to it, He was about to offer a discreet explanation when Smith, visibly annoyed with what he took to be Brewster’s lack of preparation, announced. “Gentleman you have just seen an example of sloppy staff work, and there is no excuse for it”. Reynolds had to make a quick decision. He could interrupt Smith and point out that he had judged Brewster unfairly; but that course of action might embarrass both his superior and his subordinates. Alternatively, he could wait until after the meeting and offer an explanation in private. In as much as Smith quickly became engrossed in another conversation, Reynolds decided to follow the second approach. Glancing at Brewster, Reynolds noted...
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