The Well Paid Receptionist

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The Well Paid Receptionist
Values, Attitudes and Work Behaviour from
Johns, G. & Saks, A. M. (2010). Organizational Behaviour. Pearson Education: Toronto.

Case Study
The Well-Paid Receptionist
Harvey Finley did a quick double take when he caught a glimpse of the figure representing Ms. Brannen’s salary on the year-end printout. A hurried call to payroll confirmed it. Yes, his receptionist had been paid $127 614.21 for her services last year. As he sat in stunned silence, he had the sudden realization that since his firm was doing so well this year, she would earn at least 10 to 15 percent more money during the current fiscal year. This was a shock, indeed. Background

Harvey began his career as a service technician for a major manufacturer of copy machines. He received rather extensive technical training, but his duties were limited to performing routine, on-site maintenance and service for customer. After a year’s experience as a service technician, he asked for and received a promotion to sales representative. In this capacity, he established many favourable contacts in the business community of Troupville and the surrounding towns. He began to think seriously about capitalizing on his success by opening his own business.

Then, seven years ago, he decided to take the plunge and start his own firm. He was tired of selling for someone else. When he mentioned his plan to his friends, they all expressed serious doubts; Troupville, a city of approximately 35 000 people located in the Deep South, had just begun to recover from a severe recession. The painful memories of the layoffs, bankruptcies, and plummeting real estate values were too recent and vivid to be forgotten.

Undeterred by the skeptics, Harvey was optimistic the Troupville’s slow recovery would soon become a boom. Even though his firm would certainly have to be started on a shoestring, Harvey thought his sales experience and technical competence would enable him to survive what was sure to be a difficult beginning. He was nervous but excited when he signed the lease on the first little building. A lifelong dream was either about to be realized or dashed forever. Troupville Business Systems was born.

While he has managed to borrow rent, lease, or subcontract for almost everything that was absolutely necessary, he did need one employee immediately. Of course, he hoped the business would expand rapidly and that he would soon have a complete and competent staff. But until he could be sure that some revenue would be generated, he thought he could get by with one person who would be a combination receptionist/secretary and general assistant.

The typical salary for such a position in the area was about $30 000 per year; for Harvey, this was a major expense. Nevertheless, he places what he thought was a well-worked ad in the “Help Wanted” section of the local newspaper. There were five applicants, four of whom just did not seem quite right for the position he envisioned. The fifth applicant, Ms. Cathy Brannen, was absolutely captivating.

Ms. Brannen was 27 years old with one child. Her resume showed that she had graduated from a two-year office administration program at a state university. She had worked for only two employers following graduation, one from five years and the most recent for two years. Since returning to her hometown of Troupville two months ago, following her divorce, she had not been able to find suitable employment.

From the moment she sat down for the interview, Harvey and Ms. Brannen seemed to be exactly the same wavelength. She was very articulate, obviously quite bright, and most importantly, very enthusiastic about assisting with the start-up of the new venture. She seemed to be exactly the sort of person Harvey had envisioned when he first begun to think seriously about taking the plunge. He resisted the temptation to offer her the job on the spot, but ended the hour-long interview...
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