Thomas Green: Power, Office Politics, and a Career in Crisis

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HBS Case Analysis Paper
Thomas Green: Power, Office Politics, and a Career in Crisis

A person’s success in an organization not only depends on his or her personality and ability, but also how he or she manages office politics and resolves conflicts. In order to successfully manage interpersonal relations within a corporate environment, one also needs to understand the power and influence structures in one’s organization. Failure to develop effective work relationships can cause job dissatisfaction, low work performance, unnecessary conflicts, and potentially getting fired from one’s job. Thomas Green Case is a great example of how different work styles and office politics can result in a career crisis. Thomas Green, at age twenty-eight, had just recently been promoted to become the senior market specialist in Dynamic Displays six years after joining the company. Green was first recruited by Dynamic Displays as an account executive in March 2007 and quickly got the attention of the senior executives due to his impressive work performance. In July 2007, Shannon McDonald, the Travel Division Vice President, who met Green in a training seminar, directly promoted him to the position of senior market specialist despite of Green’s short arrival in the company. This was a huge leap for Green because an account executive usually moved first to a market specialist position and then become a senior market specialist after a few years of experience. As a senior market specialist, Green was responsible for “evaluating new business opportunities developing general market and specialists in his region” (HBS Case, 3). His new boss was Frank Davis, the marketing director, who then reported to Shannon McDonald. However, one potential complication with McDonald’s promotion was that Frank Davis was supposed to choose the new senior market specialist and it would not have been Green. On October 8, Green openly challenged his new boss, Frank Davis’ sale growth estimation and goals in a Budget Plan meeting. Afterwards, in an informal performance evaluation meeting on October 15, Davis gave a negative assessment of Green’s work performance and emailed McDonald about the issues discussed in their meeting. Although Green seemed to accept the criticism, tension and dissatisfaction continued to build between Green and Davis. Green was both surprised and upset with Davis’ evaluation as he not only tried to avoid Davis as much as possible after the meeting, but also verbally stated his disagreement and dislike of his boss to other employees and managers outside his group. Then in their second performance review meeting on January 28, Davis again expressed his discontent over Green’s work and attitude. And this time, Davis did not copy Green in his email to McDonald, but Green got a copy of the email from interoffice mail. And more importantly, in his email to McDonald, Davis strongly stated his intention of firing Green if Green does not change his work styles and attitudes within 30 days. Green’s career is now in danger and he needs to figure out what actions he should take as soon as possible. In this case, it is very clear that Thomas Green and Frank Davis had different work styles and personalities, which caused lots of problems and troubles in their relationships. According to the five-factor model of personality, “conscientiousness characterizes people who are careful, dependable, and self-disciplined,” and “extroversion characterizes people who are outgoing, talkative, sociable and assertive” (McShane and Von Glinow 32). Thomas Green was more of an extrovert person, while Frank Davis was more conscientious than Green. For instance, when McDonald informed Green about the opening position for a senior market specialist, he “ aggressively campaigned to be considered for this position. Over the next month, Green made several trips to corporate headquarters to meet with McDonald” (HBS Case, 3). And because of Green’s assertive and extrovert...
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