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Dick Spencer Case Analysis sample essay

Dick Spencer, a successful salesman within the Tri-American Corporation has decided to move his career to another level and take on the challenges of joining the management ranks. While Dick Spencer was a very effective salesman he soon found out that being a manager meant more than just walking around telling others what to do. In this case analysis four key issues will be addressed.

* Micromanagement
* Low Morale
* Work-life balance and issues stemming from family stress
* Resistance to Change

The four issues stated above were identified in this case analysis as being some of the key contributors to some of the troubles Dick Spencer has experienced while learning how to become an effective manager. With the use of research this paper will show that if these four areas were addressed differently Dick Spencer’s outcome and experience in the plant could have been much different.


One of the fastest ways to ruin your reputation as a manager is to become a micro-manager. In a straight talk article Sal Marino stated: “Micromanagers manage with rules, ratios, percentages, matrixes, formulas, guidelines, models, and straitjacket budgets. They are control freaks whose tools are pronouncements, policies, demands, and dictums. They manage by memorandum.(1998)” The last thing an employee would like to see is their supervisor practicing any of the characteristics Sal Marino stated above. In business, like most things in life, there is a hierarchy, food chain, or chain of command that all of us must work or live in. It is just as important for a manager to understand and respect the chain as it is for subordinates too. Dick Spencer’s background in sales and most of his career has been self-managed. He was use to working in an environment where he saw issues and had to make the changes himself. Taking those same practices into management has caused him to almost ignore and not respect the chain of command within the organization.

When changes needed to be made Dick Spencer should have addressed these changes to his shift supervisors, and then let them make the changes to their individual teams of employees. Dick’s role as Vice President in the Modrow Company plant came with the responsibility of the overall success of the business. By focusing on a small portion of the process, changing the way scrap metal was being disposed of, Dick took away the supervisors role of implementing change. In this instance Dick had identified an area were productivity could be increased in the form of man-hours being used in a more productive way. Dick Spencer tried to implement the changes himself rather than identify them to his management team. This is one instance where he was being viewed as a micromanager.

Micromanagers are more concerned with the process by which a task is completed, and less with the results that are achieved (Wright, 2000). Dick Spencer’s actions in the end caused the process to be even less efficient due to the employee’s resistance to change, which will be discussed later on in this case analysis. Many times in an organization micromanagement is seen from the top-level executives all the way down through front line management. There can be an expectation for things to be ran this way, because that’s the way they have always been ran. Robert Wright (2000) stated that this could change first with front line management if they focus on four key strategies: be flexible, establish SMARTER goals, be results-oriented, and be a player/coach.

From these characteristics SMARTER goals can be easily implemented. SMARTER goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, and Easily Remembered. By adjusting goals within the organization it can be clear what the expectations are for the organization. For an employee it is important to feel a sense of consistency from day to day. If you come into work and things are changing daily and someone is telling you to stand in a different spot each day it is hard to feel comfortable in your job and almost confusing as to what is expected from you. Micromanagers’ inadvertently do this to their employee’s all the time. For Dick Spencer the problem with him management style isn’t that he is not able to manage, it’s simply that he does not know how to effectively manage. He had to find out the hard way that a manager is more that someone sitting back and barking orders.

Low Morale

Morale has been linked to job satisfaction and productivity in both a positive and negative manner. They can be very linear in relation to each other. Having low morale in the work place will lead to decreased productivity from workers, decreased retention numbers, unhappy, and unsatisfied employees. Micromanagement is a key contributor to decreased morale. People do not like to be micromanaged and over time the overall morale of the workplace will suffer from it. Sometimes the little things can matter as much as the big issues when it comes to keeping employees motivated and satisfied (Messmer, 2006). Even the best managers at times can inadvertently have a negative affect on morale. Unintentional slights like mispronouncing an employee’s name repeatedly, overlooking someone for a lunch meeting, or cutting off employees while their speaking while allowing others to talk at length (Messmer, 2006).

These small mistakes can undermine the employee’s self-confidence, cause them to become disengaged and cease making contributions, and eventually cause them to leave the company (Messmer, 2006). It would be impossible to keep everyone in your company happy all the time, but paying attention to the way managers are interfacing with their employee’s can help to ensure that morale is being kept up. When people feel appreciated, needed, and thanked for their work their job satisfaction should remain higher, which will keep their productivity higher, and their morale higher. Morale is almost like a virus. If one person has a bad attitude or bad morale it can be spread to others. If not identified and fixed this can cause major problems for the business. In turn when employees have high morale this can be spread as well.

Gene Klann (2004) identified other positive elements of having an elevated morale, pride and spirit: Satisfied customers, improved quality, lowered operating cost, increased competitiveness, increased profits, improved safety, reduced waste of all types, and reduced absenteeism, tardiness, complaints, grievances, security risks, and substance abuse. With all of these key characteristics being identified with decreased morale it is amazing that all companies do not put employee morale high on their list of importance. Dick Spencer’s walks through the plant were not viewed well by the workers. While his motives were to just see how things were running, front line management or the employees in the plant did not understand this.

If Dick Spencer would have interfaced and interacted with the employees it could have given them a sense of ease knowing that he was just trying to make sure everyone was being taken care of. The unknown caused undue stress on everyone in the facility. Communicating with the management team and explaining why he was making the walk a rounds would have allowed them to give their employee’s a heads up that he was coming and let them know that there is no need to be alarmed or nervous about his presence. For Dick Spencer it does not appear that he intentionally meant to lower employee morale, but micromanagement, and awkward plant walks played a key role in the overall morale within the plant.

Resistance to Change

People have the power to open the door to change or slam it shut (O’Connor & Fiol, 2006). Embracing change is a topic heard around many businesses today. Employees being open to making things better, to improving process, and ensuring the business succeeds. In far to many instances there are people set in their ways, and not willing to follow changes as they are being implemented. For Dick Spencer the resistance he faced was due to the methods of his management style. The chain of command should be followed up and down. When you skip over middle management, or front line managers and try to make changes directly people feel some animosity towards you. Dick Spencer should have ensured that his management team was ready to embrace change and then he could have addressed his concerns with them, and let the managers manage the process. It is important for management to realize that if they fail as leaders to get their employees to adapt and change then they are as much to blame their employees.

This is one instance were understanding management styles and techniques can start to separate those who are truly qualified to be the leader and those who have been placed in that role simply due to their tenure. Unfortunately for Dick Spencer his management role stemmed from his success in sales and his time with the company. His lack of taught leadership and management skills will make his job harder, especially in the beginning, if he is to be successful. When implementing change there is a model that should be followed. This model will help everyone involved aware of where they are in respect to the timeline, and goals. Being organized in your efforts will also help ensure the change process is done incrementally (when possible) and not all at once. Human nature is to be standoffish when processes are changed all at once.

There are different reasons people resist change, fear of the unknown, comfort with the current ways, or exhaustion from the continuous barrage of never ending changes (Folaron, 2005). Workers in Dick Spencer’s plant have been doing things a certain way for years, while they may not be the most efficient, this is how they have grown accustomed to doing them. Steps involved in the change model include: leading change, creating a shared need, shaping a vision, mobilizing commitment, monitoring progress, finishing the job, and anchoring the change (Palmer, 2004).

Leading Change

The change process needs to have a leader. The leader ensures there are resources to facilitate the change and also supports the goal completely. If your leader does not agree with the change efforts completely this can be seen by the employees and will only make the change process harder to implement. The leader develops management support and supports the goal with words and deeds (Palmer, 2004).

Creating a Shared Need

The process of getting everyone on board is important to the success of the change project. The reason for a change, whether driven by threat or opportunity, is instilled within the organization and widely shared through data; demonstration, demand or diagnosis and the need for change must exceed the resistance to it (Palmer, 2004). This being said if your desired changes have no real benefit for the business, and everyone is against it, then it is probably not worth the effort and resources to try and implement it. Many managers want things to be run their way and resistance is not accepted at all. This quality is all to often associated with micromanagement and micromanagement is a huge speed bump for many people to get over.

Shaping a Vision

The shaping a vision step is closely related to the creating a need step. This step in many processes will happen prior to creating the need. Shaping a vision is simply making sure the desired outcome of change is clear, legitimate, widely understood and shared (Palmer, 2004). When planning this
process the people planning the change should ensure that their vision is “shaped” prior to rocking the boat.

Mobilizing commitment

For Dick Spencer this is a key part of his role. This step shows that there is a strong commitment from key constituents (Dick Spencer) to invest in the change, make it work, and demand and receive management attention (Palmer, 2004). Rather than taking on the workers in the department himself Dick should have utilized his management team to present ideas for change. This shows that Dick Spencer is behind his team, believes in their ability to do their job effectively, and respects the chain of command within the company.

Monitoring Progress

When establishing goals and timelines it is important to periodically check on the progress. This step is simply that. Benchmarks are set and realized; indicators are established to guarantee accountability (Palmer, 2004). For Dick Spencer this is a task his management team should be doing and then reporting back to him directly. If he were to try and do this himself it would again appear that he was micromanaging the project.

Finishing the Job

Once change is started, it endures and flourishes (Palmer, 2004). When reaching the finish line of any project it is important to ensure that the project was successful, that the change is taking place as planned, and that people are accepting it. During this step front line managers will still need to closely monitor the process to ensure that people are not reverting back to their old way of doing things.

Anchoring the Change

Anchoring the change is simply ensuring that the process is changed for good. That appropriate management systems, such as IT, performance reviews and audits, are used to reinforce and anchor the change (Palmer, 2004). In the Dick Spencer case the change that he noticed in the process are preparing scrap sheet metal for trash may have been a legitimate concern. The changes he envisions might even save the company money in the form of man hours saved that could be better utilized doing something more productive. The problems he faced were do to resistance to change, if he would have taken the time to gather the management team and go through a process similar to this one, then the outcome of his vision may have been drastically different.

Family Stress – Work Life Balance

Work stress and family imbalance is a subject of interest for all those people who are interested in firstly knowing about the quality of working life and then secondly its effect on the family life (Sarwar & Aftab, 2011). In Dick Spencer’s role as VP he is under a great deal of stress. Ensuring a plant is profitable can be very stressful for the person in charge. Balancing that stress and commitment with the stress and commitments at home can be overwhelming at times. Organizations and the people who run them are under a lot of pressure to increase the income and profits of their organizations, to do things faster, better, and with less cost, and with fewer people (Sarwar & Aftab, 2011). Dick Spencer has already in the past exhibited signs of being a micromanager. Feeling overwhelmed with pleasure from both home and work can only increase his chances of micromanaging the plant.

Having the feeling that “if I can just get this done this way, then I can go home” or “I cannot let this fail, my family will suffer, and I will loose my job” are thoughts that might tend to go through someone’s head if they do not have a work-life-balance. Family stress may also be carried over to the office. For Dick Spencer he has already lost one marriage and now is in jeopardy of loosing his second. At some point he will have to realize that this may be his fault. Even stay at home moms need to feel that everyone in the family is doing their part. Family imbalance is defined as the extent to which individuals are not equally involved in-and not equally satisfied with their family roles (Sarwar & Aftab, 2011). For Dick Spencer chances are that each role he has is causing a negative affect on the other.

His job requires so much of his time that his family is suffering and feeling unfulfilled. The stress his wife puts on him to play his role in the family is stressing him out at work. This is a bad position to be in and especially bad if you work for this man. Now you have to deal with his stress and it is not due to anything your doing but the idea that crap runs downhill puts you in a really bad spot. Work stress can affect your performance, morale, and even your health.

According to a Health and Safety Executive, “prolonged work-related stress can lead to: poor mental health; heart disease; back pains, gastrointestinal disturbances and miscellaneous minor illnesses including trouble with gums or mouth an toothache, shortness of breath, dizziness, earache, swollen ankles, rashes or itches and headaches; and an increase in unhelpful health behavior such as missing breakfast, drinking too much alcohol and smoking”(Stress Survey, 2001). According to the experts being stressed at work can kill you! Finding a balance between work, and home life for Dick Spencer is going to be crucial for his future success. Ensuring trust in his management team will help go along way in his ability to let things go and trust that others will do their jobs correctly.

Summary and Recommendations

First and foremost Dick Spencer has to get a handle on his work life balance. Dealing with stresses from home and work are affecting his ability to do his job affectively. His ability to trust in the managers he has working under him should help him with the balancing act he is facing. For Dick Spencer the next thing he should focus on is his approach to managing and facilitating change within the organization. By utilizing the change model laid out earlier in this paper needed changes that he sees within the company can go through a thorough and planned process. This process will help remove some of the stress and demand on him personally and allow his team to help him with implementing change and dealing with the resistance to change some employees may have. Following the model when dealing with change will also help Dick Spencer with his biggest problem, and that is micromanaging. Dick needs to embrace the hierarchy within his organization.

Understanding that a VP should not be focusing on the little things and steps in each process but the overall big picture. For instance he noticed that the company was loosing man-hours by cutting the scrap metal by machine. Instead of going to them and telling them to change their process and do it this way, he should have approached the front line managers and expressed his concern that the process could be improved and then let the managers make some improvements or then they could apply the change model. While Dick Spencer’s overall responsibility is the factory he should not be worrying himself with little steps in a process.

Walking through the factory trying to find little things to change is only hurting him as well. Not only is he being viewed as a micromanager, but he is inadvertently decreasing morale within the factory. We have learned that morale is tied to many different things like production, waste cost, job satisfaction, and employee retention. While the factory should not be a party 24/7 it is however important to recognize the importance of keeping your employee’s happy and morale at its highest. The company will benefit time and time again if this is done.

Dick Spencer has the power to do this, he has the power to express his feelings and desires to his management team, and then let them do the work, and he also has the power to find a new management team if the current one is not willing to do just that. For Dick Spencer it is clear that one key factor has played apart in another. When you are the man on top and your fail then it is a downward spiral form there. Dick Spencer may benefit most from a coaching program where another executive can teach him the rules of the road, and what it takes to be a great leader.


Folaron, J. (2005). The Human Side of Change Leadership. Quality Progress 38(4), 39-43. Retrieved from Business Source Complete Klann, G. (2004). Morale Victories How Leaders Can Build Positive Energy. ABI Inform Global 24(4) 7 Marino, S. (1998). Micromanagement leads to mismanagement. Industry Week. 247(14) 22. Retrieved from Business Source Complete Messmer, M. (2006). How Small Slights Can Cause Big Damage to Morale. ABI Inform Global 88(6) 15. O’Connor, E. & Fiol, M. (2006). Moving from Resistance to Support. Business Source Complete. Physician Executive 32(5) 68-69. Retrieved from Palmer, B. (2004). Overcoming Resistance to Change. Business Source Complete. Quality Process 37(4) 35-39. Retrieved file://localhost/from https/

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