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Case study: Project team issues

BetterU College is a fictitious, small liberal arts school that is located in Maryland. The HR Director has decided to propose the implementation of a computerized system for employee performance evaluations. Three of the staff of the HR department, Steven Hansen, Training Manager, Kelly Woo, HR Analyst, and Eric Adams, Compensation Manager, have been assigned to perform this task. Steven, Kelly and Eric all know each other but normally do not interact much and have not previously worked together on a project.

Steven is a long-time employee of the college (20 years) who worked his way up from janitor to shipping and receiving clerk to office manager to a recruiter in HR to a Training Specialist to Training Manager. He is 55 years old, has an Associates degree in business, and is very creative but hates having to write reports or deliver presentations.

Kelly is relatively new to the college (3 years), having come from a rival university. She is 27 years old, has 5 years of experience and has a Masters degree in HR from Georgetown University. Kelly likes her job but is actively seeking to relocate to Oregon to be closer to her fiancé`. She hasn't told anyone but she's hoping to move within the next 4 months and may even switch careers. Her fiancé' owns a chain of convenience stores and Kelly might take over the management of one that has been experiencing declining sales.

Eric has been the Compensation Manager at the college for less than 6 months. He came from an HR consulting firm that had Fortune 100 companies as its clients. Eric was the VP of HR at the consulting firm but he was downsized when the firm was bought out by a bigger company. Eric's job at the college has meant a big pay cut but he's trying to stick it out. Rumor has it that Mark may be retiring in a few years so Eric plans to apply for his job as HR Director when it becomes available.

Case Objectives:

After analyzing this case, students should be able to:
Outline and discuss key group processes, theories, and models that are relevant to this case.
Identify the impact of individual actions on the outcome of team projects.
Discuss attributes that enable teams to function effectively and apply them to this case.
Discuss the relevance of effective coordination and communication in this case.
Recommend a course of action to help this team function more effectively in the future.

Questions - Answer the following 5 questions (each worth 20 points) by using/referencing the models and theories you have learned about in class. Please read each item carefully before responding. If you have any questions, contact your instructor.
1. Are Steven, Kelly and Eric a "team?" Why or why not?
2. Identify the key problems in this case.
3. What should Steven, Kelly and Eric have done to avoid the problems that occurred in this scenario?
4. In this scenario, it is assumed that Steven, Kelly and Eric are all from the U.S. and are located in the same place (the college). How might your answer to Question # 3 have been different (if at all) if you were told that they were all of different nationalities? What if they were not all located in the same place?
5. What do you think Steven, Kelly and Eric should do now to try to salvage the HR project and their jobs? Explain.

Solution Preview

1. Are Steven, Kelly and Eric a "team?" Why or why not?

Steve, Kelly and Eric are not a "team" yet due to numerous reasons. First of all, the personal goals and objectives of each of them do not align with the organization's goals and objectives. These individuals are not motivated enough to work together as a team for achieving the group goals. Further, the team members does not seem to have complementary skills for achieving the goals of the project. For example, none of them seem to have knowledge of implementing computerized systems before. Further, these team members have not interacted much with each other and seem to lack trust and bonding with each other. The above mentioned issues will prevent them from becoming a high performing team.

2. Identify the key problems in this case.

There are numerous issues in this ...

Solution Summary

The expert discusses a case study related to issues in project team setting. Long-time employees of a college are examined.