Business Management — Final Case Analysis

What should Dave do now and why? Discuss possible alternative solutions and propose a recommendation with a rationale for that recommendation.

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Primary Recommendation

The primary recommendation to Dave Griffin is to understand the conceptual difference between friendliness and employee orientation. Specifically, employee orientation does not necessarily mean taking a particular interest in the lives and personal circumstances of individual employees outside of the job. In the context of the recommendations from the leadership seminar pertaining to employee orientation, the specific types of changes required to increase a supervisor’s degree of employee orientation comprises elements such as identifying the specific reasons that to perform at a higher level; it also means understanding what .

In principle, the recommended approach for Dave is to abandon his efforts to ingratiate himself socially into the lives of his poor-performing employees. Instead, Dave should express his increased effort in the realm of employee orientation in a manner that communicates his desire to understand why his high-performing employees work harder and more conscientiously than his low-performing employees, as well as what specific factors either motivate higher performance or detract from that motivation on the part of his lower-performing employees.

If anything, Dave’s misunderstanding of the concept of “employee orientation” and his attempts to ingratiate himself socially into the lives of his poor-performing employees was counterproductive: instead of motivating them to perform better, they likely reinforced those employees’ current level of dedication to their positions and their responsibilities by communicating (albeit indirectly) that Dave was pleased with their performance at the level that Dave considers unsatisfactory.

Possible Alternative Solutions

Dave should abandon any attempt to motivate improved performance among low-performing employees by means of expressing greater personal interest in their lives, especially to the extent that interest relates to their lives and circumstances outside of work. The modern approach to employee motivation and performance management emphasizes the bilateral direction of information transfer that is bottom-up in addition to top-down (Daft, 2005; Russell-Whalling, 2008). Dave should try implementing mechanisms recommended by contemporary personnel management specialists such as soliciting information directly from employees who are performing poorly.

This type of approach is what Dave’s leadership seminar should have explained in connection with the concept of being employee-oriented. Inquiring into what specific factors in the work environment contribute to high performance and low performance with respect to individual employees is one effective means of becoming more employee-oriented (Daft, 2005; Russell-Whalling, 2008). Conversely, chatting up subordinates and inquiring into personal lives and circumstances is not an effective method of improving performance and may also result in other problems relating to unnecessary personal involvement that could potentially undermine supervisory authority and respect for the supervisor.

Likewise, that effort probably provides unintentional positive feedback that is very susceptible to misinterpretation as positive reinforcement and to the erroneous perception among poor-performing employees that their level of performance in satisfactory by virtue of the increased apparent personal interest in their lives on the part of their supervisor. Instead of taking more of an interest in the personal lives and circumstances of his subordinates or in initiating friendly conversations, Dave should begin a series of scheduled one-on-one interviews with individual employees to identify the specific reasons that some of them are performing unsatisfactorily.

During the interview sessions, Dave should inquire into what his employees like about their jobs, what they dislike about their jobs, which functions they like and dislike, what changes they would like to see, what suggestions they would offer to implement positive changes, and what types of rewards might increase motivation to perform at the highest level possible (Russell-Whalling, 2008).


The rationale for implementing interviews of this nature is that they are likely to reveal information that could be useful to Dave. Specifically, he may be able to identify changes in the respective responsibilities of various individual employees that could increase their motivation. Similarly, to the extent the interviews are productive sources of information, Dave might identify various types of rewards (such as in the form of privileges, eligibilities, or opportunities) that could better motivate his poorer performers than any attempts to know them more personally or warnings of the type that have already proven ineffective at improving performance.

The rationale for abandoning the previous method of improving performance through social ingratiation is that this method does not address any of the reasons likely to be responsible for the low performance levels of employees. Equally important is the fact that social ingratiation, particularly when it suddenly increases on the part of a supervisor) is almost certainly counterproductive because it suggests the very opposite of what Dave needs to communicate: it suggests that Dave is pleased with his employees instead of communicating that changes are necessary. Finally, this method may actually undermine Dave’s apparent authority or decrease the respect that his employees have for Dave.

From a management perspective, critically evaluate Dave’s past attempts to address performance issues.

From a contemporary management perspective, Dave’s past attempts to address performance issues were extremely flawed and very unlikely to achieve the changes that he hoped to inspire. Specifically, warnings that improved performance is necessary followed by short-lived improvement and then a return to previous performance levels are counterproductive (Daft, 2005). In that regard, allowing a cycle of temporary improvement without any consequences once performance returns to unsatisfactory levels only devalues any further attempts to motivate through similar warnings (Daft, 2005). With respect to the mechanism of warnings, Dave should either have avoided using them altogether or used them only in conjunction with simultaneously establishing definitive negative consequences for failing to achieve and maintain high performance.

From a contemporary management and industrial psychology perspective, Dave’s past attempt to improve performance by ingratiating himself socially into the lives of his subordinates was also a mistake. The fact that Dave increased his social presence in this manner only provided unintentional positive feedback that completely contradicted the message he meant to communicate in connection with any warnings about performance. Dave should have restricted his new interest in his employees to professional performance issues instead of doing so on a more personal level.


Daft, R. (2005). Management 7th Edition. Mason: Thomson South Western.

Russell-Whalling, E. (2008). 50 Management Ideas You Really Need to Know.

London: Quercus