Karen Leary Case Analysis
What is the most significant problem in the case? The most significant problem lies between Karen and Ted is cultural difference. Besides, they seem to have communicating problem derived from cultural misunderstanding.
Therefore, the problem is caused by both of them. But the solution should be approached from Karen first because she is the manager (and also the vice president) over Ted. She is responsible to take care of her employees. 2) What are the reasons for the problem? As I mentioned above, main reasons are misunderstanding caused by cultural difference.
And Karen should give the solution, because she is the decision maker for this case.
Also, Karen uses only one way to manage her people. She does not accept challenge toward her. Since there is no one right way to coach, and even more, coaching is not only way to solve the problem, she should consider contingency approach toward Ted. The things Karen had to do first is not hiring people for Taiwanese market development but studying Taiwanese culture to know more about her target customers’ characteristics. But she has not studied about her new potential customers but let Ted do everything instead of her.
This is the root problem.
More problems continued to occur because of her ignorance toward Chinese (Taiwanese; hereinafter I will use ‘Chinese’ to broaden its cultural meaning) culture. Since she has no knowledge toward Chinese culture, she cannot control Ted as a decision maker over him. Ted can do almost whatever he wants, and Karen’s control over him does not work because it is inappropriate. The problem elaborated more severe when she had a meeting with her first Chinese customer. Although she thought Ted had a problem handling the customers’ asset, but the customer thought Ted did well.
She might want to explain something to her customer, but she couldn’t because she can’t speak Chinese.
Ted is still a key person for this business, and the situation will not be changed unless there are other people in her branch who can speak Chinese (Cantonese in detail). This must be the main reason why Karen lost her control toward Ted. It would be the best if she tried to learn Chinese and reached to a certain level to communicate basic things with her customer directly. But she didn’t try even to know Chinese cultural relationship, which is guan-xi (?? ).
Because of this, she can’t fully use a precious human capital, which is Ted. 3) Do you agree with what was done in the case regarding the problem? Why or why not? The problem is still open so she has the final opportunity.
Of course, Karen have done really well except her attitude toward Chinese business. She is energetic, analytic, digital, and fast. She prefers to manage her people by direct contact and by coaching. But unfortunately, Ted has completely different character. He is rather slow, analogue, patient, and calm. He doesn’t want to share his work progress because it is hard to convert the relationship to numerable result.
Moreover, she has tried to manage the organization in hierarchy culture. So she always control and counsel her employees, but in fact Chinese organizational culture is more likely to be a clan culture. Based on this, I think that the office issue is just a catalyst to bring those conflicts behind to the surface. Also Ted did something wrong in organizational point of view. Anyway he didn’t follow the rule of the company in some ways.
Although Chinese culture is completely different from Americanized company culture, as a FC of Merrill Lynch, he should understand the company’s culture and rule.
He should participate in organizational socialization, too. And Karen should do this especially for Ted, so that he can on board safely. 4) If you were the person in the case, what would you do? Why? If I were Karen, I would give him an office. But, it should be conditional. Above all, Ted is now in an organization where he should follow.
So Karen should not make an exceptional and unfair case. However, at the same time, Ted’s request may be reasonable if we consider Chinese culture. Generally, Chinese people consider very much about their pride and honor; they think that they’d rather die than lose face in front of everybody.
In addition, they are very glad if they are treated ‘specially’. The office can be a good help to treat potential Chinese customers. Thus, Karen can provide an office which should be named as “Taiwanese Business Task Force Office” or something similar.
Then it cannot be his own office because it is officially allocated to “Taiwanese Biz T/F”. In addition, she can terminate the task force if there are no new customers within a certain period, means that she can regain the control over him using a good weapon like ‘office’. In this way also Ted can save his face.
If she fails to solve this problem, employees who come from different cultural backgrounds other than that of her will have a glass ceiling, and eventually she will lose her valuable ‘global’ customers. But anyway, this suggestion should be the final one. If Ted doesn’t accept this offer, she has no choice but to fire him to maintain sustainability.
Kreitner / Kinicki, Organizational Behavior, Mcgraw-Hill, 9th Edition, p. 18 [ 3 ]. Ibid. p. 14 [ 4 ]. Ibid.
, p. 71~73 [ 5 ]. Ibid. p. 79 [ 6 ]. Ibid.
p. 81 [ 7 ]. Ibid. p. 42 [ 8 ].
Ibid. p. 66