New Leader on the Block Read the case (Links to an external site.)about the recently promoted Melissa Richardson. This is a common situations individuals

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 Read the case  (Links to an external site.)about the recently promoted Melissa Richardson. This is a common situations individuals find themselves in as they move into management as they often have insufficient experience, training, and support. 

Answer the following questions: 

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue that Melissa needs to handle in order to be successful in her new position?
  • What would you do if you were Melissa (other than go back to your old job)?

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  • Please use current APA citations and at least (2) references.

6/25/2018 SAGE Business Cases – Growing Managers: Moving from Team Member to Team Leader

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(/) Browse Products Search all SAGE Knowledge

Advanced (/search)LOGIN: Profile Saint Thomas Univers…

Growing Managers: Moving from
Team Member to Team Leader

Brenda Ellington-Booth & Karen L. Cates

CASE TEACHING NOTES AUTHOR(S)

Abstract

This case describes a newly promoted middle manager in a global,
multi-cultural organization who is challenged by a number of factors in
the workplace which are impacting her and her team’s ability to
perform to the expectations of her regional manager. While it would
be easy to blame the new manager, deeper analysis in fact reveals

business cases (/cases)

CASES

Online Pub. Date: March 06, 2016

Original Pub. Date: 2012

Subject: Organizational Behavior, Business &
Management Skills, Strategic Decision-Making

Level: Intermediate

Type: Direct case (/Search/Results/?
CaseType=Direct+case&searchNoBack=true)

Length: 5241 words

Copyright: © 2012 Kellogg School of Management at
Northwestern University

Contains supplementary materialZ

More information >

In This Case

Find In This Case

Case PDF

Similar content
on SAGE
Knowledge

Coaching and

Mentoring for

Business

(/9781473921566)

Customer Focus at

Neiman Marcus:

“We Report to the

Client”

(/9781473991453)

Keywords

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that many forces are at work here in addition to her inexperience
including communication of strategy and performance objectives,
mismanaged team members, cultural inconsistencies, and a lack of
leadership direction and/or skill from the very top to her supervising
manager.

Case

Melissa Richardson sat stunned in her office in Phoenix, Arizona,

after a disastrous early July meeting with her boss, Beth Campbell. In

March, Richardson had been the top Chicago salesperson and a

high-potential candidate for management at ColorTech Greenhouses,

Inc., a premium grower and distributor of annual and perennial

flowers.

Richardson remembered the call she had made to her mother, who

still lived in her childhood home on the north side of Chicago. “Mom, I

just got off the phone with the southwest regional sales manager in

Los Angeles,” she had said. “They want me for the sales manager

spot in Phoenix!” Richardson had been looking for an opportunity to

move up at ColorTech, and her boss had recommended her for the

promotion when the position opened. Thirty-two years old and single,

Richardson had been excited to show her new team how to break into

the top sales ranks the way she had done.

But after only a few short months, she had failed to improve her

team’s performance and felt like a liability on her regional manager’s

watch list. Richardson wondered how things had gone so wrong so

quickly and what she could do to fix them.

About ColorTech Greenhouses, Inc.

ColorTech was a privately held supplier of annual and perennial

flowers to big-box stores (large, no-frills, warehouse-like retail stores)

such as Home Depot and Walmart. Within the color industry (the term

used to describe growers of the colorful, flowering bedding plants

used to create outdoor, in-ground floral displays), ColorTech was well

known for its patented hybrid plants and high-tech automated

greenhouse operations located primarily in southern North America.

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Along with the rest of the industry, the company was facing increased

price competition and a downward trend in sales caused by a

saturated market and a shift away from water- and maintenance-

intensive home and garden improvements. ColorTech in particular

was exposed to aggressive demands for lower prices and costly

customization from the big-box stores.

Eager to grow revenue, ColorTech had recently purchased a

Colombian company specializing in cut flowers as part of its growth

strategy to become a strong niche supplier to grocery store chains

and independent florists that sold exotic stems in their arrangements.

ColorTech was also evaluating the acquisition of an Ecuadorian

concern as a way to enter the long-stemmed rose segment of the cut-

flower market.

ColorTech operated its main U.S. greenhouses in Phoenix, Arizona;

San Diego, California; and Columbia, South Carolina. As a

supplement to its own operations, ColorTech leased greenhouse

space in a few other American cities to handle special orders

(including plants that were too delicate to ship long distances) and

negotiated distributor agreements with other greenhouses in some

northern states that enabled it to offer region-specific and seasonal

plants. With a large operation in Nogales, Mexico, its Colombian

acquisition, and plans to expand into Ecuador, ColorTech was quickly

becoming the largest and most international grower in the Western

Hemisphere.

The Phoenix Office

Phoenix was not only the location of ColorTech’s corporate

headquarters; it was the site of the founders’ first greenhouse and,

quite literally, was the heart of the company. State-of-the-art in their

day, the Phoenix greenhouses still boasted the highest production

levels in the company. Thirteen employees managed the automated

assembly line-like process that produced geraniums, pansies, and

petunias by moving pots on tracks through the greenhouses, starting

with seeds and progressing through various stages of fertilizing,

watering, potting, and labeling for customers. The shipping area was

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an energizing riot of flowering color and shouted instructions in

Spanish as thousands of color products were packed and shipped to

ColorTech customers around the United States.

The six sales staff and the greenhouse administrative workers sat in

the company’s original offices, which were attached to one of the

original greenhouses. Located onsite but detached from the

greenhouses, the newer corporate offices had a more formal

atmosphere and dress code. Spanish was the default language in the

greenhouses due to the high concentration of laborers with ancestry

in Mexico and Central America, but during meetings in the corporate

offices everyone spoke English, even executives from the Colombia

and Mexico operations. In the sales office, English was spoken

publicly, but most people spoke Spanish to communicate one-on-one.

Many of the greenhouse workers cooked their lunches on a portable

grill that, at the direction of management, was kept on the far side of

the building complex and out of sight of the parking lots. Sales staff

often shared these outdoor lunches with the greenhouse workers, but

corporate staff did not.

Getting There

As she prepared to leave Chicago, Richardson juggled her sales

manager training courses with packing and saying goodbye to long-

time clients in the Chicago area. The latter was no small task, as over

the past eight years Richardson had built a substantial client base that

had earned her frequent sales awards. In the middle of a wet April

snow shower, however, she hugged her mother goodbye and drove

toward the interstate that would take her west to Arizona.

During the long drive, Richardson had ample time to reflect on the

content discussed in her management training courses. As a

salesperson, Richardson had not been exposed to many of the

management issues, paperwork, and processes covered in the

classes. Legal issues related to human resources had been stressed

repeatedly, but Richardson had little confidence in her understanding

of the risks and requirements. Fortunately, every manager-in-training

had received a business card from the vice president of human

resources with the instruction, “When in doubt, give us a shout.”

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More frustrating, Richardson felt the courses about leading teams and

troubleshooting problems had been of little benefit. She could see that

senior managers were trying to help her by sharing stories about their

own experiences, but unless her problems were exactly the same,

Richardson was not sure how she could apply what they had told her.

She had been reading leadership books on her own, however, and

had started to develop her vision and ways to share it with her team.

She especially enjoyed books that listed hundreds of ideas for

motivating teams; she could already picture the Friday afternoon

pizza lunches and ice cream cart celebrations she would sponsor

when they exceeded their quarterly sales goals.

Based on some conversations she had had with other Phoenix staff in

her courses, Richardson decided to brush up on her high school

Spanish by listening to Spanish language tapes during her drive from

Chicago to Phoenix. It also helped pass the time on the long trip. After

three days on the road, Richardson pulled into Phoenix on a sunny

80-degree Friday afternoon. She could not wait for Monday.

A First Look

Literally, Richardson could not wait for Monday. After she checked in

with her landlady, Richardson headed directly to the office. She knew

Friday was casual day at ColorTech, so her jeans would fit right in.

She found the office manager, who showed Richardson her office,

directed her to the supply closet, gave her a set of keys, and wished

her good luck. Richardson eased into her chair and with a kick of her

feet spun herself around, smiling as she rotated a full 360 degrees.

Then she left a voicemail message with Beth Campbell, her regional

sales manager. Campbell apparently had already left her Los Angeles

office for the weekend. Richardson frowned. She had met Campbell

only once during her interview in Chicago, and she had hoped to

schedule some one-on-one time to get a better feel for Campbell’s

management style and expectations.

Richardson took stock of her office and the supplies she would need,

made a few notes, and then began to head out the door to start

unpacking boxes in her apartment. She would return early on

Saturday so that everything would be in order when she officially

started on Monday morning.

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As she was leaving the office, Richardson took a quick tour of the

area where her salespeople worked. It was only four o’clock on a

Friday afternoon, but no one was there. Except for the receptionist,

the office manager, and a few other administrative staff, the floor was

empty. Where was everyone? In Chicago, Richardson worked six

days a week and was on call Sundays. Customers could depend on

her to answer her mobile phone anytime and anywhere. She

wondered what kind of relationship her absent sales team could

possibly have with customers and immediately understood why

hardheaded bosses held sales team meetings on Friday afternoons.

Clearly, this team needed to get into shape.

Sales Team

Richardson spent Saturday arranging the furniture in her office and

the items on her desk. She set up folders for each of her team

members, which included three account representatives and two store

merchandisers. ColorTech store merchandisers supported the

account reps for the big-box stores by working closely with customers

to ensure that merchandise arrived undamaged, replacement product

was ordered when there was damage, and unsold product was

shipped back to the greenhouses for possible redistribution or

recycling. Store merchandisers often were promoted to become

account representatives.

From her predecessor’s notes, Richardson assembled some basic

information on her team (see Table 1).

Table 1: Phoenix Sales Team

Alex Hoffman

Account

Representative

Age: 32

Length of service: 8 years

Sales this year: $2.11 MM

Sales last year: $1.95 MM

Sales previous year: $1.85 MM

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Gregorio Torres

Account

Representative

Age: 36

Length of service: 12 years

Sales this year: $850K

Sales last year: $950K

Sales previous year: $1.05 MM

Sarah Vega

Account

Representative

Age: 26

Length of service: 3 years

Sales this year: $950K

Sales last year: $1.10 MM

Sales previous year: $900K

Chelsea Peterson

Store Merchandiser

Age: 23

Length of service: 2 years

Nick Ruiz

Store Merchandiser

Age: 22

Length of service: 1 year

Seeking promotion to account

representative

Hoffman was the top salesperson in the company, and he had earned

every award and received every perk ColorTech offered. Richardson

was not sure how he achieved his sales numbers; his customers had

limits on how much product they could purchase in a given season.

She figured he must be making phone sales outside his area,

something Richardson did to boost her own numbers in Chicago. If

that were the case, she had to give him credit for taking that kind of

initiative.

Richardson had no information about Torres except that his sales

numbers were low for his tenure with the company and lower this year

than last. She made a note to discuss this with him.

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Vega was new to sales and had only been with ColorTech for three

years. Her numbers were sporadic from month to month and year to

year. Richardson was unsure if she just needed more time to build her

client base or if something else was going on. Richardson made

another note. Maybe she could give Torres and Vega some Friday

afternoon lessons. She smiled at that, remembering the empty office

yesterday afternoon.

The sales team was supported by two store merchandisers, Nick Ruiz

and Chelsea Peterson. Both appeared to have arrived fresh out of

college. Ruiz had apparently expressed an interest in joining the sales

team. Richardson liked that kind of initiative and decided she would

talk to him to find out more; if he had the right stuff, she would keep

him in mind.

First Meeting

Late Sunday night Richardson got a call from her regional manager,

Campbell, who said she would be unable make it to Phoenix in the

morning and asked if Richardson could introduce herself to her new

team. Campbell also said she would e-mail the first quarter sales

report to Richardson for her to complete. The report had to be

submitted by April 15—in eight days. Although this was not exactly

welcome news, Richardson figured she may as well learn how to do

the report now and entered the due date into her calendar.

Richardson arrived at the office on Monday morning before anyone

else. She wanted to greet her team members individually as they

came in rather than show up after some had already settled in at their

desks. The first arrival, a neatly dressed man with shoulder-length

black hair and a dazzling smile, had a tray of cookies in one arm, a

bakery box in the other, and a messenger bag slung over his

shoulder. Richardson offered to help him with the door, but before she

could introduce herself, he gave her a big smile and said, “You must

be Melissa! I’m Gregorio. Hola! Welcome to the Phoenix office. Here,

take this box. It’s for you.” Flustered by the unexpected gesture,

Richardson took the box and thanked him.

As Torres hurried into the kitchen with the cookies, a man and woman

walked in the door. Box in hand, Richardson greeted them. “Hi, I’m

Melissa. And you must be…?” “Alex. Alex Hoffman,” said the young

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man abruptly, with barely a smile. “And this is Chelsea.” “Hi!” said the

young woman as they hurried past her to the kitchen. Ruiz arrived a

few minutes later and punched in just before 9:00 a.m. The only one

missing was Vega.

Wanting to establish some order the office seemed to lack,

Richardson popped her head into the kitchen where the team

members had congregated and announced a meeting in the

conference room at 9:15 a.m. so she could get acquainted with them.

At 9:15, Vega still had not arrived at the office. Torres, Ruiz, and

Peterson were sitting in the big leather chairs around the conference

table and Hoffman was nowhere to be seen. After a fruitless scan of

the floor, Richardson returned to the conference room to start the

meeting. “I said 9:15,” she thought, “so we’re starting at 9:15.”

Richardson delivered the short speech she had prepared. She began

by explaining her background with ColorTech and then said she had

some ideas for improving sales in Phoenix and looked forward to

learning what motivated each of them. She ended by sharing her goal

to make Phoenix the number one sales office. Just as Richardson

finished her speech, Hoffman barged into the room, mobile phone in

hand, and noisily took the conference chair closest to the door.

Richardson stood with her mouth slightly open as he continued texting

on his phone. At that moment, a woman who must have been Vega

rushed into the room, obviously having run from the parking lot. “Are

we having a meeting? Sorry I’m late, but the traffic was killer. What did

I miss?” She sat down next to Hoffman, looked up, smiled, and said,

“Oh! You must be Melissa!”

Before Richardson could respond, a young man in coveralls knocked

on the open conference room door. “Melissa Richardson? I’m T.J., the

greenhouse manager. Ms. Campbell called me this morning and told

me to give you a tour of the operations.”

Richardson sighed. The interruption only added to her feeling that this

meeting had been a weak introduction to her team, but a part of her

welcomed the excuse to disappear. Before she left she told the team

she would work her way across the floor later in the day to find out

more about their work and their expectations from her as the new

sales manager. Richardson thanked them for their time, and as she

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6/25/2018 SAGE Business Cases – Growing

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