300 words

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ead 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.

SAGE Business Cases – Growing Managers_ Moving from Team Member to Team Leader.pdfDownload SAGE Business Cases – Growing Managers_ Moving from Team Member to Team Leader.pdf

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)?

Submission Instructions:

  • Your initial post should be 250-350 words in length, with justifications based on properly cited (current APA) journal references. 

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

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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 material

More information >

In This Case

Find In This Case

Case PDF

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on SAGE
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Customer Focus at

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“We Report to the

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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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walked out the door with T.J., she heard Torres saying something

terse to Vega in Spanish. Vega replied in an equally curt tone.

Richardson felt the tension in the air as she walked out of the room.

Getting to Know the Team

It took longer than an afternoon for Richardson to meet with each

member of her team. Due to her own phone meetings with personnel

and a mountain of paperwork (“Why didn’t anyone tell me I would

spend so much time on paperwork?” she thought), Richardson had to

settle for meeting with everyone over the first week.

Alex Hoffman

During her meeting with Hoffman, Richardson felt a continuation of

the dismissive attitude she had noticed on Monday. Regarding his

sales, if she read him right, Hoffman loved the annual and perennial

color business but had no interest in selling cut flowers. In frustration,

he told Richardson, “So you’re asking me to call on every little mom-

and-pop florist shop to sell them, what, a couple thousand a month in

stems? You’ve got to be kidding! Why don’t you just let me deal with

the real customers?”

Gregorio Torres

Richardson’s meeting with Torres was no more successful, but for

different reasons. Torres seemed uninterested in discussing his sales

performance, but he was enthusiastic about sharing his ideas for a

new website to manage customer service, especially for the small

florist shops ColorTech was targeting with the new cut-flower

business. Richardson had to admit that Torres had some creative

ideas for servicing scattered, low-volume florists that might be

customers someday, but she needed him to be making sales now.

When asked why he felt his sales numbers were so low, he shrugged.

“I’m just not a hard-sell kind of guy,” he answered. “I keep getting in

trouble with the greenhouses for the orders I’m taking. They are so

rigid in there. I keep getting caught between customers who are trying

to meet demand and that archaic greenhouse operation that can

change course only with three months’ advance notice!”

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

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Nick Ruiz

From the moment Ruiz met Richardson, he wanted her to know he

would do whatever it took to get into a sales position. His attitude

proved refreshing to Richardson after her discussions with Hoffman

and Torres. Ruiz knew a lot about the product from his conversations

with customers. In addition, being on site with the Phoenix

greenhouses gave him first-hand knowledge about the operation that

account reps in other locations could never match. During breaks he

often could be found in the greenhouses, following workers around

and asking them about their jobs. Before the end of their short

meeting, Ruiz presented Richardson with his resume and a letter

explaining why he would be a great fit for sales. Richardson left the

meeting with a desire to tap into this young man’s energy and drive.

Chelsea Peterson

Peterson, by contrast, was openly hostile to her new boss.

Richardson tried to keep her composure but finally had to be quite

direct. “Look, I’m not sure what’s going on,” she said. “We only just

met, so why are you so upset with me?” Through clenched teeth,

Peterson answered, “I know you’ve been talking to Nick about

promoting him to account rep. I’ve been here six months longer than

him.” “I didn’t know you were interested in a sales position,”

Richardson replied, trying to sound calm. “I didn’t know there was an

opening!” Peterson exclaimed. “A position isn’t open right now, but if

you’re interested, why don’t you put together your resume, and you

can be considered should something come up,” Richardson

responded, trying to defuse the situation. “I would think you of all

people would want to give this opportunity to another woman,”

retorted Peterson. And with that, the meeting was over.

Sarah Vega

It took Richardson a few days to pin down Vega for a meeting.

Richardson could not help thinking of a butterfly whenever Vega came

into a room. She arrived late and flitted about before sitting down, only

to begin fidgeting again after a few minutes. Vega’s approach to her

job seemed equally scattered. Her messages piled up at the reception

desk. Her product knowledge was deep in some places and almost

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

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nonexistent in others, and she seemed more interested in the text

messages that were constantly coming in to her phone than in the

career advice Richardson was trying to deliver.

By Friday, Richardson was weary and her enthusiasm had waned a

bit. So far, she had seen more challenges than positives in her sales

team. She made a few notes on each person and added them to her

files (see Table 2).

Table 2: Phoenix Sales Team—Additional Information

Alex Hoffman

Account

Representative

Likes color industry, unclear about ColorTech (or

me)

Go-getter, top seller, driven by commissions

Resistant to selling new stem products

Gregorio

Torres

Account

Representative

Seems to like the company, but not closing sales

Ideas about customer service website

Understands products and customer service, but

does he understand greenhousing?

Sarah Vega

Account

Representative

Unfocused, distracted by events outside of work?

Uneven sales performance, often late or absent

May need training

Chelsea

Peterson

Store

Merchandiser

Negative interactions are the norm

Interested in sales position when open, but no

experience, skills

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

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Nick Ruiz

Store

Merchandiser

Enthusiastic, knowledgeable

Ready for sales position when open (see resume in

file)

Knows greenhousing from the ground up

The deadline for the quarterly sales report, April 15, was Monday, and

she still did not know where to get many of the numbers, even though

she had the last report as a reference. It looked as if her plans to bike

and hike over the weekend would have to take a back seat.

Problems Emerge

Sales Report

The quarterly sales report was an exercise in frustration. Richardson

spent hours working on it over the weekend but finally had to give up

because some of the numbers on the previous report made no sense.

She faxed what she had to Campbell first thing Monday morning. The

phone rang almost immediately. Without even saying “Good morning,”

Campbell started in. “You’re using last quarter’s report as a reference?

Do you know why your predecessor left? He was fired for falsifying his

reports!” Richardson wondered why that bit of news had not been

shared with her before she had been assigned to do the report or

even had accepted the job. Rather than challenge Campbell,

however, she apologized. “I’m sorry, I had no idea,” she said. “I can

still work on this. The deadline’s not until five o’clock.” Campbell

replied, “Never mind. I’ll do it myself.” And then with a little impatience

in her voice, she added, “You should start thinking about your monthly

report, which is due in three weeks.” Richardson started to ask if they

could review it together before the May 6 deadline but Campbell cut

her off, saying, “I’ll e-mail the form and you can start getting

acquainted with it now.”

Greenhouse Woes

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In late April, a fungus infected one of the greenhouses in the

Colombia cut-flower facility, resulting in the need to destroy the stock

inside it, disinfect it, and start over. The result would be weeks of

delay in orders to new customers, most of them small florists.

Richardson’s sales team could not afford to lose these hard-won new

accounts, so she looked for help in filling the affected orders; her

team might have to absorb the added cost of placing rush orders, but

heroic efforts could save the accounts. Richardson’s hopes rose when

she heard the Nogales manager had connections with local cut-flower

providers in Mexico, but those hopes were soon dashed when she

was told the export paperwork alone would take weeks, and even that

was possible only with personal attention the manager did not have

time to give. For Richardson, the most frustrating part of the problem

was that the delivery date was still a few weeks in the future; it was as

if she were watching an automobile accident in slow motion and could

do nothing to stop it. Unable to think of a viable alternative,

Richardson made the difficult phone calls to her team’s new

customers and attempted to make good by offering discounts on

future orders.

HR Challenges

When she had a moment to spare, Richardson tried to work with her

team members. But Hoffman almost never came into the office and

never answered his phone, so Richardson had to contact him by

sending e-mails and leaving voicemail messages. When he learned

about the fungus problem in Colombia, he seemed almost smug and

his tone of voice seemed to say, “I told you so!” The Colombia fiasco

seemed to have deflated Torres more than ever, and Richardson

could not find a way to motivate him.

A call from personnel informed Richardson that Vega was missing a

day of work almost every week for some reason—a dentist

appointment, a sick day, and so on. Richardson had learned that

Vega lived with her extended family just outside of Phoenix, and she

suspected Vega might be staying home to help care for her cousin’s

baby. Richardson did not think that qualified as family leave, but she

made a note to confirm it with personnel.

Surprise Customer Visit

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Just when Richardson thought she could not manage one more

challenge, a regional buyer for Home Depot made a surprise site visit

to the greenhouse. Everything was fine until he noticed that the

product was being put in the wrong pots—each big-box customer

received plants in plastic pots that showed its unique bar codes for

price scanning and inventory management. This mistake would mean

the team would be charged for emergency repotting costs as well as

discounts offered as compensation for delayed delivery if they did not

act quickly.

Richardson called on her team to show up at the greenhouse the next

Saturday morning to help repot plants. She thought it would be a team

builder, but it turned into another failure. Torres and Ruiz arrived early,

ready to work. Vega, as usual, was late and came dressed in a

business suit. Hoffman and Peterson never showed up. Richardson’s

mood darkened as Vega, Torres, and Ruiz fell into an easy Spanish

banter with the greenhouse employees. Despite her efforts with the

language tapes, she could not understand a word. Her team members

seemed to be bonding with each other, anyway. Richardson smiled

ruefully; she never imagined that being promoted to sales manager

would result in her being up to her elbows in dirt on a Saturday.

Richardson heard the phone ringing from the hallway as she made

her way back to her office at three o’clock that afternoon. When she

answered, she heard Campbell say, “Oh, you’re there. I was going to

leave you a message to remind you that you need to get your monthly

report in on Monday. And don’t forget, you need to submit your team’s

monthly expense reports on Monday, too.” More paperwork. Staring at

the dirt under her fingernails, Richardson took a deep breath.

“Monday. Right,” was all she had the energy to say. “Is everything all

right?” Campbell asked. “Fine. Everything’s fine,” said Richardson in

the most professional tone she could muster.

Events Lead to a Crisis

Sales Take a Hit

Sales results were down for the rest of May and June, in part because

Colombia had struggled to get the greenhouse fungus under control

and also because the big-box stores seemed to be heaping more and

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more demands on all growers, ColorTech included. Richardson was

working twelve-hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week.

She felt most of her time was spent babysitting her team: Hoffman’s

sales continued to be strong, but he would not share information if

Richardson did not specifically ask for it; Torres continued to whine

about his web-based customer service project while his sales

numbers slid; Vega had a great May, but her June sales were down

50 percent; Ruiz was starting to test Richardson’s patience with his

perky inquiries about a sales position; and Peterson mostly pouted.

Richardson’s team hated paperwork as much as she did, so she

asked Torres to do some of his colleagues’ reports for them in order to

meet their deadlines.

Campbell Visit Part 1: A Cryptic Message

Campbell made a visit to the Phoenix office in early June, which

Richardson suspected was to make sure the monthly sales report was

going to be done on time. They sat down together to review the

report, and Campbell corrected some of Richardson’s mistakes. It was

an uneventful meeting, and when it was over Campbell left

Richardson with the advice: “Keep your eyes on the prize.”

New Customer

At the end of June, Richardson closed a big client. She had met the

regional buyer for Lowe’s during a trip to Chicago, where she learned

Lowe’s was interested in a new southwestern supplier for annuals and

perennials. She arranged a meeting in Phoenix and closed the deal

after Lowe’s had a tour of the greenhouses. She was also now

working with a large grocery chain to switch its cut-flower business to

ColorTech. Richardson asked Torres to meet with her and the buyer.

After that meeting, Torres was more energized than she had ever

seen him; he was full of ideas for servicing this demanding, detail-

oriented type of customer.

Campbell Visit Part 2: Crisis

When she visited again in early July, Campbell did not even mention

the new Lowe’s and grocery chain customers. After reviewing the

monthly sales revenues and expenses, Campbell asked Richardson

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what she was doing to address performance issues with her team, as

sales figures were below last year’s. After listening to Richardson’s

explanations about the Colombia greenhouse problems and the big

boxes’ increasingly idiosyncratic demands, Campbell pushed her

chair back and asked, “Is there something you need to tell me about

Chelsea Peterson?” Before Richardson could figure out why she was

being asked about the store merchandiser, Campbell shared that she

had received a call from ColorTech legal the previous day informing

her that someone claiming to be Chelsea Peterson’s attorney had

called to ask about ColorTech’s gender diversity record.

Richardson was shocked. A couple of weeks ago, Peterson had

finally submitted a resume, but she had failed to include a cover letter.

More important, she lacked the experience and enthusiasm for a

sales position, and she had continued to be just barely civil to

Richardson. And with sales down, there was no chance of adding an

account rep. Richardson had explained to Peterson why she was not

ready for a sales position and suggested some ColorTech training

courses Peterson could take to prepare herself. Peterson had left the

meeting angry and had not raised the topic since. Now it seemed she

had hired an attorney—because she was denied a position that did

not even exist.

Conclusion

After Campbell left that afternoon, Richardson sat in stunned silence.

She thought back to her naïve dreams of Friday pizza lunches and ice

cream cart celebrations. Not only was there no money in her budget

for parties, her team had not earned those kinds of rewards—nor had

even acted like a team. She had had such high hopes for making a

difference in Phoenix. “What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with

me?” Richardson thought. “I wonder if I could go back to Chicago.

Maybe my old boss would take me back.” She heaved a big sigh and

asked herself, “What do I do now?”

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases
primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not
meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles.
Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind.

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This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within
your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or
used for other commercial purposes.

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