Fred Maiorino is one of the most interesting cases to read about in the area of business. With a myriad of issues and problems that companies face, it stands to reason that they would involve themselves in a discrimination lawsuit or rather open themselves up for one. A sales representative, Fred Maiorino had worked for Schering-Plough for 35 years, becoming known as a hard-working individual who had the potential for immense success. The case presents several interesting facts that contend that Schering-Plough did encourage Fred to become more consistent in his work but created particular standards that Fred could not necessarily keep up with despite compliance. As such, there is reason to believe that had both Jim Reed and Schering-Plough failed Fred in several different areas. Employee motivation is one of the largest factors that should be driving businesses. It perhaps is the chief problem underlying a businesses' productivity and in turn, success.
The first issue pertaining to the case that requires analysis is the fact that at the onset of Fred's career at Schering-Plough, he had made an "effective [presentation] and knew what he was talking about" (Case Study, p.215). Both Barsness et al. (2005) and Shore et al. (2009) identify that companies need a diverse workforce and because of this, hiring effective workers is the most notable requirement that should be looked at in the hiring process (2005; 2009). Maiorino had the understanding and specialty in learning about Schering's products and had an uncanny grasp of dealing with people. Despite this, Maiorino could not proverbially turn it around. This led the manager, Jim Reed, to step in and try and assist Fred with motivational tactics that would subsequently produce better sales results.
Zhang & Bartol (2010) describe the need for companies to assess workforce performance and come up with empowering ways to engage their employees to produce the results they seek. Managers should have an empowering agenda to help employee work outcomes. Because motivation is a psychological dynamic, the manager must come up with a variety of ways to encourage employees to do better. This means utilizing several different theories to exert influence over the workforce (p.107-108). Research from George & Zhou (2001) and George & Zhou (2007) speaks to the need for managers to be conscientious about how they approach their staff when trying to motivate them to be productive and effective in their work.
It appears that much of the assistance that Reed provided Fred came in the form of written encouragement as well as helping Fred "improve his sales pitches, [participating] in sales calls with him and suggesting realistic goals for [Fred] on a quarterly, product-by-product basis" (Case Study, p.241). Based on this evidence, Schering-Plough at this point had committed to assisting and motivating Fred to become more efficient in his workload as a sales representative. Despite the quality checks that Reed put in place for Fred, Fred objected wholeheartedly to one in particular - the observation of his residence.
There are two issues with this particular quality check - first, it is an invasion of privacy. While it states in the case that a manager "may station [themselves] in the general vicinity of a representative's residence to make sure that the representative leaves home within normal working hours and then follow the representative on territory to make sure that the representative actually calls on physicians and accounts" (p.243-244) that is an invasion of privacy and not a valid motivational tactic. Stinglhamber & Vandenberghe (2003), Kristof-Brown et al. (2005) and Johnson et al. (2010) all denote the need for companies to clarify their motivational practices and give attention to both the identity of the employee and the values that the particular business upholds. While regulatory standards and processes are feasible and institute a level of commitment from management in encouraging employees, certain techniques can serve the opposite purpose. Johnson et al. (2010) go further in relaying that employees often become less committed and dedicated to a job when there is a stringent regulatory focus. An individual's self-determined nature becomes less favorable in the area of objective attainment and achievement as a result (p.227). It can be argued that this is what occurred with Maiorino because the company was able to both document and detect how effective Fred was at his job by in essence having him followed. There were discrepancies between what Fred stated he had done while on the job versus what Schering-Plough had observed. So what started as a motivational tactic on behalf of Schering-Plough to help Fred better manage the accounts he had ended up becoming a privacy issue and problem in terms of the company's respect for Fred.
The second issue with the quality check is it adds bias to a situation where an employee's behavior or lack thereof is being observed under a microscope. Heslin et al. (2005) reason that performance appraisals should be based on the insight of work ethic and performance. Judgment and bias should be left out of the appraisal process as much as possible. Moreover, a person's traits in their work effort do not necessarily put forth the idea that their work will be affected and in effect, put an organization's productivity in jeopardy (2005). Thus, this is why it can be said that Schering-Plough overstepped their boundaries in trying to motivate Fred to work more effectively. His performance appraisal became more about his traits as opposed to the fulfillment of the tasks at hand.
Despite Fred's validation that he had implemented many of the company's suggestions, they ultimately fired him. Two critical aspects of this were the fact of how he was fired and that he was replaced with a representative who was 24 years of age shortly after. Regarding the termination, Fred was dismissed from his job as a sales representative on the basis that he was underperforming and many other reasons pertaining to breach of good faith. From Maiorino's side of the situation, Schering-Plough had wrongfully terminated him and also caused him significant embarrassment and distress. There is reason to believe based on the facts in the case that while Fred was allowed to perform better, that Schering-Plough wanted a younger employee and sought to do everything they could to get him out of there.
The second aspect of this is the age discrimination claim. Shah & Kleiner (2005) document that age discrimination is quite common despite attitudes that it does not exist. Companies and businesses routinely look for ways to exaggerate the perceived weaknesses of older workers to discredit them and hire younger ones. Removing this form of discrimination emphatically lies in the managerial practices at the particular company. This means examining the work ethics and reliability factors of how companies enforce their policies and how the policies are being executed. Additionally, the government should play a more prominent role in punishing companies who prove to discriminate based on age (p.15-20). Schering-Plough was found to be guilty in age discrimination per the case elements. Based on age discrimination alone, Schering-Plough did not have an opportunity to defend themselves in their motivational tactics to increase Fred's productivity because they had violated certain aspects of employee-employer relationships. In essence, they overstepped their boundaries in trying to increase Fred's motivation to work more productive in his position as a sales representative.
It is possible that had Schering-Plough approached the situation better than they did, that perhaps Fred would still be working for the company – and would be performing in alliance with their standards. Several aspects of the entire case perhaps would have made a notable difference in the outcome. The following plan of recommendation will be presented as to what Schering-Plough should have done and what they can do to prevent another situation like this in the future.
Fisher & Yuan (1998) recommend that companies should first recognize specific characteristics of what they need in a workforce. This means highlighting the pros and cons of a particular set of employees in each department to gauge the implications of certain motivational practices they hope to integrate (p.517). It is unclear if Schering-Plough thoroughly examined the potential effects of their motivational factors associated with Fred. The following is a set of parameters that Schering-Plough could have executed to evoke a better work dynamic for Fred.
1) Having tactful discipline and being sympathetic to Fred given the number of years he had worked for their company.
2) Allowing him to come up with his own set of what he could do to perform better as a sales representative.
3) Adding an incentive to Fred working more productively in a short period.
4) Honing in on what worked for Fred initially and assessing why it started not working.
5) Keeping the work interesting.
Fisher & Yuan (1998) diagnose that having tactful discipline and being sympathetic to an employee's situation promotes a tactful relevance to a company's mission and vision. While companies do not have to necessarily be overly understanding, they can engender a motivational dynamic in their employee if they consider the personal plight of that individual. Also, research has speculated on individual assessment of their work performance as a measurement of better productivity. Both Schwab (1973) and Arnolds & Boshoff (2002) identify a link between incentives and motivation citing esteem has a considerable effect on personality and performance on the job. Individuals feel satisfied when they are recognized for what they have done previously as well as what they are doing in the present to uphold said performance standards (1973;2002). Williams & Anderson (1991) consider that companies need to keep work interesting to produce job satisfaction. This means having specific elements present in job responsibilities (p.601-602). For Schering-Plough, each of these outlined components should have been implemented for Maiorino. There is reason to believe that if each of these had been implemented into the motivational agenda - that Fred might have had the opportunity to not only remain a viable sales representative for the company but to excel in his duties and tasks.
Companies have an obligation to their employees in terms of motivation and satisfaction aspects. While it is true that the employee brings a significant portion of the satisfaction construct to the workplace, the onus is on companies such as Schering-Plough to bring the skills and talents out of the employee as much as possible. Schering-Plough, not only rejected this notion but sought to circumvent a long-established employee by inhibiting his ability to perform adequately to the task at hand. With the incorporation of the aforementioned plan, employees such as Maiorino can keep their jobs hopefully - and businesses like Schering-Plough do not have to undergo examination into age discrimination allegations and claims.
Given motivation is a prime factor driving organizations, evidence suggests that by keeping their staff motivated as much as possible, that they can, in turn, obtain the necessary productivity sought after. In doing so, companies can keep their employees satisfied to a certain extent and keep their reputation intact in the business world. When companies begin seeking out ways to thwart the progress of certain employees, for whatever reason, this causes considerable damage that often cannot be repaired.
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How to Motivate Fred Maiorino? (Case Study 31). Print.
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