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In a 1-2 page paper, describe Jay`s leadership style, identifying at least one leadership methodstudied over the duration of the course. Then as a comparative, share what leadership style you believe would be most effective, considering the existing team.
Senior Technician, Mike Thompson who often stood in the leadership role was a faithful employee, yet not at all satisfied with his position or income. Taking into consideration all of Mike`s dealing, answer the following:
Give an overview of the case study.
Do you believe Jay was aware of Mike`s dissatisfaction? Why/Why not?
Do you think Jay should sell the company to Mike? Why/Why not?
EM PLOYEES AND M ANAGEM ENT CONTROL
Mark A. Johnson and Dennis W. Krumwiede
This case was prepared and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. The views
represented here are those of the case author (s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
Society for Case Research. The views are based on professional judgment.
Jay Jackson, 46 year old owner of Impeller Pumps, LLC, was at his winter home in Florida,
thousands of miles away from his business. He shared with his wife some of the challenges he
involved the rest of the year. With my back
around the shop or out in the field due to these darn ailments of mine. Mike and our new office
manager are prett
all that, I get the impression that I am unwanted in my own place. Something has to change, and
Impeller Pumps is a premier provider of agricultural, industrial, municipal, and domestic (homes)
pumps which it installs and services in a small geographical area in the Mountain West. It has a
highly skilled workforce that takes great pride in doing whatever it takes to make sure customers
have water when and where they need it. It has almost 70 years of experience in the pump
system field. Impeller Pump got its name based on the physics of water pump systems. Unlike
propellers that push water back to put a boat in motion (propel), impeller pumps are stationary
and push water forward (up) through the piping system to the surface.
firm was the sale and installation of deep well pump systems. The firm had been consistently
profitable throughout the years, providing the senior Jackson and his family with a good living.
As a child, Jay used to hang around the shop, and as he grew older he was given more and more
tasks to perform. Jay became increasingly involved in the actual operations of the business while
he was in high school and worked full-time for his father during summers. When he finished
high school he decided to work full-time for the business rather than go to college.
During the 1980s, Jay was given more control over operations as his father transitioned himself
out of the business while remaining available to offer assistance. Jay and his father had made
arrangements for Jay to make regular payments over a number of years to purchase Impeller. A
few years later, Jay completed the payments to own Impeller outright.
Though his dad had Impeller legally organized as a C corporation, Jay changed the legal form of
organization to a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with himself as the sole member (owner).
Jay wanted to reduce the risk to his personal assets and avoid the double taxation required of a C
corporation. An LLC combines many of the benefits of a sole proprietorship/partnership and the
corporate forms of ownership. LLCs can have one or multiple owners, called member(s); they
provide the owner(s) limited liability while simultaneously avoiding double taxation required of
the corporation form of organization. All income goes to members, who pay income taxes on
their shares of net income. Similar to a partnership, an LLC permits its members to divide
income and tax liability as agreed upon by its members.
was well liked and respected by his customers. The company was well known by all the farmers
in the area as well as many industrial, municipal, and domestic customers for its quality of
workmanship and prompt and reliable service. Timely service was a key competitive factor in
this industry. For example, if a far
a farmer had to delay field work and could ultimately lose crops. Such an event could result in
large financial losses. Therefore, quick and reliable service, which Impeller was known for, was
could create some very large work/life balance challenges for Jay and his workers.
Jay performed many roles at Impeller. He acted as the general manager overseeing the work of
his office manager, the machinist, and the field technicians and workers. Jay also served as a
working manager in that he commonly took crews out to install well pump systems. He also ran
errands, driving back to the shop or to a pump store to get needed parts and accessories.
However, over the last year or two, he had been decreasing his involvement in the more physical
aspects of operations.
Impeller had eight employees and although the work tended to be seasonal, Jay kept his workers
on the payroll during the off months (November through February) and tried to keep them
productive. Consistent with his business mission, Jay felt it important to treat his workers well,
to maintain their loyalty, and to retain them along with their experience and skills from one
working season to next. Jay also tried to be fair to his employees and treat them with respect.
However, he could also be quite demanding at times, especially when he needed extra work and
effort to meet the needs of his customers. His goal was to provide high quality products and
services to his customers and continue to enhance the reputation and profitability of Impeller.
Jay was married and had an18 year old son and a 16 year old daughter. His son had worked at
Impeller on occasion, and Jay hoped that he would one day slowly take over and purchase
and similar to many teenagers, he went through a rebellious stage which strained his relationship
with his parents, especially Jay.
Jay, his wife, and his children enjoyed the prosperity Impeller provided them. They had a very
nice home, late model cars, plenty of toys (dirt bikes, jet skis, a recreational vehicle, and a boat),
and they owned a second home in Florida. Financially, they were doing well.
Type of Work Performed
e work was performed out in
the field. The type of work that employees performed could vary greatly, depending on the job.
Workers would work in crews of two to four persons, always including one or two skilled
technicians. Whether the work involved the installation of new systems or the service of existing
equipment, the technical aspects of the work were somewhat complicated. In addition, the work
was often very physically demanding (cutting metal pipe to remove and assembling pipe to
install pump systems), often performed during poor weather, and at times quite dangerous.
Depending on whether the job involved the removal of a damaged or inoperable system to be
repaired or junked, or the installation of a new system, the work involved the lifting, movement,
and/or lowering of heavy pump systems. The pump systems included pumps, wiring, pump
casings, and piping. Operations typically required the use of large hand held tools such as
wrenches, crowbars, and other leveraging tools. In addition, many jobs required a large boom
mounted on one of the trucks to move, lower, and raise pump systems. The pump systems
installed by Impeller operated as far down in the ground as 800 feet, and a large industrial
application could cost $100,000 or more. In recent years, the systems had been installed deeper
into the ground due to the declines in mountain snow pack and the accompanying drought-like
conditions that lowered the water table. The removal and installation operations had to be
performed very carefully and precisely to
prevent injury to a worker or the pump systems. Jay
had implemented very precise procedures with stringent safety requirements to avoid such
mishaps. When he was out on a job, he made sure the safety procedures were followed, and he
placed the responsibility on the senior technicians when they led the jobs.
Competitive M arketplace
Impeller controlled the well pump installation and service market within a 50 mile radius of its
shop. Fortunately, due to early entry of the initial owners and the great reputation the firm had
to obtain any substantial market share. A number of larger competitors that were located in a
town approximately 70 miles
but their success was limited. Nonetheless, Jay knew he could not let his guard (or quick and
quality service) down. Though Jay did not perceive much threat from other pump installation
companies, he was concerned about the possibility that one or more of the large farms might
ould be cut by as
much as 60 percent. How likely any of this might be, or how widespread it might become if it
happened at all, Jay did not know nor did he even want to guess. Nevertheless, the potential
threat occasionally crossed his mind and caused him to worry about the future profitability, and
even the viability, of Impeller.
Seasonal Nature of the Business
In the Mountain West region, the business of installing and repairing irrigation wells is very
seasonal with most of the work being conducted during late spring, summer, and early fall. As
noted, Jay did not want to lay off any of his workers during the offseason and instead, he would
keep them on with full pay and benefits, at substantial expense. Jay viewed this as an investment
and figured he would recoup the costs with a profit the following working season. During the
offseason, Jay would have his workers perform maintenance on the equipment and building,
provide upgrades to and clean the shop, take inventory of parts, or do whatever else they could
find to be done. With the exception of the last two offseasons, Jay was present to oversee work
activities at his shop.
Key Employees and Special Skills
Although Jay viewed all of his employees as valuable to the business, there were two workers
who were especially important to his business and who would be especially difficult to replace.
These were the Senior Technician, Mike Thompson, and the Office Manager, Tina Sanchez.
-hand-man and was his most senior
and knowledgeable field employee. Mike had substantial prior work-related experience when he
went to work for Jay and had been employed at Impeller for 15 years. His experience was in the
same field as that needed by Jay at Impeller. None of the other Impeller employees had direct
experience in the business, and it did not take Jay very much time to recognize the value Mike
brought to his business. Mike worked hard, was very competent, and for many years was
consistently the top producer.
Jay did not know Mike before he hired him. However, as time went on they became friends, but
that friendship had faced some challenges over the past year. Mike compared their relationship
to the point where you find yourself wondering how the hell you got to where you are. Is it
it had just become more difficult to get along with him.
Mike was quiet and reserved, but he was well-liked by his fellow fiel
customers. The only person with whom he had any difficulty was Tina. Sometimes her taskoriented, directive style bothered him. On occasion, he would complain to Jay or his fellow
workers that she was just too bossy. He also felt that Jay treated her too well compared to how
he was treated, and sometimes she acted as if she ran the place. Mike also did not like that Tina
was often the eyes and ears of Jay, telling him what went on when he was away from the shop.
Jay outsourced the accounting function of Impeller as had his father. All other office functions
were performed by the office manager Tina. She served in that capacity for many years and she
demonstrated a lot of initiative and worked effectively with little direction from Jay. He
basically left this employee alone.
Tina had a very outgoing personality and had a lot of self-confidence, and she was not afraid to
speak her mind about things. Her activities were diverse. She did the data entry, billing, payroll,
workers compensation and unemployment; dealt with vendors and customers; and along with
other office duties, developed the schedule for the field workers. This is where she often butted
heads with Mike. Jay placed a lot of confidence in her and felt very comfortable when he was
out in the field or had to be away on business or vacation. Jay felt he was fortunate to have Tina,
especially because he found the paper side of the business to be boring, much preferring to be out
in the field with the workers and customers.
Opportunities for M ike?
that doctors could not seem to cure. Jay was a regular user of a line of vitamin products and
them, which she did. After a short period of time, her symptoms
vitamin business. (A multilevel business (also called direct selling and referral marketing)
employs a business strategy where the sales force is compensated not only for sales it personally
makes but also for sales of persons it recruits to make sales. Amway is the largest direct selling
company in the world).
On a couple of occasions, Mike had mentioned to Jay that he might be ready for a career change
and the opportunity for career advancement with the multilevel business. Jay once responded by
reminding Mike how good he had it and asking him why he would even think about risking what
he had on a long shot like the multilevel business. Nonetheless, Mike was in his mid-40s and
increasingly becoming dissatisfied with his employment at Impeller. He had more than once
stated to his fellow field workers that he was doing most of the work but the only person getting
rich was Jay. Jay became aware of this as the grapevine funneled these kinds of things to him.
was Jay, not Mike, who incurred the risks associated with owning a business. Also, Mike only
had a high school diploma; it was not as if he would be lured away with some high offer to work
vitamin business and even the remote possibility that Mike might leave Impeller. At times like
these, Jay also wondered about the possibility of Mike leaving to work for one of the large farms
if they stopped outsourcing the well pump work to Impeller.
Jay tried to treat his workers with respect and dignity and believed he provided his employees
with a very generous compensation package. He admitted he could be very directive, demanding,
and sometimes a bit short with his workers, but it was for their good as well as Impellers.
Unfortunately, most workers did not perceive Jay as looking out for their best interests. For
example, Mike described Jay as an autocrat and a micromanager who kept things very close to
d he is very secretive. He can be very rude and
We have a lot of turnover, and it is easy to see why. Heck, I even quit one time because Jay
made me so angry.
way to do anything, and always gives us grief for doing things wrong. No wonder nobody wants
Failing Health and Decreasing Ability to Actively Participate
Jay had developed a very serious back problem that plagued him when he did anything physical.
Even simple tasks such as bending over caused him pain. Because of this, he was taking heavy
pain medications that he found adversely impacted his judgment and also affected his behavior.
Jay felt the medications were making him more tired, impatient, and irritable which negatively
impacted how he treated people. In addition to the physical and emotional changes, he was more
anxious, stressed, and concerned about his business and his increasing inability to be an active
Jay and his wife had vacationed many times in Flo
rida, and two years ago they purchased a
returned this winter with the expectation of spending the entire offseason
felt a lot better when he was in the warm and humid weather. In addition, not having to perform
any physical work eased his back pain and reduced his need to take large dosages of his pain
While in Florida, Jay left things in the hands of Mike and Tina and expected that he would also
have to rely on them more during the next working season due to his decreasing ability to be
It was the offseason and things were relatively slow at Impeller.
New Opportunity for Tina
notice. She had decided to try her luck in real estate. The news was devastating to Jay because
he relied on and trusted her on the business side of Impeller and he saw her as great help to Mike
in terms of scheduling and setting priorities. He tried to convince her to stay on and even offered
to give her a large pay raise, but he could not get her to change her mind. Her husband had his
own equipment business and her kids were grown and she just wanted to try something new and
thought real estate would be fun.
He believed that part of the reason
been a problem of some kind and that Tina had had enough. Later, Tina told Mike she had been
offered a pay raise to stay on. When Mike heard this, he stomped out of the office and thought to
For Jay, the timing could not have been worse. He felt more and more stressed, and his back still
time, increase the demands on Mike. Jay figured Mike would learn more about office operations,
next season as well. Jay did get some temporary help to help with some of the office duties until
a full-time replacement was found.
In no time at al
responsibilities, even on a temporary basis, nor was he necessarily capable of performing them
effectively. Although Mike was a very experienced and skilled technician, Jay questioned
whether he had the skills to perform the office business functions, especially the way the office
systems had been developed by Tina. Moreover, Mike was introverted, had a passive personality,
and liked having the flexibility to disappear from the business when he had errands to run.
Staying on top of the business side of Impeller was just not what he wanted, especially under the
current conditions. Mike felt he was underpaid and was frustrated that he was not receiving a
pay raise for taking on these extra duties. In addition, he felt that Jay had not given him the tools
to perform some of the office work effectively. Mike had no signature authority other than to
not make purchases
would tell his workers. Mike was also bothered that he had never been allowed to look over
Mike was also con
older and older. Mike believed Jay was reaping all of the benefits of ownership by paying
himself a large salary but failing to adequately reinvest in Impeller.
opportunities. He wondered if this could be the breaking point for Mike. Might he quit as well?
Fortunately, at least for now, Jay had not seen any signs that any of the large farms were moving
to internalize their pump systems work and attempting to hire Mike to do the work.
Jay was forced to return from Florida to search for a new office manager, and he hired Linda Hill
was close to impossible. Tina was irreplaceable. She had served as office manager for many
years and fully understood the nuances of the business and had developed many of her own ways
of doing things. She also had the right stuff for the job she was detail oriented, very organized,
stayed on top of things, and was great at multi-tasking. In addition, she had the ability to be firm
and demanding with workers and vendors, without being perceived as difficult and she was great
with customers. She had the knack.
While Jay was back at Impeller to hire the new office manager, he observed that his field
employees were not actively and productively working at the shop. In fact, he became angry
when he discovered that one of his workers was building furniture in the shop to sell on the side
and had some of the other workers helping him, while others worked on their personal hobbies or
played games. Jay talked to Mike about what he had observed but could not get a clear answer
Jay finally just threw up his arms in disgust, causing him great pain, and then gingerly walked
away. He did not bring the subject up with Mike again, preferring to avoid another argument
and not wanting to add to his already high level of stress. Jay returned to Florida a couple of days
later. There he told his wif
not make them work to help keep the company profitable. Mike is acting secretively and seems
The New Office M anager
Linda was a disaster. She could not figure out how to operate the systems Tina had established,
she regularly showed up late, missed too many days of work, and she was rude to some
customers and vendors. Mike kept Jay apprised of these problems and Jay was prepared to talk
to her, but, before he had a chance to do so she quit. Linda had only worked for Impeller for one
month. Jay again had to return to recruit and hire another office manager. This time he hired
Cassandra Williams who had a four-year business degree. She, too, had difficulty figuring out
the office systems and was unable to hit the ground running, but at least she seemed to be
moving forward and would likely work out well given enough time. On a more positive note,
she was able to get along tremendously with Mike and customers and had excellent telephone
Mike managed the workers, and although he got along with Cassandra, he grudgingly provided
her with whatever assistance he could. As the weather improved, Impeller received more and
more orders for field work. Because Jay had been less involved in the field work the past season
and was still away in Florida, workers and customers increasingly came to see Mike as the face
ecreasing. Jay had mixed feelings about this.
could live more freely and comfortably in Florida for the sake of his back.
Changing Behavior of Workers
Jay returned from Florida in mid-March but was unable to be actively involved in the business.
He would drop by the shop and would visit some of the pump installation sites, but he would
rarely perform any of the installation work.
Over the course of the past year or two, it was clear to Jay that a gulf had developed between he
-to-eye on many issues.
When Jay was around his workers, he felt they did not look at him or treat him with the respect
they had in the past. Jay thought they treated him indignantly. With Jay away so much of the
time and of little use in the field and Mike now running the show, it was clear that the workers
looked solely to Mike for guidance and direction. Jay was concerned, although Mike was an
the work to his employees. Mike would rather have people see him as a nice guy then have to
tell them this is the way it is whether they like it or not.
In addition to his salary, Mike also received the usual 10% bonus at the end of each year. In
addition, Jay gave his workers health care benefits plus a 401k plan with a 3% match. The job
came with some other perks as well. Jay gave Mike the full use of a large four-wheel drive
Chevy truck to use at work and for his personal use. In addition, Jay paid for all of the fuel and
maintenance costs for the truck. Jay figured the annual value of the truck to Mike was
approximately $10,000 nontaxable. On top of that, each year Jay sent Mike and his wife on a
week-long paid vacation. The last one was to Kauai, Hawaii.
Over the past few years, Jay and Mike had a number of heart-tocompensation, but the two just could not come to an agreement. Jay never considered giving
Mike any ownership of the firm. He continued to hope that his son would become more
involved with Impeller and would someday take it over. He reasoned to himself that if he
any ownership to Mike it would only complicate the process if his son wanted to take over
Impeller. Whenever the two did talk about compensation, Jay would remind Mike that it was he
alone, the owner of the business, who incurred all the risk associated with running Impeller. He
would also try to convince Mike of the high value of the benefits and perks he was receiving on
top of his salary and bonus, but Mike just did not seem to buy it.
Mike never asked Jay for any ownership. He believed Jay would never consider sharing
and his crew receive performance pay based on the number of yards of pipe installed on pump
system installations. Mike was frustrated that he could not get Jay to seriously consider his
incentive idea. Mike viewed his annual bonus more like a Christmas bonus than anything related
to performance or profitability. It was the same 10% of salary year to year.
Jay did not buy into the performance based incentive idea because he strongly believed that he
was more than generous with all he provided to Mike and his other employees. Jay would think
Compensation aside, it was clear to Jay that Mike was not happy, and on more than one occasion
through some mid-life crisis because his life was not going in the direction he wanted it to,
n, he had many sleepless
The last two years of management/ownership has been very trying for Jay. For approximately 25
years he had profitably managed the firm, and it provided well for him and his family, but he
also felt that it had done well for his employees. Despite the many years of success, he now felt
the business he loved for so many years had become a major source of pain and anxiety. He
knew something needed to change but what? Jay knew his business was worth a hefty sum, and
he might even be able to retire, though at a lower standard of living than he was currently
realized he could no longer do anything that involved heavy physical work, but there must be
something else out there for him.
interested in the business. Should I look for a buyer? Should I sell it to Mike? If so,...