7.8 Cases and Problems

Learning on the Web (AACSB)

What’s Your (Emotional) IQ?

If you were an HR manager, on what criteria would you base a hiring decision—intelligence (IQ), education, technical skills, experience, references, or performance on the interview? All these can be important determinants of a person’s success, but some experts believe that there’s an even better predictor of success. It’s called emotional intelligence (or EI), and it gained some currency in the mid-1990s thanks to Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. EI is the ability to understand both our own emotions and those of others, as well as the ability to use that understanding in managing our behavior, motivating ourselves, and encouraging others to achieve goals.

An attractive aspect of EI is that, unlike IQ, it’s not fixed at an early age. Rather, its vital components—self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management—can be strengthened over time. To assess your level of EI, go to the Web site maintained by the Hay Group, a management-consulting firm, and take the ten-item test that’s posted there (http://psychology.about.com/library/quiz/bl_eq_quiz.htm?questnum=6&cor=2399). After completing the test, you’ll get your EI score, some instructions for interpreting it, and an answer key.

When you’ve finished with the test, rank the following items according to the importance that you’d give them in making a hiring decision: intelligence, education, technical skills, experience, references, interview skills, and emotional intelligence. Explain your ranking.

Preparing for Tomorrow’s Workplace Skills

  1. The benefits package of many employers includes numerous items such as health insurance, life insurance, 401(k) plan, paid vacations, tuition reimbursement, employee price discounts on products of the firm, and paid sick leave. At your age, what are the three or four most important benefits? Why? Twenty years from now, what do you think will be your three or four most important benefits? Why? (Resources)
  2. Assume you have been asked to speak at a local meeting of human resource and labor relations professionals. The topic is whether union membership will increase or decline in the next 50 years. Take either the increase or the decline position and outline your presentation. (Information)
  3. Go to the government documents section in your college or university library, and inspect publications of the Department of Labor (DOL), including Employment and Earnings, Compensation and Working Conditions, Monthly Labor Review, Occupational Outlook Handbook, and Career Guide to Industries. Alternatively, go to the DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics website at http://stats.bls.gov. Access the most recent DOL publications and locate the following information. (Information)\
    • Number of persons in the American workforce
    • Unemployment rate for last year
    • Demographic characteristics of the American workforce: race, ethnic status, age, marital status, and gender
    • Occupations where there are projected shortages for the next five or 10 years
    • Union membership by major industry category: manufacturing, banking and finance, health care, business and personal services, sports and entertainment, and any other area of interest to you
  4. Assume you are a director of labor relations for a firm faced with a union certification election in 30 days. Draft a letter to be sent to your employees in which you urge them to vote “no union”; be persuasive in presenting your arguments against the union. (Information)
  5. Using the internet, research articles featuring a recent strike or a labor contract settlement. Report to your class the specifics of the strike or settlement. (Technology, Resources)
  6. Team Activity Select two teams of five. One team will take the position that employees are simply a business expense to be managed. The second team will argue that employees are an asset to be developed to enable the firm to gain a competitive advantage. The remainder of the class will judge which team provided the stronger argument. (Interpersonal)
  7. Have you or a family member ever been a union member? If so, name the union and describe it in terms of membership size, membership characteristics, strike history, recent bargaining issues, and employers under union contracts. (Information)
  8. Team Activity Divide the class into two groups. One group will take the position that workers should be required to join unions and pay dues. The other group will take the position that workers should not be required to join unions. Hold a debate in which a spokesperson from each group is given 10 minutes to present the group’s arguments. (Interpersonal)

Ethics Angle (AACSB)

Misstating the Facts

Life couldn’t get much better for George O’Leary when he was named the head football coach at Notre Dame. Unfortunately, he barely had time to celebrate his new job before he was ruled ineligible: after just a week on the job, he was forced to resign, embarrassing himself, his family, his friends, and Notre Dame itself. Why? Because of a few lies that he’d put on his résumé twenty years earlier. To get the facts behind this story, go to the Chicago Tribune site https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2001-12-15-0112150269-story.html and read the article “Short Tenure: O’Leary Out at Notre Dame After One Week.” Then, answer the following questions:

  1. Was O’Leary’s punishment appropriate? If you were the athletic director at Notre Dame, would you have meted out the same punishment? Why, or why not?
  2. False information on his résumé came back to haunt O’Leary after twenty years. Once he’d falsified his résumé, was there any corrective action that he could have taken? If so, what?
  3. If O’Leary had told Notre Dame about the falsifications before they came to light, would they have hired him?
  4. Would his previous employer take him back?
  5. O’Leary was later hired as a head coach by the University of Central Florida. Will the episode involving his résumé undermine his ability to encourage players to act with integrity? Will it affect his ability to recruit players?
  6. What’s the lesson to be learned from O’Leary’s experience? In what ways might a few (theoretical) misstatements on your résumé come back to haunt you?

Team-Building Skills (AACSB)

Dorm Room Rescue

Any night of the week (at least as of this writing), you can relax in front of the TV and watch a steady stream of shows about how to improve your living space—such as New Spaces. You like the concept of these programs well enough, but you’re tired of watching them in a tiny, cluttered dorm room that’s decorated in early barracks style. Out of these cramped conditions, however, you and a team of friends come up with an idea. On graduation, you’ll start a business called Dorm Room Rescue to provide decorating services to the dorm dwellers who come after you. You’ll help college students pick colors and themes for their rooms and select space-saving furniture, storage materials, area rugs, and wall decorations. Your goal will be to create attractive dorm rooms that provide comfort, functionality, and privacy, as well as pleasant spaces in which students can relax and even entertain.

The team decides to develop a plan for the HR needs of your future company. You’ll need to address the following issues:

  1. HR plan
    • Number of employees
    • Job descriptions: duties and responsibilities for each type of employee
    • Job specifications: needed skills, knowledge, and abilities
  2. Recruitment of qualified employees
    • Recruitment plan: how and where to find candidates
    • Selection process: steps taken to select employees
  3. Developing employees
    • New-employee orientation
    • Training and development
  4. Compensation and benefits
    • Wages, salaries, and incentive programs
    • Benefits
  5. Work/Life quality
    • Work schedules and alternative work arrangements
    • Family-friendly programs
  6. Performance appraisal
    • Appraisal process
    • Retaining valuable employees

You might want to divide up the initial work, but you’ll need to regroup as a team to make your final decisions on these issues and to create a team-prepared report.

The Global View (AACSB)

Sending Ed to China

You’re the HR manager for a large environmental consulting firm that just started doing business in China. You’ve asked your top engineer, Ed Deardon, to relocate to Shanghai for a year. Though China will be new to Deardon, working overseas won’t be; he’s already completed assignments in the Philippines and Thailand; as before, his wife and three children will be going with him.

You’ve promised Deardon some advice on adapting to living and working conditions in Shanghai, and you intend to focus on the kinds of cultural differences that tend to create problems in international business dealings. Unfortunately, you personally know absolutely nothing about living in China and so must do some online research. Here are some promising sites:


Prepare a written report to Deardon in which you identify and explain five or six cultural differences between business behavior in the United States and China, and offer some advice on how to deal with them.


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Foundations of Business by Manika Avasthi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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