Transworkplace

Transgender Workplace Diversity Network

Harvard Business Review weighs in on transgender workplace issues

Harvard Business Review is starting an in-depth examination of transgender workplace issues today. See my post at transworkplace.blogspot.com for more details.

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Comment by SA_Austin on December 18, 2008 at 4:44am
I was pointed to this case by Donna Rose and commented as follows on the abbreviated version at Donna Rose's blog: http://donnarose.com/MyBlog/?p=242#comments

[This] case is an excellent one covering all the pitfalls of prejudice. The positioning of a senior public manager is realistic, in my mind. HR’s lack of preparation is evident, especially VP’s notifying a top sales subordinate of his superior’s upcoming transition without taking a good deal of preparation. Mid-sized Midwestern manufacturing companies with similar customer bases as LaSalle’s have faced similar issues and successfully managed the matter. Other companies in not dissimilar businesses have successfully worked with their top management transitioning employees of whom several were my transition mentors.

On the other hand, a large chemical company whose customers were also in such areas badly mishandled such managers’ transitions some years ago.

Sales is a particularly sensitive discipline, especially when the customer base is small and likely close-knit as is the case for LaSalle. The problem needs to be carefully considered and a lot of preparation and planning need to be done.

As one who has lead a sales organization through a consolidation not unlike LaSalle’s, I can attest that it is a sensitive task without the potential of disruption with Steve’s transition. Can Steve remain effective in sales management while transitioning? One would hope so, but disruptions abound.

Were I in Henretta’s shoes, I would take some time and plan the repositioning of Steve’s life at LaSalle, coordinating with the CEO and parallel department heads prior to disrupting Steve’s most important subordinate. Depending on strategic goals and the company’s depth of senior personnel, I might recommend that Steve embark on a period of project work away from line management while passing through the the more difficult period of early transition.

Raytheon’s Ms. Taylor’s analysis and comments seem to me to be the most relevant to this case, yet she did not address the transition of a sales manager for a strategically important product consolidation.


It is a very difficult issue in the awkward way in which it has been handled by LaSalle's top management. The sending of a letter to the salesman was especially inappropriate. The original summary did not note the personal clash between director and subordinate, but it was apparent in the summary that such could be the case.

As noted above, I had a direct, pretransition, experience in a consolidation of a sales force and dealt with issues not unlike those facing Steve with the sales person. In addition, prior to this, I had faced a similar situation with a branch sales office of a leading industrial firm, complete with all the issues which come out when an outsider is brought into a leadership organization. It is an extremely delicate matter to bring those who have been successful in technical areas into a different culture. Most top technical sales people do not realize that their skill differs from that of the sales executive who is directing their efforts.

Further, this case is complicated by HR's placing the sales person in check through his wife's illness and his presumed need for continued insured medical care and further complicated by that person's thinking that he had been the victim of age discrimination. The HR VP, who may reflect her CEO, has behaved in a way which could lose both valued resources for the company, Alex, the top performing sales person to a competitor or other industry, and Stephanie who will likely be moved from her line position to another and will either leave voluntarily or likely be terminated for other reasons some time following her surgery.

Top sales performers and top sales executives, especially in technical areas, are very difficult to identify, attract and retain. The cost of a bad decision can be very high for some time. Karl, the CEO, is faced with a very difficult situation which has been aggravated by Henrietta's incompetent approach to the matter.

Until society accepts transition as an ordinary solution to a physical phenomenon, such cases will continue to percolate into management's view for decisions.

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Notes

Introduction to Transworkplace

Created by Jillian T. Weiss Sep 17, 2008 at 12:55am. Last updated by Jillian T. Weiss Mar 11.

Consultants Guide

Created by Jillian T. Weiss Oct 3, 2011 at 9:29am. Last updated by Jillian T. Weiss Oct 3, 2011.

Resources of Interest

Created by Jillian T. Weiss Sep 19, 2008 at 5:09am. Last updated by Jillian T. Weiss Oct 3, 2011.

Organizations of Interest

Created by Jillian T. Weiss Sep 19, 2008 at 5:09am. Last updated by Jillian T. Weiss Jun 3, 2009.

Blogs of Interest

Created by Jillian T. Weiss Sep 19, 2008 at 4:59am. Last updated by Jillian T. Weiss Sep 19, 2008.

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