Effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation

S w
Karin Koopmans wrote this case under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth M. A. Grasby solely to provide material for class
discussion. The authors do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may
have disguised certain names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.
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Copyright © 2007, Ivey Management Services Version: (A) 2008-01-30
―I can’t take this anymore! When is Derek going to start doing his job?‖ exclaimed Janice Bowman, after
hanging up the phone. It was an early June morning in 2007 when Bowman, office manager at the Garden
Depot (The Depot), had again dealt with a very irate customer. The phone call was one of many that
Bowman had taken during the past four months concerning the lack of communication between Derek
Sinclair, the Barrie, Ontario, store’s landscaping manager, and his customers. This call was the last straw
for Bowman, compounding her anxiety about numerous labor and organizational problems she had
witnessed in the landscaping division. Bowman knew that extensive changes needed to be made if she
were to do her job effectively while, at the same time, managing to avoid involvement in the landscaping
division’s problems.
The Depot originated in 1985 as a small, family-owned floral company in Barrie, Ontario. As sales and
profits grew, the company began carrying a larger variety of floral, gardening and lawn-care products. In
1992, The Depot launched a lawn maintenance department to capitalize on the growing desires of
customers to have professionals take care of their lawns. Responding again to customer demand, The
Depot created a landscaping division in 1998, offering complete custom landscaping packages, waterfalls
and sprinkler systems. By 2007, The Depot operated a successful 12,000-square-foot retail store, a lawn
maintenance division and a landscaping division (see Exhibit 1 for an organizational chart).
Due to the nature of the gardening business, The Depot’s sales fluctuated with seasonal demands. It was
always a challenge to recruit and retain qualified staff, and management was often forced to downsize staff
during the winter months. During peak summer months, 80 per cent of The Depot’s employees were
students who would leave at the end of the summer to return to school in September. There was no formal
performance appraisal system at The Depot, nor any defined job responsibilities. The Depot’s owners
relied on department managers to deal with any labor issues.
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Page 2 9B08C006
Janice Bowman began her career in the gardening industry in 1992, working as a general manager for one
of Garden Depot’s competitors. After 13 years of service, personal differences with management forced
Bowman to leave the company. Upon hearing of her availability, The Depot approached Bowman with an
offer in June 2005, which she accepted, to join the company immediately. Although there was no
particular opening for her, management was confident that The Depot could benefit from her 13 years of
operational knowledge in the industry. In her first few months, Bowman was asked to organize the
computer inventory system and develop a material ordering system. After the first few months, Bowman
began to work on other small projects within every division of the company, sharing her knowledge
wherever it was needed.
Bowman described herself as a dedicated worker who was happy to help co-workers whenever they
needed help. She was never one to say ―that’s not my job,‖ and she could often be seen cleaning shelves
on the retail floor. She took great pride in her job and wanted to ensure all areas of the business were
running smoothly. She described herself as highly customer-oriented and would go out of her way to
ensure customers had a positive experience with The Depot.
In March 2006, Bowman’s manager, Dave Sampson, suggested they sit down informally and discuss her
performance to date. The informal appraisal was highly positive; however, Sampson had noted that Janice
was involved in too many areas of the business, and this level of involvement was not sustainable. They
decided to loosely define her job title as ―office manager,‖ which included tasks such as inventory
management, computer system management and logistics.
Although Bowman often worked seven days a week without complaint, she was growing increasingly
frustrated with how The Depot’s landscaping division was run. Since her job relied on information
provided by this division, she deemed it her responsibility to try to solve many of the division’s issues.
She knew that if no action were taken, she would spend more hours trying to fix the division’s mistakes
and more hours taking customer complaints.
The landscaping division was responsible for designing and installing custom landscaping, including rock
walls, gardens, waterfalls and sprinkler systems. The division employed 12 landscapers, 11 of whom were
part-time summer staff. The department managed to complete approximately 50 landscaping jobs each
year, which were fewer than what was demanded, resulting in many jobs being pushed back to the
following spring if they could not be completed in the fall.
In January 2007, the manager of the landscaping division left the company to pursue other opportunities.
In a move that was viewed as questionable by many full-time employees, The Depot’s owner hired his 35-
year-old son-in-law, Derek Sinclair, as the new manager of the division. Many staff worried that The
Depot’s owner was doing his son-in-law a favor by hiring him, given that he appeared unqualified for the
position. Bowman noted some immediate problems with Sinclair’s integration into his position and with
his management capabilities.
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Page 3 9B08C006
Murray and Glenda King started the Garden Depot in 1985 based on their shared love of gardening. The
husband-and-wife team had been equally involved in growing the business until 2004, when Glenda
retired. Murray King was a ―hands-off‖ manager who trusted his division managers to run their respective
divisions appropriately. King worked at The Depot five days a week, spending most of his time in his
office. Bowman’s interaction with King had been limited to asking him questions when she needed
clarification. On more than one occasion, King would claim to know nothing about what Bowman was
asking, leading her to believe he was quite removed from many of the day-to-day activities in the business.
Bowman had observed that King spent endless hours crunching performance metrics in his office, but very
little time was spent on planning the company’s strategic direction. Bowman chose not to involve King in
any of the issues she was having with the landscaping division since he appeared to be far removed from
its operations. In fact, King had commented on more than one occasion that Sinclair was doing a superb
job and he was happy with Sinclair’s performance to date. Bowman noted that Sinclair had a strong
rapport with King and would often be in King’s office chatting casually; in fact, if Sinclair had any
concerns or problems, he took them directly to King for discussion.
Dave Sampson joined The Depot as its general manager in 2002 and was responsible for ensuring the
overall financial health of the company. Sampson had a good relationship with all division managers and
was well respected by all employees. Sampson spent most of his time in the retail side of the business,
wherein he managed the retail staff, ensured the store looked presentable and kept an eye on sales levels
and profitability. Despite this concentration, King had commented that Sampson was responsible for the
operating efficiency of both the landscaping and maintenance divisions.
Sampson gave his subordinates a lot of autonomy to run their own divisions and intervened only when
problems became too burdensome for managers to solve. Sampson was receptive and approachable; thus,
many employees approached him for help. Sampson and Bowman were good friends and they often spent
time discussing the company’s problems and how they might solve these problems.
Derek Sinclair joined The Depot as landscaping manager in late January 2007. Sinclair’s previous work
experience included being a dispatcher at a local towing company, where he claimed to learn skills such as
paying attention to details and strong customer orientation. Beyond these skills, Sinclair had no prior
experience in the retail, construction or landscaping environments, and he had no previous management
experience. As a manager at The Depot, Sinclair’s responsibilities covered four key categories:
organizing and deploying landscapers to job sites, dealing with customers and responding to customer
concerns, invoicing completed landscaping jobs and traveling to clients’ homes to quote1

Quoting involved meeting the customers at their homes to discuss their landscaping goals and providing these customers
with a cost estimate of the job.
This document is authorized for use only by Samantha Panizo Baiocchi in WCM-610-X4388 Intro Org Conflict Mgmt 20TW4 at Southern New Hampshire University, 2020.
Page 4 9B08C006
Within a few weeks, Bowman noticed many of Sinclair’s limitations in his role. First, because he lacked
any experience in landscaping, Sinclair was unable to answer specific customer questions when they
called, which often led him to avoid answering the phones altogether. Bowman also noted that many jobs
were not priced according to the cost of the materials being used; she suspected that Sinclair was not
accurately quoting jobs since he was unsure which materials would have to be used. Whenever Bowman
approached Sinclair’s desk, she noticed numerous incomplete invoices scattered over it, some with dates
many weeks old. This meant that clients were not getting billed for landscaping work that had been
completed. Bowman sympathized with Sinclair, so she had approached him at the end of February to offer
help with the invoicing responsibilities. Sinclair appeared relieved and was happy that Bowman had come
to his aid.
By the end of March, Bowman had taken over the majority of Sinclair’s invoicing duties, in addition to her
own job responsibilities. While her initial offer was to help alleviate some of Sinclair’s load, Bowman
soon found that Sinclair was sending her every single invoice and was not completing any of the work
himself. After four weeks, Bowman had become frustrated. She had spent four Saturdays catching up on
the invoicing, while noting that Sinclair had not worked a single weekend since his employment with The
Bowman approached Sampson about the situation:
Dave, I feel like I’m being used. It has become clear that I am doing all of Derek’s work
on top of my own. I am simply running out of time to get everything done. I’m spending
all my weekends here to catch up on his work!
Sampson agreed that this was not Bowman’s responsibility, so he approached Sinclair and told him that he
would need to find a way to manage the invoicing on his own. Bowman felt relieved that Sinclair would
be reclaiming this work, and she could return to concentrating on her primary inventory management
responsibilities; however, it wasn’t long until continuing problems in the landscaping department
Job Slips
Bowman was solely responsible for ensuring that parts and supplies arrived in a timely fashion and were in
ample supply when required by the landscaping division. Stock-outs were costly to the company since it
could hold up a client’s job for numerous days until additional supplies could be ordered. In order to
account properly for the flow of goods, the landscaping division was responsible for forwarding customer
invoices and job slips to Bowman. A job slip was a list of all supplies and materials used at a job site in
order to accurately charge clients for the material cost of their landscaping (see Exhibit 2 for a sample job
slip.) Bowman would then take the supplies used on each job out of the computerized inventory system
and reorder supplies if necessary. She also ensured that payments were received from customers. Not long
after Sinclair had resumed his invoicing responsibilities, Bowman began to note that the customers’
invoices were still grossly underpriced on the job slips, since the listed materials were not the actual
materials used on the job.
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Page 5 9B08C006
Bowman was also struggling to keep track of the materials that had been used on each customer’s job. She
was constantly receiving job slips that were clearly missing materials that would have had to be used,
given the nature of the job being invoiced. For example, if a customer had received a sprinkler system for
a 1,000-square-foot yard, a minimum of six sprinkler heads would have had to be used. Bowman would
receive a job slip listing three sprinkler heads and hardly any plumbing supplies. She assumed that the
landscaping staff was either too lazy to account for each and every material item used or they didn’t know
what parts they were using and could not describe them on job slips. To alleviate this problem, Bowman
prepared detailed binders with pictures and product codes for all materials used on a job site and gave a
binder to each of the 12 landscapers. Despite all of these efforts, Bowman still noticed inconsistencies on
the job slips and was forced to track down the landscapers to clarify which materials had been used.
Bowman finally decided to approach Sinclair about the issue.
Bowman: ―Derek, you need to go over each job slip with staff and ensure that they are complete. I’ve
found many parts missing off these slips, and I don’t trust that customers are getting billed accordingly. I
simply can’t spend time chasing every worker around to make sure the job slips are correct. I suspect we
are losing a lot of money on these jobs.‖
Sinclair: ―Is it really a big deal? A dollar here and there isn’t going to affect the company. The parts used
on these jobs are not expensive.‖
Bowman: ―Well, I suspect that we are talking about more than a few dollars. Even so, if I can’t keep track
of how many parts we have in inventory, I’ll never know when to reorder them. It’s too costly to run out
of parts.‖
Sinclair: ―All right, Janice. I will make a stronger effort to review the slips and keep the inventory on
track. If it takes me reviewing each and every one at the end of the day, I’ll do it.‖
Although Sinclair’s promise sounded sincere, Bowman noted that when the landscapers returned to The
Depot at 6 p.m. after completing their jobs, Sinclair had already left for the day and the job slips were not
John Campbell
When walking by Sinclair’s desk, Bowman was surprised to see John Campbell, a part-time student
landscaper, at the computer entering new invoices. Campbell explained that Sinclair had told him that he
was now responsible for invoicing duties and that he was not sure how to do them. Bowman could not
believe that Sinclair had shifted this responsibility to someone with no invoicing experience, and she
suddenly realized that the past weeks’ invoices were most likely not accurate. Bowman told Campbell not
to hesitate to ask her if he had any questions. In the four weeks that passed, Campbell never approached
Bowman with any questions, so she believed she had no choice but to fix the invoices herself. Though
displeased with this arrangement, Bowman chose not to complain to anyone, and she continued to fix
invoices on her own.
This document is authorized for use only by Samantha Panizo Baiocchi in WCM-610-X4388 Intro Org Conflict Mgmt 20TW4 at Southern New Hampshire University, 2020.
Page 6 9B08C006
Sinclair’s Leadership
Bowman knew she was not the only one questioning Sinclair’s ability. Bowman’s son, Marcus, had
recently joined the landscaping staff on a part-time basis and had daily interaction with Sinclair. With 12
years of previous experience in the garden industry, Marcus knew all aspects of landscape planning and
building. After one month working under Sinclair’s leadership, Marcus commented:
I’ve never seen a landscaping department run so poorly. Derek is completely useless at all
aspects of his job. He has no time-management skills or concept of how to schedule
landscaping jobs in a time-effective manner. He lacks a customer focus and often avoids
taking customer calls. Everything Derek does is reactive, always waiting for customer
complaints rather than taking action to provide good service. I’m sick of showing up at
customers’ houses and getting yelled at for Derek’s incompetence.
Bowman wondered whether other staff members felt the same way. She was concerned about the impact
Sinclair’s leadership may be having on staff morale.
Customer Complaints
Bowman was getting increasingly anxious about the large number of customer complaints she was
receiving. When a customer called the store looking for a specific person, they could either leave a
voicemail for the requested person if he or she was not available, or they would be given the opportunity to
speak with someone else. Bowman was well known and well liked by many of The Depot’s regular
customers and, thus, was often asked for on the phone by name. Unfortunately, the majority of the calls
Bowman was taking lately were customer complaints about how Sinclair had not returned his calls or how
their invoices were not similar to the quote provided by Sinclair. Bowman often sympathized with
customers, commenting:
It’s just not fair to the customers. All they want are updates on when they can expect their
landscaping job to be completed, and Derek doesn’t bother to call them back. It really
doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep customers happy — it’s all about communication. I
find myself promising customers that I will personally follow up with them after speaking
with Derek, which only adds to my workload. I’m tired of getting yelled at for
circumstances not under my control, and I feel guilty working for a company that treats
customers so poorly.
Bowman was unsure whether she should approach Sinclair about these concerns and, if she did, whether
she could trust that he would change.
Staff Problems
Bowman’s concerns about the landscaping division and Sinclair’s management style were exacerbated by
the strange behavior of one of the landscapers, Jayme Strong. Jayme joined The Depot’s staff as a fulltime landscaper in April 2007. He had two years’ previous experience with another landscaping company,
and he appeared to get along well with the other staff. Strong was expected to work approximately eight
This document is authorized for use only by Samantha Panizo Baiocchi in WCM-610-X4388 Intro Org Conflict Mgmt 20TW4 at Southern New Hampshire University, 2020.
Page 7 9B08C006
hours a day, five days per week. When Bowman received the employee time cards,2
she noticed that
Strong’s assigned jobs took longer than comparable jobs on other employees’ timecards (see Exhibit 3 for
a sample time card.)
One day, Bowman was speaking with a long-time customer, Mr. Gladwell, who had purchased some rocks
and garden supplies to create his own landscaped garden. At numerous points in the conversation, Mr.
Gladwell mentioned how Strong had arranged the flowerbeds and installed things so beautifully.
Knowing that the customer had not paid for any installation services from The Depot lately, Bowman
approached Sinclair:
Bowman: ―Derek, I just had an odd conversation with Mr. Gladwell, who mentioned that Jayme had
installed some of his flowerbeds. Didn’t he only purchase materials from us?‖
Sinclair: ―Oh yes … Well, Jayme just did some of the install for him while he was in the area. It’s not a
big deal really. We made enough money off of selling him the materials anyways. Who cares?‖
Bowman simply shrugged and walked away, appalled that Sinclair would let Strong do volunteer work on
company time. She wondered whether Strong had masked this work at Mr. Gladwell’s in his time cards by
extending his reported time on other jobs. She was concerned that other customers may have been
overcharged for hours that Strong was not actually working there. Furthermore, was Strong charging Mr.
Gladwell for his work and keeping the money himself?
Bowman began to think Strong was not only dishonest recording his time cards but also potentially
stealing goods from the company. In early April, right around the time Strong joined the staff, Bowman
was baffled when a sprinkler system, which was in stock according to the computerized inventory, was
nowhere to be found. A few weeks later, The Depot’s bookkeeper approached Bowman with an
interesting story. She mentioned that friends of hers had a new state-of-the-art sprinkler system installed,
which they gushed was a ―bargain deal.‖ They mentioned that they bought the system from a young man
named ―Jayme‖ who had also been kind enough to install it for them at a very cheap rate. Bowman
thought this was very suspicious but she had no proof to confirm what she thought to be true — that Strong
was working on personal jobs on company time and stealing supplies to do them.
Bowman had mentioned these odd occurrences to Sinclair, but he never expressed as much concern as
Bowman. Although Bowman knew that Sinclair was Strong’s boss, Sinclair appeared to have no desire to
discipline Strong in any way or to further investigate these mysterious situations. Bowman was finding it
difficult to ignore behavior that could have devastating effects on the company’s financial position and
After hanging up with yet another irate customer, Bowman was exasperated. This was not the first
complaint she had to deal with concerning Sinclair and his refusal to return customers’ calls or to keep
them informed about the progress of their landscaping job. In Bowman’s view, the landscaping division
was completely disorganized, and she was not confident that Sinclair was interested in keeping things
under control. Bowman feared that soon customers would be going elsewhere and the longevity of
company would be in question. She knew something would have to change if she was going to continue
working at The Depot, but she did not know where to start.

Employees were required to fill out time cards. The time cards detailed which jobs they worked on and for how long.
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Page 8 9B08C006
Exhibit 1
General Manager
Dave Sampson
Owner /President
Murray King
Retail staff
Sue Jenkins
Landscapers (12)
Jayme Strong
Derek Sinclair
Jim Chambers
Nancy Coss
Office Manager
Janice Bowman
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Page 9 9B08C006
Exhibit 2
Customer Name: M. Jones Job #: 006 Date Job Completed: April 16, 2007
Flowers/Shrubbery Rock/Stone Plumbing/Fittings Misc.
2 Potted Gardenias ____ 5 Elbow fittings 4 A+ 4lb Soil
8 Rose buds ____ 6 Bronze Sprinklers ____
____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____
____ ____ ____ ____
10 ____ 11 4 Total
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Page 10 9B08C006
Exhibit 3
Employee Name: K. Roberts Employee #: 002 Time period: April 1/07 – April 7/07
Date Customer Name (hrs) Hours
Mon 01 Simpson (4), Cobb (2), Gyll (2) 6
Tues 02 Sanders (3), Walsh (2), Cobb (2), Leighton (1) 8
Wed 03 Gyll (2), Warner (1), Walsh (3), Cobb (2) 8
Thurs 04 Leighton (5), Simpson (2) 7
Fri 05 Warner (4), Gyll (1), Simpson (3) 8
Sat 06 Day Off
Sun 07 Day off
Weekly Total Hours 37
X K. Roberts
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It might seem impossible to you that all custom-written essays, research papers, speeches, book reviews, and other custom task completed by our writers are both of high quality and cheap. It is surprising, but we do have some tricks to lower prices without hindering quality.

To start using our services, it’s enough to place a request like “I need a writer to do my assignment” or “Please, write an essay for me.” We have a convenient order form, which you can complete within minutes and pay for the order via a secure payment system. The support team will view it after the order form and payment is complete and then they will find an academic writer who matches your order description perfectly. Once you submit your instructions, while your order is in progress and even after its completion, our support team will monitor it to provide you with timely assistance.

Affordable essay writing service: get custom papers created by academic experts

Hiring good writers is one of the key points in providing high-quality services. That’s why we have entry tests for all applicants who want to work for us. We try to make sure all writers working for us are professionals, so when you purchase custom-written papers, they are of high quality and non-plagiarized.

Our cheap essay writing service employs only writers who have outstanding writing skills. The quality of all custom papers written by our team is important to us; that is why we are so attentive to the application process and employ only those writers who can produce great essays and other kinds of written assignments. All our writers are graduates. They are competent in handling the clients’ assignments. We step in to help you with any and all of your assignments. Our assignment help service ensures that you never miss a grade or deadline.

Plagiarism-free affordable papers

All our cheap essays are customized to meet your requirements and written from scratch. Our writers have a lot of experience with academic papers and know how to write them without plagiarism. Moreover, at our academic service, we have our own plagiarism-detection software which is designed to find similarities between completed papers and online sources. You can be sure that our custom-written papers are original and properly cited.

Our essay writing service has a 0% plagiarism tolerance. We are well aware of the dangers of plagiarism. Plagiarism is academic suicide. Our essay writing service ensures that all papers are original. We do not sell pre-written papers. All papers are written from scratch as per the instructions. We pass our papers through powerful anti-plagiarism software such as SafeAssign and TurnItIn.

Money-back guarantee

Our cheap essay writing service tries to always be at its best performance level, so each customer who pays money for paper writing can be sure that he or she will get what is wanted. On the off chance that you don’t like your order, you can request a refund and we will return the money according to our money-back guarantee.

There can be a number of reasons why you might not like your order. If we honestly don’t meet your expectations, we will issue a refund. You can also request a free revision, if there are only slight inconsistencies in your order. Your writer will make the necessary amendments free of charge. You can find out more information by visiting our revision policy and money-back guarantee pages, or by contacting our support team via online chat or phone.

On-time Delivery

We know how important any deadline is to you; that’s why everyone in our company has their tasks and perform them promptly to provide you with the required assistance on time. We even have an urgent delivery option for short essays, term papers, or research papers needed within 8 to 24 hours.

We appreciate that you have chosen our cheap essay service, and will provide you with high-quality and low-cost custom essays, research papers, term papers, speeches, book reports, and other academic assignments for sale. We beat all deadlines. We can also handle urgent orders with deadlines as short as 1 hour. Our urgent paper writing service does not compromise on quality due to the short deadline. On the contrary, our essay writers have a lot of experience which comes in handy in such situations.

24/7 support

We provide affordable writing services for students around the world. That’s why we work without a break to help you at any time, wherever you are located. Contact us for cheap writing assistance. Our impeccable customer support team will answer all your questions and help you out with any issues.

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(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

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Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

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Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

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Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

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Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

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