How we communicate has changed over time from an emphasis on official business letter correspondence and meetings to emails, chats, bots, virtual, video teleconferencing, and others. Today, managers still spend most of their time reading, though this is mode of communication is declining.

Relationship building is critical to a manager and an organization’s success. Making connections within and outside an organization are critical in today’s business environment

In this discussion, consider the roles that managers play in communicating with employees.  Trust and accountability are probably the two most character traits stakeholders look for in “good” managers. Without trust, a manager will not be able to motivate and retain employees, implement goals and change, or relate the simplest of instructions to stakeholders and expect results.

Using the scenario below Identify the trust, accountability, and communication issues Justine has with managing her team. Then in a 2-3 minute video explaining how you believe you would have handled the team before the last-minute change by Allied to prevent a possible disaster for Morton.

Include in your answer the communication tools and skills that are important for your success.

Scenario:

Justine Wood is the top salesperson for Morton Paper Company.  She also leads the sales team that supports Morton’s largest client, Allied Office Supplies. Allied is an international office supply chain that is growing rapidly.  During the month of May, Justine and her team members, Andy Griffith and Ronnie Howard underwent intense negotiations with Allied’s purchasing agent, Jack Black and Allied’s CEO, Cary Grant, to restructure the current sales contracts. 

The new contract spelled out Allied’s yearly paper requirements (contracted sales amounts) as well as payment and credit terms. The negotiations had been particularly hard for several reasons:

  • Allied’s sales had increased internationally causing shipping and customs duties to increase the cost to Morton, resulting in an increase in sales price to Allied’s;
  • The volume of sales for Allied required Morton to offer a volume sales discount to remain competitive with other paper companies;
  • One of the terms of the contract desired by Allied was a long time to pay on the purchases.  They now wanted 60 days to pay on orders invoiced rather than the current 30 days;
  • Allied also wanted Morton to extend its current credit line from $850,000 to $1,250,000;
  • Morton’s CEO (Jimmy Cricket) was reluctant to tie so much of the company’s cash flow to the success of Allied.  The concern was raised because in the last six months, Allied was paying down the credit line every 60 days rather than in the 30 days that had been agreed to in the current contract.  Allied did not appear to have credit issues but Morton was not able to give interest-free loans for 60 days.

This week, in time for the Labor Day holiday vacation, the final agreement was reached between Morton and Allied.  Allied would contract to purchase $1,750,000 of paper products from Morton.  Invoice payment terms were 45 days, with a 3% interest on invoices paid later than 45 days.  The credit limit was extended to $1,000,000.   Justine Wood was not completely happy with the contract, as she felt Morton was not protected from cash flow damage should Allied fail to pay on time, not to mention the larger line of credit.  Still, the parties agreed, including her boss who was skeptical for the same reason as Justine. The parties were due to sign the contract on Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday.

On Friday evening, Justine was packing her belongings readying to leave the office for the holiday, when her cell phone pinged.  The caller was Jack Black, the Purchasing Agent for Allied. It appeared that a recent deal with UMGC tripled its need for copy paper from Morton.  This deal would raise the total contract sales to $2.5 million.  Jack Black made it clear that he wanted to change the credit limit from $1 million to $1.5 million and to extend the payment terms from 45 days to 50 days.  They would not pay interest on late invoices until after 60 days.  Black also made it clear to Justine that if the new terms were not agreed on by the end of that Friday evening, he would be prepared to look at an offer supplied to him by Morton’s biggest competitor, King Paper.  Black further stated that, while Allied is pleased with Morton’s work, money is always the most important factor in purchasing.  Allied’s president wanted an immediate answer so he could go on vacation with a clear mind.  Justine was aware that most of Jack’s talk was a negotiating technique but did not doubt that there is competition waiting in the background.  Images of last month’s teamwork ran through Justine’s mind as she listened to Black talk.

Justine winced at the memory of her teammate Griffith’s constant posturing in front of Black and Allied’s CEO.  She had hoped to be able to pick her own team when she was promoted to leader but that was not to be.  Andy Griffith is a problem on this team.  All month long, he had challenged her ideas in front of Allied’s CEO.  Justine knows that she was promoted over Griffith because her sales record was 20% higher than he was and she could close a deal better than he could.  She was also told By Cricket that she to curb the late payment issue with Allied. Griffith resents her promotion and reminds Justine, as often as possible, that he brought in the Allied’s account and that he and Allied’s CEO have a great relationship.  They play golf together and often go to dinner together with their wives.  Justine thinks Griffith is a good salesperson but believes he should not be on this team because of his pro-Allied stance. The tension is at times very thick especially during the negotiations this month. She never talked with him about her concerns because of her fear that he would make trouble for her with Allied’s CEO. Griffith seemed to want to give away the store.

Unfortunately, Ronnie Howard, the other teammate, seemed to be sitting on the fence when it came to the negotiations.  Justine had expected that Ronnie would support her negotiation position with the client rather than Griffith’s because it protected Morton.  Since Ronnie was the niece of Morton’s owner and CEO, Justine believed Ronnie should be supportive of protecting the company’s money.  Still, Ronnie was the one who came up with the idea of paying interest on the late invoices.  It just seemed to Justine that one day Ronnie was agreeing with Griffith and on another day with her.  Justine supposed that it was Ronnie’s new position at the company that made her want to please everyone, including Griffith.  Justine believed that pleasing people is a nice gesture but does not add to the efficiency of the team’s decision-making.  Justine believed that Ronnie would be looking for the general thoughts of the group, so she could appear to agree with the group.

Overall, the month’s negotiation process had been long and difficult.  The thought of going over it all again to make the changes seemed mind-numbing to Justine.  Yet, making the decision on her own would mean obligating the company to an even greater cash flow commitment.  Her boss would not be happy with this obligation because he specifically warned her when they started that there was nothing to prevent Allied’s from continuing to pay its bills every 60 days despite the new contract agreement.  Justine rationalized and thought to herself, “Allied knows we are not likely to cut them off easily.  They are too big a customer to us.  However, the extra sales volume should offset the lost interest due for ten days in late invoices.”

Justine told Black that he could tell the CEO that she would agree to the terms.  When Justine hung up the phone, she said aloud to nobody in particular, “I supposed I should have consulted the group, but it was worth the risk of not having to make another team decision.” But Was it worth it?

Finally, reply to 3-4 other learners showing an understanding of the content, expanding on the topics, and extending the conversation with your research.

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