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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ALEX SANDER: DRIVING IN THE FAST LANE AT LANDON CARE PRODUCTS

INTRODUCTION

The case here is about an individual named Alex Sander, who is 32 years old and an MBA graduate from MIT, is the new product manager in the Toiletries Division of Landon Care Products Inc. Alex is hard working yet narcissist and strives for perfection in his job not realizing that everybodys capacity for work is different. Alex is basically a workaholic who trusts people to get the work done they have been asked for in any way possible and is not afraid to push them to find out what theyre thinking. There are instances in the case where Alex loses his cool over people including his superiors and rebukes one of the most experienced people in the company. Alex is also hampered by the fact that he has to go through a 360 review from his boss, Sam Glass, as a part of the company policy as he feels it is a waste of time as he needs to focus on his new product launch Nourish which is the most challenging marketing assignment hes ever had. Sander is not afraid to switch his work field as he believes it to be fine as long as he has a certain degree of success. The ultimate question of the case is what should Sam Glass do about his star employee? How can he, as a manager, channel Alexs talent and ensure success for the product group and for Alex as an individual?

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

This case exhibits various events of a particular working day in Alex Sanders life and how he faces them. Alex is a 32 year old MBA grad from MIT and is working as the youngest and newest Product Manager in the Toiletries Division of Landon Care Products Inc. Alex is a highly talented individual, a fast learner, has entrepreneurial skills with extensive market and product knowledge, is selfconfident, and self-driven. On the other hand, Alex is immature emotionally and aloof from his colleagues at work. The case begins with Alexs workout at 5.25 AM with his neighbor. Alex expresses his dislike for the 360 performance review which he would be receiving that day from his boss, Sam Glass. He feels the review is a waste of time as he needs every moment to focus on his new product launch Nourish. At 9 AM he is in office. He rebukes Betsy Garrison, Sr. Sales Analyst in Marketing, for her inability to show results according to Alexs expectations and takes charge of Garrisons task in his own hands. He is interviewed for his Alumni Magazine on High Potential product managers. He informs the interviewer of his achievements and responsibilities at Landon. He expresses his opinion of an effective Product Manager.

At 10.30 AM he meets his boss, Sam Glass. They discuss about the 360 performance review. Glass tries to convince him the effectiveness and importance of this review while Alex is least concerned about it. Glass points out some weaknesses of Alex and suggests him to go through the feedback completely. At 2 PM, Alex enters the conference room for a meeting with the Nourish team. They discuss about the brands market strategy to score over the competitors. In the end, Alex assigned tasks to every team member and expects them to finish the tasks within the given timeline. At 9 PM Alex is at work-out with his neighbor. He is asked about the review. Alex decides not to read the review. He explores the career options available to himeither continue working in Landon or start up his own business where he would have the sole authority of all affairs. In the end, Glass discusses about Alex with his colleague. He knows that Alex is a star performer and Landon needs him. It is left in Glass hands to reap Alexs talent for the betterment and success of Lander.

CHARACTER SKETCH

ALEX SANDER

Alex is a 32-year old MBA graduate from MIT who happens to be the youngest product manager at LANDON CARE PRODUCTS which is a cosmetic product company located in Connecticut. Earlier, he was working with Barnhill and Cooper Advertising Agency. Alex is a hard working professional yet has a sort of machiavellist and narcissist personality and also is mercurial. He doesnt care about the work load given to him or the work load given by him to the individuals under him. He is not afraid to hurt someones feelings in order to get the job done. He is a workaholic and believes in utilizing every second for work and in the process doesnt really care about the 360 review that he has to go through. He is aggressive, and is undaunted by any new challenges. He is committed to his work, is self-confident and is appreciative. Apart from his poor tolerance levels and narcissism, he has what it takes to be a good team leader.

SAM GLASS

Sam Glass is the Product Group Supervisor at LANDON CARE PRODUCTS, Alexs boss. Sam hired Alex as he could feel that Alex could accelerate the product launches despite knowing that he could create some sort of disturbances in the team. Sam seems to be the type of person who talks to the point and doesnt beat around the bush. Glass backs Alex very well in his job but believes Alex needs

to work upon his team skills as he believes Alex is well respected but is not seen as a leader. Although he is intimidated by Alex, he wants Alex to continue working for him at Landon.

MAIN ISSUES

1. Machiavellism Alex is a classic machiavellist. He is willing to go any lengths to get things done from his side and from the people he has allotted work to and he doesnt really care about peoples feelings and comfort levels if it gets the job done. 2. Narcissism Alex doesnt care about the feedback he gets and feels that the 360 performance review is a waste of time. Hes not willing to take others advice and believes his way is the right way. 3. Lone ranger Alex is rather self-driven and lacks motivational skills. He undermines a lot of people whenever he comes up with the right answer without involving them. Alex is also a bit too honest in critical assessments of others and doesnt take a broader and more mature view of people. 4. Arrogance Alex believes hes better than everyone else and is really off-putting. Also he controls every minute detail and doesnt leave out a chance of belittling others. 5. Inflexible at work Alex believes hes not worried about promotions as long as he has a degree of success in his job. He believes money and compensation are the primary aspects on which a persons work is judged. And is willing to switch jobs for the same reason.

The main issue Sam Glass is facing in this case is that how can he channel the talent of Alex Sander in such a way that is beneficial to both, the company and Alex himself.

PLAUSIBLE SOLUTIONS

For such situations it is difficult to find a win-win situation and hence all the plausible solutions may be perceived in the negative context by the protagonist. Some of the plausible solutions are:

1. Alex could be told to undergo a self-evaluation test in the direct supervision of a psychoanalyst. This can make him see his own faults and limitations and can help him improve upon the same although he may consider this move as a waste of his time. 2. Alex could be told to undergo some leadership training as a part of his job so that he could learn some people skills and develop some key leadership skills that he lacks. On the down-side he could see this as something that keeps him from doing his work more efficiently.

3. Another solution that could be considered is to move Alex from the managerial position to a regular team member so as to improve his team skills and make him realize his own disregards towards his fellow teammates. On the negative note, this move could hurt his ego and he may leave Landon for a company that he thinks suits him better.

The best possible solution: There may not be a win-win solution for such case but the best possible solution would be that Alex could undergo a self-evaluation test under a psychoanalyst he thinks is genuine. That way he would respect the outcome of the test and can have a sense of realization of his own faults.

MANAGERIAL LEARNINGS

This situation is not one of its kind. It is a classic case which can be found in a majority of the organizations. It helps one analyze ones own behavior and belief system. Managers have to tackle such situations on a day-to-day basis. Some of the critical learnings from this case are: 1. A good manager has to work in a team, lead the team and not be a lone ranger. 2. A good manager is a good listener and is always open to feedbacks. Narcissism has no place in a managers personality. 3. He has to respect others opinions and feelings and not steamroll over them to achieve a particular goal. 4. A good manager never measures someones work-rate in terms of money or compensation as it is not the only measure. 5. A good manager is a good motivator. He is a part of a much larger picture and shouldnt be selfcentered. 6. A manager is not only respected but is viewed as a leader.