The two Jensen Shoes Case studies combine into a classic tale of two sets of reception and bias errors leading to differing interpretations of the same events.
The protagonists are Lyndon Brooks (Brooks), an employee, and Jane Gravity (Gravity), his new supervisor. An additional character is Chuck Taylor (Taylor), a vice president who is initially the direct supervisor for both Brooks and Gravity, until he reorganizes his department and has Brooks report to Gravity. When reading each case individually, you can see how each person came to their specific point of view.The case from Gravitas point of view is that she inherits an employee who is not doing enough work to meet a deadline. The case from Brooks’ point of view is that he has had unreasonable demands made of him immediately after a demotion.
Each person committed perceptive errors due to shortcuts in judgment and made assumptions based on biases that led to incorrect decisions. This paper will examine the assumptions Gravity and Brooks each made about the other, and at what stage of their working relationship the assumptions were determined.Analysis of the Jensen Shoes Case will explore specific perception and bias errors made by each person. Finally, using knowledge of perception and individual decision making, suggestions as to how Gravity and Brooks could eve reacted better to the situation will follow. Analysis Brooks’ Assumptions Brooks initially assumed, based on his work with Gravity in committees, that Gravity would be a good change of pace from Taylor because she would be more reasonable. Brooks felt that Taylor had been unreasonable because Taylor did not support Brooks with appropriate staffing or time to achieve his strategic objectives.Brooks’ assumption, in his mind, was proven incorrect after the initial roll meeting and his subsequent one-on-one meeting with Gravity.
In the initial roll meeting, Gravity revealed that she had assigned Brooks the same two markets he was assigned by Taylor: the Latino and African American vertical markets. Brooks felt that Gravity stereotyped him by assigning these markets to him without discussing it with him first, which is a partially accurate assumption: Gravity assigned him the markets not because he is African American but because he did them for Taylor and she assumes he knows them well.Brooks’ partially correct assumption causes him to lose respect for Gravity and behave in a less motivated manner.
In the subsequent one-on-one meeting, Gravity demurred about changing Brooks’ assignment until after he completed his special project. Brooks assumed that Gravity was simply being unreasonable, which was an accurate assumption, and further motivated Brooks to look for a way out of the situation. Later in the relationship, Gravity asked matter-of-faculty “Are you saying that you don’t think you’ll be able to carry the load? , but Brooks did not answer with a simple “no”, and Gravity moved to end the conversation without changing Brooks’ goals.
Brooks assumed he had been successful in maintaining Gravity as a potential ally and job reference, and did begin working on his special reject, but did not get any closer to starting on his strategic objectives. Gravity’s Assumptions Gravity’s initial assumption was that Brooks was a potential star in the company and that with her leadership Brooks could excel.Early on in their relationship, Gravity handed Brooks a difficult workload: two strategic objectives in addition to the special project he was already tasked with completing. Her assumption Was that he could handle the workload despite the additional project, and that a combination of praise/begging/cajoling could motivate him to finish all his tasks on time. Gravity also assumed that Brooks was fully versed in the company culture and Tailor’s personal style, which included a relentless focus on achieving the strategic objectives.In fact, Taylor was unhappy with Brooks’ performance thus far and reassigned Brooks to work with Gravity in order for Brooks to learn his way around the company.
Gravity’s assumptions regarding Brooks’ understanding of the culture, her assumption that he had the knowledge to handle the workload, and her assessment of his intrinsic motivation led to assumption errors that influenced her to give Brooks more leeway than was appropriate. As the legislations began to deteriorate, it became obvious that Brooks was not focused on the strategic objectives, yet Gravity maintained the erroneous assumptions about his knowledge and motivation.Only after the evidence outweighed her bias did Gravity become blunt with Brooks about his prospects within the company. However, she chose to be direct because she assumed that it would motivate him to work harder, but instead it prompted him to look for other job opportunities outside of the company. Perception and Decision Errors Gravity committed the first perception error when she stereotyped Brooks by signing him the African American and Latino markets without communicating with him.The case is unclear whether she actually assigned the role based on his race or because those were his assigned areas in his previous job, but the context implies it was because of Brooks’ prior work and assumed expertise. In either case, Brooks perceived that she stereotyped him based on his race as he felt he did not have quality experience in those markets. Gravity also fell prey to the halo effect when she judged Brooks’ professional abilities.
Gravity found Brooks very professional and very harming while working together in committees.These feelings led her to think that in the right situation and with the right motivation, he could be a star, without considering his previous work history. In addition to the halo effect, Gravity could be considered to have committed a form of Fundamental Attribution Error by erroneously attributing Brooks’ prior failures to internal effects (a lack of motivation) instead of external effects, such as inadequate resources (as Brook believed) or inadequate training regarding how to juggle multiple objectives, or even in understanding the Latino or African American arrest.Regarding Brooks’ capabilities, Gravity dismissed the warning she received from Taylor about Brooks, in a case of selective perception. Although Taylor was “less than enthusiastic,” and Brooks had received sub- par performance reviews for about three years in the company, Gravity dismissed these concerns by presuming Taylor was “quick to judge” and resolving that she could motivate Brooks using superior management skills. After all, Gravity knew herself to be a good manager.She had been in some challenging situations, but had succeeded and knew how to cajole, nurture, ND beg direct; in other words, do whatever it took to get the job done. In this way Gravity combined selective perception with overconfidence bias.
On the other hand, Tailor’s negative feedback and the initial conflict between Brooks and Gravity in the Phase 3 meeting discussed above, coupled with the conflict they had in Phase 5 created a primacy/regency effect in Gravity’s perception.The two conflicts straddle a period of relative cooperation while Brooks worked on the special project. Due to her high opinion of his abilities, Gravity gave Brooks arguably a larger workload than his peers and also gave IM free rein initially to complete the special project. She did not press him for a detailed plan, as she originally asked each of her subordinates. Gravity displayed a lack Of consistency in managing Brooks by not following up for updates for a long period of time, but then asking for detailed updates after there had been conflict.
She asked Brooks and the others for detailed updates in her initial meeting, but did not follow up with Brooks until after the San Diego trip discussion. Even in light of evidence that he was not on board with his strategic objectives, she agreed to let him conduct the special project n environmental consumer buying trends first because she thought it would give him motivation to complete the two assigned strategic objective proposals. However, she never explicitly stated that the strategic objectives must be a higher priority than the special project.As it became increasingly apparent that Brooks had no motivation to complete the strategic objectives and in fact felt that it would be impossible for him to do so, Gravity repeatedly ignored the evidence and held on to her initial, unsubstantiated assumption that Brooks “just needed the right motivation” to get on track, in an example f both anchoring (relying too much on initial information and discounting new information) and escalation of commitment (she did not want to admit she had been wrong originally).Brooks began a string of perception and decision errors, including selective perception, in his initial meeting with Gravity. He did well by mentioning his concerns, but by the end of the meeting he had retreated from his stance without resolving his concerns. His retreat was an example of risk aversion: by pressing the issue further he risked admitting he could not do the assignments, which would be humiliating and could ultimately lead to him losing his job.
Additionally, Brooks dismissed Gravity’s coaching and help with his special environmental project.He attributed all success to himself, in an example of self-serving bias. Prescriptions for a better working relationship The most important change would have been a more honest conversation about Brooks’ expertise and intrinsic motivation at the beginning of the relationship, which could have either ended the relationship before time was wasted by both people, or could have pushed both of them on a path to mutual success. Starting with the first meeting, a focus on goals should have en established between Gravity and Brooks.Gravity should have discussed the priorities with Brooks and considered giving him choice regarding which goals to pursue, or at least have built credibility by explaining the goal assignments.
Gravity should have stated explicitly that the most important, overriding goal was the completion of the strategic objectives. Clearly the creation of the strategic objectives was important throughout the com pans. The strategic objectives assigned to the team were part of a company desire to lift sales and were important to its continued survival. Instead of allowingBrooks to complete the special project first, Gravity could have increased her options in a number of ways. Gravity could have gone to the vice president to determine if the special project held as much weight as the strategic objectives. If she determined they did not, Gravity could have had Brooks complete the proposals first and then work on the project.
Another alternative would allow for Brooks completing the strategic objectives drafts first, giving Gravity time to review and edit while Brooks started the special project. Instead, Gravity allowed for Brooks to determine his role and what work he was going to do and when.After the phase 3 meeting, Brooks felt that he had been overwhelmed due to three huge assignments with unrealistic deadlines, put into a stereotyped role due to his ethnicity, and given few options for advancement within the organization.
At that time, Brooks should have proactively looked for information to discomfort his beliefs and correct his point of view, or at least he should have been completely clear to Gravity about his concerns. Gravity should not have lavished excessive praise onto Brooks after the special environmental project.Brooks perceived this praise as so over-the-top that he was “somewhat embarrassed”.
Gravity also should have consulted with Taylor before making her assessment. She could have had a productive debate with Taylor before either of them communicated any feedback to Brooks, and avoided the obvious inconsistency that became apparent to Brooks. After Brooks delivered what he thought was a success, as defined by Gravity and Brooks, with the special environmental project, Brooks understandably felt disappointed that Tailor’s feedback was totally different than Gravity’s.He felt betrayed when Jane didn’t openly take his side. That time, Brooks should have spoken with Gravity to find out the facts before making his session to propose the San Diego trip.
Conclusion Both Jane Gravity and Lyndon Brooks entered into their working relationship with optimistic expectations, but their personal conflict and subsequent perceptual and decision making errors quickly impaired their work relationship and productivity.Gravity should neither have let Tailor’s negative comments influence her first impression of Brooks nor neglected to discuss her perception with Brooks initially and get his side of the story. Gravity received responsibility for an employee who had already been repeatedly disappointed by the organization, but failed to change his path from that Of money who would not be productive and would leave the company. When Brooks joined Jensen Shoes he was looking for a job where he could “quickly move up the ladder. Brooks had his first disappointment when he learned that Taylor had set Brooks’ goals without consulting him, and subsequently given inadequate resources, which assisted in the environment causing Brooks to failed at achieving his strategic objectives (along with everyone else in the department). Later, Brooks was placed into what he felt was a position assigned to him based on a stereotype and that would not lead to achieving is career goals. Once again his assignment was made without his input, as Gravity failed to consult any of her subordinates prior to making the assignments.
Then, Gravity ignored Brooks’ entreaties to change his work environment into one where he would feel motivated and successful. Brooks missed an opportunity to work with a new supervisor, Gravity, and change the downward spiral in his career path with Jensen Shoes. If Brooks wanted to stay with Jensen Shoes, he needed to work harder, even an extraordinary amount, to achieve his objectives, or else he should have been open with Gravity about his disappointment and intentions not to complete his assignments.