W. Earl Sasser
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Six weeks after his promotion to advanced market development specialist, Roger Clarke realized that he was in trouble. The glowing reports and forecasts that had provided the momentum for his predecessor’s promotion to marketing manager were either overly optimistic or outright fabrications. There was no chance of meeting the 6-month or 12-month goals unless Clarke continued the creative accounting and report writing so bril1ianty engineered by Brad Carter, who was now his boss. In fact, as he reread a memorandum from Carter to Conrad Dawson, the group vice president, he was convinced that Carter was building a case to fire him.
PATH TO ADVANCED MARKET DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
Roger Clarke was born in 1948 in a small midwestern town. Of modest fmancial means, he worked his way through Indiana State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in engineering management at the age of 22. His first job after college was in a sales capacity with IBM. Clarke compiled an outstanding sales record and was recruited to Universal Computers in March 1973 to assume a sales representative’s position for the securities industry group in the Chicago office. In Clarke’s mind, the opportunities to advance rapidly at Universal appeared outstanding.
In July 1973, Clarke made a well-received presentation to Robert Simmons, the national sales manager, and Conrad Dawson, the group vice president, during a regional meeting. Shortly thereafter, during a 4-week training program at group headquarters in New York, Clarke asked Conrad Dawson to promote him to market development specialist, stating that “most of the market development specialists are not qualified to carry my briefcase.” At the end of a 6-hour dinner, the group vice president gave Roger his blessing and promoted him to the position of advanced marketing development specialist assigned to group headquarters in New York City. The group’s organizational structure is depicted in Exhibit 1. The promotion had been a double advancement because it normally took a marketing development specialist several years in the field to obtain the advanced status. All other market development specialists were in their early to mid-thirties. The advanced market development specialist in the other region was 40 years old; Clarke was only 25. His salary was $27,000, a 50 percent improvement over his previous salary.
Clarke had direct responsibility for the three market development specialists in his region. They, in turn, had “dotted-line” responsibility for the sales representatives in their districts. Clarke reported to Brad Carter, the marketing manager of securities industry group. Carter had recently been promoted from the position Clarke assumed.
After the promotion had become effective on September 10, Clarke had spent a week with his boss in New York City, making a whirlwind tour of brokerage firm clients. The next week he had spent the majority of his time getting to know most of the New York sales representatives of the securities industry group and making introductory sales calls with a few salespeople. He had spent the next 2 weeks visiting brokerage firms in New York and visiting sales offices in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston, where he met local sales representatives and clients. He also participated, along with the eight other marketing specialists and Brad Carter, in a marketing plan review for 1974. Clarke recalled the hectic nature of the first month in his new position, “Besides meeting all the sales representatives and clients during this period, I was in the process of buying a house on Long Island, getting married (on September 21), and arranging to move my possessions from Chicago to Long Island.”
EXHIBIT 1. Roger Clarke — organization chart, the securities industry group.
*There are two advanced market development specialists (one for each region) and seven market development specialists (one for each district). Roger Clarke was advanced market development specialist for the New York- Philadelphia-Boston region.
**There are seven technical specialists (one for each district).
MEETING WITH THE MARKETING MANAGER
On October 15, 1973, Roger Clarke met with Brad Carter for 2 hours to discuss his perfonnance to date. Quite to Clarke’s surprise, Carter had prepared a list of problems he had had with Clarke’s performance in the first month on the job. The day after the meeting, Carter had written a memorandum to Dawson, who had promoted Clarke, outlining the points covered in the meeting; he had also sent a copy to Clarke (Exhibit 2).
EXHIBIT 2. CARTER’S MEMORANDUM TO DAWSON
October 19, 1973 Personal and Confidential
TO: C. S. Dawson
SUBJECT: Roger Clarke’s Performance
Since Clarke’s commencement as a market development specialist on September 10, 1973, a number of incidents have reflected unfavorably upon his performance. We had discussed most of these incidents as they occurred, but I felt it necessary to meet with him on October 15, 1973 to review all my displeasures with his performance and chart a positive course for the future. The following is a summary of our approximately 2-hour discussion.
I told Roger I was not at all pleased with his performance to date and that we would be watching him closely over the next 30 days with the expectation of marked improvement. We reviewed a number of problems including the following:
1. Reports of Roger being pompous and a “smart ass.” I indicated that I supported those descriptions. We discussed these impressions in some detail and how to change them.
2. Failure to let our office know where he is when he changes plans. Discussed the importance of his whereabouts and the fact that he is not free to drastically change his plans without my knowledge. For example, on October 12, the Philadelphia office and I were trying to locate him. His itinerary said Philadelphia office. At 3 p.m. he called from Boston and said he was there because “there was nothing to do in Philadelphia.” He did not have two assignments ready for me that were due that day. He had left Philadelphia on the evening of October 11. In his behalf, he did leave a note at the Philadelphia office describing his plans.
3. Trouble with Small World Travel. The negative information came from my secretary, Rena, in an incident on October 4, 1973. Roger was upset with certain travel arrangements made for him. He had called Small World to express his displeasure, and they called Rena back to further determine Clarke’s displeasure in that they had booked him on the flights we requested. Rena reports he grabbed the phone from her, complained further, and hung up. We discussed the fact that we had never had any particular problems with this agency and valued our cooperative relationship. It was not his place to be so heavy handed in this situation. He said he preferred to use his own air travel card in the future and not to deal with a travel agent. I agreed, but will reverse my decision and advise him that my signature on ticket advance forms is, in effect, my required approval of his travel plans. I know of no one else in marketing who does not work in this manner, so he is not being singled out.
4. Does not follow up on requested information. Several incidents here, but the major ones are as follows. First, on September 27, I asked him to check why Dean Witter had not purchased our equipment. After approximately three reminders, I still have not received a good answer. A visit t6 Dean Witter is now planned.
Secondly, on or about September 20, I requested the status of Merrill Lynch. The only answer I ever received was he would check into it next week.
Next, on September 27, I requested organizational charts for the operations function at several major brokerage houses. His reply at that time was that he “doesn’t see the reason to have these.” I told him they were important, explained why, and still never received them.
5. Perhaps Clarke was playing the devil’s advocate, but he appeared very negative in the marketing plan review meeting on September 28.
I would say that Roger accepted and discussed this criticism in a humble and constructive manner. Plans to alter or correct the previous five problems are as follows:
1. Plan constructive, positive calls when dealing with field market development specialists. Have the purpose and necessary sales aids to complete an objective. Avoid making calls simply to meet people.
2. Call the office at least once a day, preferably twice.
3. Travel plans to be arranged like everyone else. I will tell Roger not to use his air travel card, as I had previously agreed.
4. Roger now says he understands that my requests are not of a “jog-the-memory” type, but rather a request for information in my hands.
5. Says he will try to show a more positive attitude within the company while maintaining a positive attitude with outside contacts.
Roger plans to move his wife and household goods to Long Island on October 26. Perhaps a more settled home life will improve his work performance. Roger and I plan to discuss his overall performance again in mid-November.
Brad G. Carter
Securities Industry Marketing Manager
cc: Roger Clarke
After his promotion and marriage, Clarke had been in a state of euphoria. The meeting with Carter and the subsequent memorandum came as quite a shock. However, in retrospect, Clarke believed that he should have seen it coming:
I should have realized that trouble was brewing at the September 28 marketing plan review meeting. At the meeting, I was not as optimistic about the future as Carter thought I should be. However, everywhere I went, brokerage firm executives were complaining about excess computer capacity. At the meeting. Carter assigned 1974 performance commitments for all market development specialists. I expressed concern that my goals would be impossible to achieve. After the meeting, Carter called me aside and gave me a pitch on the huge growth opportunities of our market. I nodded my head but after 2 weeks visiting our customers, I had been more optimistic at the meeting than what I had seen made me want to be.
As he sat at his desk looking at the copy of Carter’s memorandum, Clarke recalled Dawson’s advice about his new position:
Conrad Dawson warned me that I was entering a political situation. He told me that Carter was not exactly overjoyed with my promotion; he had wanted to promote a market development specialist to my position.
If I have a sponsor in this organization, it has to be Conrad. He took a high risk promoting me despite Carter’s objection. However, he told me that he expected my performance, and not our relationship, to be the key to my next advancement.
Clarke acknowledged that he had not been very concerned with politics when he assumed the new position; his only concern had been with understanding his new duties as quickly as possible. But what should he do now? Should he arrange a meeting with Dawson? Should he respond in writing? Should he avoid rocking the boat and do exactly what Carter tells him even when he is convinced it is a waste of time? Should he try to move laterally to another group in Universal Computers? Should he send out his resume to other firms? These were simply a few of the questions on his mind after rereading Carter’s memorandum. Next week he, his wife, and their belongings would settle into a new house on Long Island. He thought the fall would prove rather interesting.
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