Compose a sexual harassment policy for Syntec Corporation that would address harassment issues for all employees. Next, select three (3) elements of this policy that you believe would have the greatest impact at Syntec Corporation. Justify your response.
Give your opinion as to whether or not you believe that men and women should have equal treatment in sexual harassment issues. Defend your answer with two (2) examples that support your rationale.
Suggest four (4) ways that businesses can balance the need for increased productivity with the needs and concerns of the employees. Support your rationale.
Evaluate the significance of the way Megan handled Mark’s actions. Next, propose three (3) alternative methods Megan could utilize when dealing with an employee’s actions. Justify your response.
Given your personality, hypothesize three (3) ways that you would handle the situation depicted in the case study if you were Mark. Provide support for your methodologies.
Case Study 1: Sales at Syntec Corporation
Megan Green was excited about her new sales position. She had interviewed among stiff competition for the job with Syntec Corporation and was elated to find that she was offered a position in the south-eastern territory. Unlike other sales positions for which she interviewed, Syntec offered a salary plus generous commissions and a benefit package that included healthcare and retirement benefits. Syntec was an up-andcoming software provider that sold its products across the United States. Syntec’s suite of real-time accounting software was its number-one seller, but the company also sold payroll-system software. Megan felt that Syntax was a good fit, not only because her undergraduate degree was in business administration with an emphasis on information technology, but also because she liked the informality of the company. When sales representatives were not meeting with clients, they dressed casually; the men wore khakis and dress shirts but left their ties at home, and the women wore slacks instead of dresses or business suits.
Megan’s First Several Weeks
Syntec prided itself on its sales training program for new employees. Megan would be paired with another sales representative, Mark Henderson, and her district manager, Jeff Amundson. For three weeks they poured over training manuals introducing Syntec’s products and a standard approach for demonstrating them. Over these early weeks, Megan learned to answer client questions about the software, to sell to both individuals and to committees, and to handle objections effectively. She was videotaped during various role-play situations designed to teach her how to deal with a variety of personalities and myriad products. Megan felt lucky to be paired with Mark Henderson since he had already had sales jobs in the software industry and was clearly more experienced than she was. He was taking the training primarily because he was required to learn Syntec’s products and Syntec’s way of selling. Mark, a 26-yearold, had a background similar to Megan; he had attended a state university in the Midwest, graduating with a degree in business.
Jeff Amundson had been present in the final stage of her interviews and he seemed genuine about wanting Megan to succeed with the company. He was in his mid-30s and had been with Syntec for 10 years. Jeff had trained many salespeople over the years, and his veteran trainees had spoken to Megan about how fortunate she was to have him as her immediate sales supervisor. In the last two weeks of the sales training program, Megan and Mark traveled with Jeff to observe him with clients and prospective clients. He was adept at establishing immediate rapport with prospects and converted approximately 50% of them into clients. Megan kept track of questions clients asked and how Jeff responded to them. With her notebook of questions about technical support, product costs, licensing, computer upgrades, and compatibility with other programs, she felt prepared to handle queries that might come up. After these client meetings, Jeff, Mark, and Megan would de-brief each situation over drinks and dinner in their hotel. All three typically repaired to the hotel bar, where they reviewed their day. Megan was careful to only have one drink (she wanted to maintain an image of professionalism), while Jeff and Mark had several and remained in the bar well after she left at about 10 p.m.
Back at the Sales Office
Back at the office, Jeff was busy with the rest of his team: five men in their twenties and thirties. Megan was not the only female sales representative, but she was the only woman on
Jeff’s team. Cynthia Johnson, Pam Peterson, and Divia Patel were on different teams, reporting to other district sales managers. She had not had much contact with these women only because she had been so busy with her training schedule. When things slowed down a bit, she intended to invite them to lunch and compare their training to her experiences.
After the training had finished, Jeff scheduled a meeting with Megan and Mark to let them know that he was comfortable having them go out on calls without his supervision. As he put it, “Burn up the territory and meet your monthly sales quota in the first two weeks! You two are definitely ready to start making some real money.”
Because many of Syntec’s prospects were located in Atlanta, he suggested that they schedule a trip there to make their first calls together. Megan and Jeff decided that they would travel together, but call on prospects separately. Both of them wanted to test out their own sales skills without possible intervention from the other. In addition, both felt this was a better use of their time and neither wanted to split commissions if they did manage to sell something. Megan and Jeff agreed that, at the end of each day, they would meet to discuss how their sales calls went and to share anything that they had learned.
The Atlanta Trip
After the first long day of sales calls, Megan felt encouraged. With her rental car, she had navigated the city well and met with three potential customers: the first a hospital administrator; the second the manager of a large hotel chain; and the third a director of a conference center. She was eager to swap stories with Mark and to find out what sort of experiences he had had. After a quick shower and a change out of her business suit into more comfortable clothing, she met Mark in the hotel restaurant. They sat down to a leisurely dinner and then retired to the hotel bar.
“Wow, you look great in a pair of jeans. A lot more relaxed,” Mark said.
“I feel more relaxed. What a day! I’m pretty upbeat but I’m glad it’s over.”
“OK, so tell me how it went,” Mark said.
Megan began a brief summary of her first call. “I felt very confident with the hotel manager. I knew the software well and I was right on with suggestions for how to deal with his data-management problems. At the start of the call, I was worried that he wasn’t giving me his full attention. You know, grabbing the phone every few minutes to take calls. Then I asked if we could find a conference room where he wouldn’t be interrupted. He agreed. From that point, I really think he liked the product and our approach. Anyway, I didn’t close him. He has to go through his IT manager, but I think I am at least halfway there. He thinks we can probably do a follow-up via a conference call in about a week.
“The call with the hospital administrator was tougher. I really don’t know his business that well. Aside from getting my appendix taken out as a teenager, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hospital.”
Mark leaned across the cocktail table and touched her arm, “I’m sure you were very brave. Can I see the scar? I bet it’s as beautiful as the stomach it sits on.”
Megan withdrew her arm and tried to ignore the comment. Instead, she made light of it, “It’s too ugly for words. I wouldn’t want to put you through that. Let me tell you about this hospital guy. He kept throwing out acronyms. I had no idea what they meant so I just nodded my head, acting like I knew what he was talking about.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask him to explain them. Next time tell him that you want to learn everything about his operation. He’ll be impressed if you take notes. Besides you’re a
good-looking woman who could easily sway him. Just sit a little closer to him and wear a low-cut blouse,” Mark laughed.
As they continued to discuss their days, Mark ordered another gin and tonic, while Megan stuck to her glass of wine. She was getting helpful hints from Mark about handling client situations. She didn’t like his references to using her sexuality to sell or his comment about her stomach, but she felt awkward about saying anything.
After Megan finished talking about her calls, Mark talked about his. He had met with four customers, all business owners. He had successfully closed two of the calls; one was a “maybe” and the other a definite “no.”
He leaned over to Megan and whispered in her ear, “I don’t waste my time with someone who doesn’t want to do business with me. There are other fish to fry. Anyway, enough business talk. There’s a band playing next door. Let’s go over and check it out.”
“OK,” Megan replied.
They walked to the Elysian Fields, a dance club directly opposite the hotel. Megan enjoyed dancing, but rarely did these days, because she felt uncomfortable going into a dance club alone or even with a few women friends. It felt too much like a meat market. She and Mark danced for about half-anhour, until Megan looked at her watch and was surprised to find it read 11:00.
“Mark, I’m really tired. I think I need to get back.”
“Too bad. You’re a great dancer. I like the way you move,” Mark said.
“I have a lot of early appointments tomorrow and I really need some sleep.”
“OK, let’s meet for dinner tomorrow night, say about 7.”
“Fine,” Megan replied, “I’ll see you then.”
Megan’s Second Day of Appointments
Megan saw three prospects the next day. She had used a couple of Mark’s tips that seemed to work well. One prospect out of the three seemed genuinely ready to buy the software, but as in her experience the day before, he needed to secure approval from his boss first.
As planned, Mark and Megan reviewed their respective sales calls over dinner.
Megan began, “I felt much more confident today than I did yesterday. One guy I met with was clearly just interested in a free lunch. I don’t think his organization really needs what we can provide and he is too far down the corporate ladder to make the decision anyway. I did have a good meeting with a Director of Information Technology for a retail chain, though, and he told me that he was genuinely interested. It was a little frustrating because he needs to get approval from the Vice President of IT. This means I either have to try to do a conference call from the office or come back to Atlanta in two weeks.”
Mark thought for a moment, “OK … you need to get to the decision-makers, if at all possible, on the first call. It will improve your likelihood of a sale and it won’t waste your time.”
“How do I do that?” asked Megan.
“When you’re setting up the appointment, ask the person you are talking to if anyone else should be at the meeting. Ask the person if he or she can make the decision to buy. Be blunt. Ask them who has the authority to make the buying decision and request that they
attend the meeting. If that doesn’t work just wear a low-cut blouse,” he leaned over
towards her and laughed. “You could even wear that one and just unbutton that button there.” He pointed to the third button from the top of her blouse. She ignored his last comment, “Won’t asking them seem a little pushy?”
“Not at all. Try it.”
“Mark, I’ll see you tomorrow morning. We’ve got an early plane to catch. We need to be at the airport by 8:00 so I’ll meet you down in the lobby at 6:15.”
As she got up to go, Mark grabbed her arm and said, “We’ve been having such a good time together. Is there any chance you might want to come to my room tonight? You look like you need a little fun.”
Embarrassed, she said, “Ah, no … I’m really tired and have to get some sleep.” She rose and walked briskly toward the elevator, leaving Mark at the table.
Back at the Office
Megan was still troubled by the incident in Atlanta and felt awkward around Mark Henderson. She avoided him altogether, making sure that she parked far away from him, did not meet him in the hallway, and left after he did. She even avoided the breakroom where other sales reps ate their lunch or just chatted together. Worse still, Mark sometimes walked by her cubicle and just stared at her before moving along to talk to someone else. She wondered who she could talk to about the incident in Atlanta and her discomfort in the office. She couldn’t decide whether to confide in anyone at all.
She thought about talking to Jeff but she didn’t know how he would respond. He seemed to like Mark and they often went out for drinks together after work. As a new employee, she worried about rocking the boat and causing any kind of controversy within her district, especially because she knew Jeff Amundson was the best sales manager in the region, whose people did extremely well. All of Jeff’s people were making more money than new representatives in other districts. She was worried about whether or not they might assign her to another district if she complained. She also knew that if Jeff had to choose between a rookie salesperson like her and an experienced one like Mark, he would choose the latter. Mark was the most successful sales person in the district. She needed this job and didn’t want to put it in jeopardy in any way. On the other hand, she thought Mark had overstepped a boundary and had come on to her when she didn’t invite him to do so.
Megan knew that she had to do something; she just didn’t know what.
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