Dana Ericson, the head of HR for Shady Palms, Inc., was amused by the conversation drifting over the planter that separated the two booths in the employee cafeteria. She recognized the voices on the other side as those of Eric Falk, Greg Holden, and Isaac Johnson. The three were involved in a heated discussion about the opening of the NFL season one week away and the continued holdout of the local team’s star quarterback.
“Hey, if he can hold out for a $30 million dollar contract, I say more power to him. He’s worth it,” Isaac announced “I say …”
“The guy already has millions,” Eric cut in. “He got it last year as a rookie, for heaven’s sake. He’s a selfish jerk. His selfishness is making everyone, the fans, the owner, probably the other players, angry.”
“Yeah, and what about those other players who have been there, winning games for us for years?” Greg asked. “They get us in the playoffs year after year, and then here comes this guy who’s been there one season, one season, and he’s going to get millions or he won’t play. Well, that really breaks my heart.”
“Just be glad that Julie McCoy knows nothing about professional football or that you can make demands like that, or she’ll hit up this company,” Eric remarked, breaking the tension at the table by making everyone laugh.
On the other side of the planter, Dana Ericson was not laughing.
Julie McCoy followed a life-long desire to emigrate to the United States. Dana was part of the team that had lured Julie from U.S. rival Sunny Palms to take a sales position with Shady Palms. Capturing Julie was considered a real coup in the world of palm tree farming. Long considered the biggest players in the industry, the companies farmed palm trees, distributed them, and held large contracts with real estate development firms throughout the U.S. and Caribbean. Shady Palms’ values the cultural understanding Julie has of the Caribbean marketplace, and her existing relationships to build upon.
To capture such a high-profile salesperson, Dana was the first to admit the company had given in more than usual on wage and other job perks. Julie had skipped the regular salary in order to receive straight commissions on sales—an arrangement that had been made by her previous employer. The arrangement was unusual but, the team thought, a necessary step in luring Julie away from Sunny Palms. In addition, as a native of Bermuda with the habit of driving on the left-hand side of the road, Julie’s unfamiliarity with American driving conditions, particularly in congested metropolitan areas, resulted in the unusual arrangement of allowing her office assistant to also serve as a driver on various occasions, particularly when she was out of town. While working in the company headquarters, however, she took the Brightline to work and made use of Tri-Rail or shared rides. Still, there was a rumble of discontent among employees about Princess Julie and royal treatment.
“Her sales are a huge percentage and she’s made a tremendous difference in the year since her arrival. She really is worth the trouble,” Dana told company vice president Kirk Lewis. “But she has come to me to suggest raising her commission—substantially—and I just don’t know. But I think you and I and the executive team need to discuss this.”
“I agree,” he said. “I think they will bend within reason. … ”
“But the problem here, I believe, will be the reaction of other employees,” Dana said. “I hear a lot about Princess Julie and royal treatment, and comparisons to how those who have put in the years here are not getting the same respect as the rookie, to borrow a sports analogy. So the question is, do we give in or stand firm?”
“Knowing she can always move over to Sunny Palms” Kirk added. “There’s a risk either way, so we have to explore our options before we bring all of the parties together to hash this thing out.”
What theories of motivation help explain Julie’s demands and the reactions of other employees to those demands?
What other options exist for handling Julie’s demand for even higher commissions? Why?
How might Dana Ericson in HR deal with employee morale in light of the extremely high pay demanded by a star salesperson?