Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Medallion Consulting: The Case of the Problem Employee

Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Medallion Consulting: The Case of the Problem Employee

Article excerpt

Would I ever have a business where we have employees again? Absolutely Not ... As the owner of the business, you become a lightning rod for criticism. You bear the burden of developing (company) policies, enforcing the policies, and taking the grief when people don't like it. It's exhausting ... The whole hassle of dealing with employees--especially problem employees like Tom--I would not embrace that again, and neither would my husband.

Jackie Smith* reminisced about her experience as the owner of Medallion Consulting Inc.**, a small consulting firm founded with husband and co-owner Peter*. Initially functioning as a two-person team, Medallion Consulting expanded its workforce in the late-1990s to accommodate growing demand for its services. But with employees came employee problems, and Peter and Jackie found that employee misconduct and discipline occupied ever-increasing amounts of time and energy. This was particularly true when engineer Thomas Curran joined the firm. Although Curran had seemed like an ideal employee during his six-month probationary period, his subsequent employment was marred by policy violations, questionable customer service, uncooperativeness, and insubordination, culminating in what Jackie and Peter viewed as a baseless claim for unemployment compensation. During his stay at the firm, Curran's behavior undermined the professionalism, camaraderie, and teamwork that Jackie and Peter had carefully cultivated in the company, decreasing the morale and productivity of co-workers and owners alike.

Jackie sighed as she reflected on her experiences with Thomas. In retrospect, the need to address Curran's misconduct and "nip it in the bud" seemed clear. But at the time, Jackie and Peter did little to discipline their wayward employee; when Curran eventually left the firm, he did so voluntarily. Although several years had passed since Curran terminated his employment, many aspects of the situation still puzzled her. Were there warning signs about Curran's behavior that she had missed early in his tenure with the company? What sort of disciplinary action should she have taken, and when? Could the unemployment case have been avoided? And why had she and Peter been so hesitant to address Curran's misconduct?

Medallion Consulting: Company History and Overview

Medallion Consulting is a Rochester, New York-based process design and project management consulting firm specializing in the food industry. Medallion advises food manufacturers on the selection, integration, placement, and installation of food processing and packaging equipment. A processing plant typically includes production and packaging equipment built by many equipment manufacturers. Because these machines are independently designed, they often require a third party to coordinate equipment design details among the various vendors. Such coordination integrates equipment into a seamless production process within the plant. Careful selection, placement, and installation of equipment in new or remodeled processing plants helps construction stay on schedule and on or under budget. Because equipment manufacturers did not offer these services, food manufacturers often hired consulting firms with expertise in process design and continuous process control technologies to assist them.

The company's founder and President, Peter Smith, had considerable industry experience with the design, integration, and placement of industrial equipment in new production facilities. In 1987, Peter was working on a contingent basis for Kraft Foods, advising the company on equipment needs for a new production plant in Avon, New York. The positive feedback received from Kraft personnel, coupled with the knowledge that he could earn far more as an independent contractor, spurred him to found Medallion Consulting with wife and Vice President of Operations, Jackie. As word of Medallion's expertise spread, the firm secured contracts from clients ranging from small- and medium-sized co-packers to top U. …

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