An Uncouth Marketing Plan: Answers

Recap: Comfort Office is looking to hire a new VP of marketing. Sal Delmonico, a marketing manager at Comfort’s main competitor, Function Furniture, saw his chance to finally move up in the industry.

Delmonico was passed over for a promotion twice, so after learning about the VP position he spent the afternoon drafting a proposal for how he would use his experience and insider knowledge to give Comfort an advantage over Function. He accidentally printed a second copy of the document, which he unknowingly left behind. A colleague found it, shared it with others, and the buzz made it to Lizette Brown, SVP of sales and marketing for Function, who then had to decide what to do next.

Click here to read the complete challenge.

August winner: Carlos Miranda Durand, revenue science fellow, FedEx

Delmonico should be let go. His letter demonstrates lack of integrity and trustworthiness.

First, Brown should seek legal counsel. Confirm that the letter provides legal ground for termination and determine what steps should be followed, which should include dissuading Delmonico from using any internal, proprietary, or confidential information to the advantage of competitors.

Second, she should communicate the decision to Delmonico. Don’t be harsher than necessary, but express disappointment in Delmonico’s behavior.

Third, Brown needs to manage the impact on the rest of the organization. This case will be a distraction for a little while (and that’s OK). Let people process the events, learn from them, and then focus everybody’s attention on the exciting things that the future holds for them at Function. Communicate the essential facts of the case so that people know that Comfort treated Delmonico fairly and that this measure was appropriate. That will reduce the impact of any inaccurate rumors or negative perceptions. Let people ask questions. Make this an example from which people can learn values such as integrity,  loyalty, hard work, patience, etc.

Other responses:

Nel Waldron, mailing services coordinator, Coffey Communications Inc.

If Delmonico already has other strikes against him, let him go. If, however, he has been a good and loyal—if now frustrated—employee for the past 10 years, he deserves an honest conversation about why he has been passed over for promotion; how and why he’s valued at Function Furniture; and where and how far management sees him rising within the company. If the outlined trajectory isn’t going to be enough for him, then he may well decide to leave anyway. If he stays, he needs to be disciplined for using company time and resources for working on his proposal for Comfort Office.

If Delmonico leaves the company, Brown will need to address the situation with the rest of her team, simply because in this situation more people know more than they should about it. Without violating Delmonico’s privacy, she’ll need to let them know that he left (or was fired) not for seeking to advance, which is or should always be encouraged, but because he did it in a way that hurt the company. She should use this opportunity to encourage employees to always talk directly with their supervisor or with HR if they have frustrations or concerns. They should not be using work time to look for other jobs.

Peter Mendelson, Binder and Binder

Sal needs to go…today. His behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated by Brown or Function Furniture.

After security escorts him out, HR should discuss with the marketing team the serious ramifications of providing insider knowledge to a competitor—or anyone.

In a quiet moment, Brown should review what happened over the past 10 years that caused Delmonico to be overlooked numerous times leading to his ultimate dissention. She should redouble her efforts to put in place a six-month touch base and an annual review with each associate. This way there could be no misunderstanding with an associate who was deemed not to be promotable. This type of honest communication is essential.

Michael Thomas, customer success manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft

My suggestion for Brown’s approach is two-phased with the purpose of not only addressing the situation at hand, but also how it can be leveraged to for the better of Function.

Brown should:

  • Take the approach of what is the issue, what is the source of Delmonico’s frustration? What is this revealing about Function’s employees, management, culture, customers, and competition?
  • Bring in HR and understand Delmonico’s employment history, performance, career goals. How did the situation get to the point of frustration?
  • Solicit feedback from other employees and management on potential, similar frustration and actions at Function.

Brown also should meet with Delmonico to:

  • Stress the serious nature of his willingness to share inside knowledge.
  • Remind him of Function’s ethics policies and gain his agreement on a more appropriate direction for moving forward.
  • Allow Delmonico to rewrite his proposal, but address it to Brown with how he would contribute the same ideas to Function. Commit to give him honest feedback and gain his commitment to participate in making agreed-upon improvements.
  • Get feedback from Delmonico on the source of his frustration. Ask for his input on how Function can improve its policies and process for nurturing and guiding employees along their career paths.
  • Commit to ensuring that Delmonico and his manager have a set plan for a career development path for helping him work towards his career goals.

Regardless of the result there can be a positive outcome that will strengthen Function Furniture as an organization.

Bill Chambers

Brown’s colleague is about to defect to a competitor. Unless she is married to Delmonico (which she’s not), it is clear that he is already essentially a competitor and must be treated as such. And, until Delmonico actually leaves his current job, he is to be treated as a corporate spy. If Brown does not share her knowledge of the situation, or report Delmonico to the head of the company, she is just as much of a traitor.

The only excuse for not reporting Delmonico is if Brown profoundly and deservedly abhors her employer and will be happy to leave, as well. In fact, at that point, she might want to suggest to Delmonico that he give her a recommendation at Comfort Office and that she will keep mum in exchange. He will owe her one.

Related Posts