Stage 1: Problem identification

My client Michael Adams has been recently appointed as project head and is working in a laboratory in a project with photons. Michael Adams is a good worker, with projects to advance his career and a productive very person. He directly reports to Dr. Jerrolds, the head of the laboratory. Michael Adams directly supervise a team with two secretaries (Lucy Adams and Martha Smith), one mathematician (Link) and three more researchers (Michael Davenport, George Thurlow and Arthur Oliver). Adams has been recently appointed for the position he is now, and is still not totally secure about his capabilities in spite of being doing a good job and being productive. Fender has recently arrived to Adams’ project and is a smart and capable researcher, with the ability to solve complex problems. Fender has also threatened Adams leadership by disagree with the team dynamics and being capable to find solutions in areas that Adams has been unable to do so. Adams has implemented weekly meeting with all team members including secretaries in order to improve motivation and performance of team members. However, Fender is in favour of personal centred problem solution and points out that team work is a waste of time and team members put less effort on working than when working alone (McShane, 2013, p. 134-135). The problem Michael Adam is facing is the fear of loss his position as project head for the new researcher, Fender.

Stage 2: Root cause analysis

Fender, the new researcher in the laboratory is a smart person, with incredible ability to solve problems and appetence to work hard to find solutions. However, Fender seems to have a self-concept with low-complexity as he defines himself only by the work he does and fails in other competencies such as social competencies (McShane, 2013, p. 47). This has been especially seen when Fender has called Adams at 2 a.m. to inform him about his discovery. On the other hand, Adams seems to have a more complex self-concept, he is married and he likes to construct social relationships with co-workers as it can be seen by the promotion of the weekly meetings (McShane, 2013, p. 46). In the communication with Dr. Jerrolds, Adams has never mentioned the feelings of insecurity and leadership threatening he is feeling. Also, Adams has never explained Dr. Jerrolds Fender’s position about team work that strongly contrast with his own view. It can be said that Adams has attached emotional markers in the information he has received from Fender (worry, fear, insecurity). Adams has felt that Fender was threatening his position and it has contributed to a perceptual bias that lead to a fail to effectively communicate with Dr. Jerrolds about his feelings (McShane, 2013, p. 51). Adams is in his position by legitimate power, which reflects an agreement among organizational members, and Fender is threatening his position with expert power, by possessing of knowledge, skills and different values (McShane, 2013, p. 175).

Stage 3: Solution Building

The conflict generated between Adams and Fender has bring some positive aspects to laboratory, such the problem solving capacity of Fender with more creative decisions. However, there were also negative consequences such as less information sharing, more stress and dissatisfaction and weakness of team cohesion (McShane, 2013, p. 196). The conflict handling style that Adams has chosen to solve his problem was avoiding, has the conflict has become emotionally charged. However, this choice hasn’t really solved the conflict (McShane, 2013, p. 203), Adam has just moved to a different laboratory in a similar position and salary, which have increased frustration in Dr. Jerrolds and the first laboratory and photon project has become somehow lost without a head, once Fender has also left the laboratory to a different project. In order to solve Fender’s low-complexity self-concept, he should be encouraged to build more social relationships with other team members. Adams should be encouraged to effectively and openly communicate with Dr. Jerrolds about his feelings and seek to improve his leadership skills as he is new in the actual position.

Stage 4: Action planning

The action planning that will be suggested to Michael Adams aims to address the problems of two persons: Adams and Fender. To address Fender problem, it is suggested to Adams that more meetings are organized, for example once a week the team should meet for non-working related purposes. It can be a coffee break where everyone should talk about everything other than work related issues. It could also be proposed to Fender to develop a hobby or a capacity that can make him socialize more and learn other things outside work environment. To Adams it is suggested that he talks with Dr. Jerrolds about his feelings and opinions in relation to Fender. This will not be offensive to Fender, neither disqualify Adams capabilities. Adams should also discuss his position with Dr. Jerrolds and whether he is being tested. Another option Adams has to improve his skills as a leader (as he has been recently promoted to head of project) is attending advanced courses on leadership or meetings/congresses with people in similar positions. This way, Adams can get more confident about his skills and capabilities as a leader and discuss problems with persons in similar positions facing similar problems.


McShane, S., & Von Glinow, M. (2013). M Organizational Behavior. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

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