This is a true story but the names have been changed to protect, well… Harriet.
Harper is a very successful mortgage lender. He has been in the banking industry for over a decade and enjoys his field. After a few hard years starting up as a mortgage lender, he now has more than enough volume to need an assistant. His first assistant, Sarah, was great, but sadly she chose to quit after having a child. His second assistant, Harriet, was not as successful.
His first assistant, Sarah, was a go-getter. She was excited to be working for Harper. She brought a great enthusiasm to the roll and although she was new to the mortgage world, she was ready to learn and make some great commissions. She was the quintessential developmental level four (D4), as she was willing and able to take on this new job (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5). She breezed through training and had no problem bringing innovation to Harper so he could focus on making more deals, attending closings, and actually enjoying nights and weekends without being glued to his laptop. He delegated tasks to Sarah and she had no problem completing the tasks and finding new things to do to help Harper achieve his lending goals, such as posting their VA lending details on military relocation groups on Facebook and ordering exciting closing gifts for his clients. Harper did not get involved with Sarah’s goal achievement and did not get heavily involved with her personal life. He enjoyed his delegating behavior and her D4 follower status (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5). It seemed to be a great balance and Harper was very sad to hear that she wasn’t coming back after the birth of her daughter. His style was middle-of-the-road management, which is a balance of tasks and relationships. He preferred to avoid conflicts between Sarah and the other assistants, and while he knew that she was possibly going through a divorce and difficult pregnancy, he was not comfortable bringing that dynamic into their office relationship. He preferred to exchange pleasantries and discussions on the weather, than hear about drama occurring in her life. These middle-of-the-road managers want moderate levels of production and interpersonal relationships, which was a great situation for Sarah and Harper because he is so results driven. (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5)
After Sarah left, Harper had a difficult time finding a new assistant that was as detailed oriented as Sarah. Upon recommendation from his former assistant who is now a local bank branch manager, he hired Harriet. Harriet received more detailed training than Sarah not only from Harper but also the loan processing staff and underwriters upon Harper’s request. He was trying to get another Sarah working for him. Sadly, Harriet was not up to the task of being another Sarah, and in fact was not a good fit as his assistant at all. She was D2 follower status, where she was unable to complete the tasks, she unwilling to learn despite multiple training opportunities, and definitely was not confident in completing tasks (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5). He started with middle-of-the-road management with Harriet but over time he moved more towards impoverished management. He had invested so much time and training into Harriet without seeing any results. Harper even sat Harriet down to ask if he enjoyed working for him, what he could do to help her grasp what was needed for the position, and that she had two weeks to decide if this is the right position for her or not. After that conversation and she did not improve, he wasn’t concerned with the tasks that he assigned her or and there was no interpersonal relationship, including small talk in phone calls and office visits. As the impoverished manager, he became very laissez-faire about her entire employment, and became non-committal whenever she asked about future files. He became very resigned and apathetic whenever she would text him with file updates because he knew that the work was done incorrectly and he was going to have to redo a majority of every file she touched (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5). Sadly, coaching Harriet with a high-directive and high-supportive style needed for a D2 employee (PSU WC, 2018 L. 5) was not conducive for what Harper needed in an assistant or what he could supply as a manager due to the nature of his business. He even commented that he wasn’t sure what she did throughout the day when he wasn’t there to give her written instruction on how to do something he had trained her on during her first week of employment.
Sadly, the leader and follower dynamic did not work out between Harriet and Harper. Due to the restrictions on Harper’s time, he had a specific style of leadership behavior that was necessary for him to excel at his position and while Harriet did not do well under this style of leadership, Sarah flourished. Harper had to fire Harriet on Friday but thankfully, Sarah has decided that she missed working with Harper and has decided to come back as his assistant in two weeks. It’s unclear who is happier about Sarah’s return: Sarah, Harper, or Harper’s girlfriend who had to listen to the whole drama unfold.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2018). PSYCH 485 Lesson 5: Style and situational approaches. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942231/modules/items/25010808