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Case Study A- What to Do About Louie
Louie is the manager of a Mighty Brake service center in the Grand Lakes Regions of the United States. The centers offer a wide range of services for vehicles including muffler and exhaust system replacement, brake systems, oil change, lubrication, tune-ups, and state inspection. Louie's branch is located close to a busy highway, yet stores and residential neighborhood are also close by. His store is among the chain's highest-volume and most profitable able units.
Management at Mighty Muffler is pleased with the financial management of Louie's store, yet complaints have surfaced about aspects of his relationships with employees and customers. Emma, the human resources and customer services for the company was recently poring over the results from customer satisfaction cards mailed back to the company. She found that a few of the customer comments suggested that Louie might have made some inappropriate comments, as reflected in the following feedback:
"You did a wonderful job replacing my brakes and fixing a rattle in my exhaust system. But the manager insulted me a little by suggesting that I talk over with my husband about whether to get a new exhaust system now." " I have no complaints about the repairs you made or the price you charged. However, you better replace that manager of yours. He is definitely out of touch with the times. My partner and I are proud of our gayness. So we don't attempt to hide occasional public displays of affection. When your manager saw me giving my partner a light kiss on the cheek, he asked if we were from San Francisco."
‘When I came back to pick up my car, I had to wait two hours even though I was told the car would Be ready by 3p.m. I also found some smudge marks on the beige leather seats. When I complained To the manager, he said, "Granny, watch your blood pressure. It's not good for a senior citizen to get excited." I was never so insulted."
Concerned about the comments, Emma scheduled a trip to Louie's store to investigate any possible problems he might be having in managing cultural diversity among customers and employees. Emma explained to Louie that the home office likes to make periodic trips to stores to see how well employee relations are going, and how well employees are working together. Louie responded, "Talk to anybody you want. I may joke a little with the boys and girls in the shop, but we all get along great."
In Emma's mind, her informal chats with workers at Louie's Mighty Muffler suggested that employee relations were generally satisfactory, but she did find a new troublesome comments. A young African American noted that when he does something particularly well, or Louie agrees with him strongly, Louie gives him a high five. In contrast, Caucasian or Latino workers will receive a congratulatory handshake or fist bump respectively.
A woman break technician said that Louie is a kind-hearted boss but that he is sometimes patronizing without realizing it. She volunteered this incident: "During breaks I sometimes enter the waiting room area because we have a vending machine up front that sells small bags of nuts and raisins, which I particularly like. One day, I was about to enter the waiting room when Louie tells me to stay in the back. He said that there was a Hell's Angels- type gut waiting for his truck to be repaired, and he probably wouldn't appreciate it if he thought that a "girl" was working on hi struck. How could anybody be that sexist in today's world?"
Emma went back to the home office to discuss her findings with the CEO and the vice president of administration. Emma said that Louie is making a contribution to the firm, but that some changes needed to be made. The two other executives agreed that Louie should become a little more multi-cultural, but that they didn't want to upset him too much because he could easily join a competitor. Emma concluded, "So I guess we need to figure out what to do about Louie."