Heather Lopez is a product development specialist at a telecommunications company. For the past seven years she has worked as a member of a product development team composed of people from five different departments within the company. Heather previously worked full time In the marketing department. Her primary responsibilities were to research the market potential of an idea for a new product. The product development team is now working on a product that will integrate a company’s printers and copiers.
Heather’s previous position in the marketing department was a satisfactory fit for her lifestyle. Heather thought she was able to take care of her family responsibilities and her job without sacrificing one for the other. As Heather explains, “ I worked about 45 predictable hours in my other job. My hours were essentially 8:30 am to 4:30 pm with a little work at night and on Saturdays at home.
“Brad, my husband, and I had a smooth-working arrangement for sharing the responsibility for getting our son, Christopher off the school and picking him up from the after-school child-care center. Brad is a devoted accountant, so he understands the importance of giving high priority to a career yet still being a good family person.
In her new position as a member of the product development team, Heather is encountering some unanticipated demands. Three weeks ago, at 3pm on a Tuesday, Tyler Watson, Heather’s team leader, announced an emergency meeting to discuss a budget problem with the new product. The meeting would start at 4 and probably end at 6:30. “Don’t worry, folks, said the team leader, “if it looks like we are going past 6:30, we will order some Chinese food.”
With a look of panic on her face Heather responded to Tyler. “I can’t make the meeting. Christopher will be expecting me at about 5 at the child care center. My husband is out of town and the center closes at 6 sharp. So count me out of today’s meeting.”
Tyler said, ‘I said that this is an emergency meeting and we need input from all members. You need to organize your personal life better to be a contributing member of this team. But do what you have to at least his once.”
Heather chose to leave the office at 4:30 pm so she could pick up Christopher. The next day Tyler did not comment on her absence. However, he gave her a copy of the minutes and asked for her input. The budget problem surfaced again one week later. Top-level management asked the group to reduce the cost of the new product and its initial marketing costs by 15 percent.
Tyler said to the team on Friday morning, “We have until Monday morning to arrive at a reduced cost structure on our product development. I am dividing up the project into segments. If we meet as a team Saturday morning at 8, we should get the job done by 6 in the evening. Get a good night’s rest so we can start fresh tomorrow morning. Breakfast and lunch will be on the company.”
Heather could feel stress overwhelming her body as she thought to herself, “Christopher is playing in the finals of his little league tomorrow morning at 10. Brad has made dinner reservations for 6, so we can make it to The Lion King at 8 pm. Should I tell Tyler he is being unreasonable? Should I quit? Should I tell Christopher and Brad that our special occasion is less important than a Saturday business meeting?”
Respond to the following 3 questions in detail:
- What type of conflict is Heather facing, and how is it affecting her? Explain.
- What should Heather do to resolve her conflict with respect to family and work responsibilities?
- What could the company do to help deal with the type of conflict Heather is facing? Or should the company not consider Heather’s dilemma to be their problem?