Company Policy Versus Family Peace
Neil Tocher, Tyler Burch, Dennis Krumwiede
December 31, 2018
Strategy & General Management
conflict resolution, role conflict, person-environment Fit, family business
Journal of Critical Incidents
This decision-based critical incident describes Bob’s dilemma of what to do about Ralph, an underperforming employee of Lumber Supply Inc., who had just egregiously broken company policy; but who was also his brother-in-law. Ralph had verbally assaulted George, the company’s best employee, in front of the entire sales staff. The incident took place when George informed Ralph that George had inadvertently hit Ralph’s personal truck with a company vehicle in the yard. George did not feel he should have to pay for the damage to Ralph’s truck because it was improperly parked inside the work compound instead of in the employee parking lot. At that point, Ralph began screaming profanities and insults at George in front of the entire sales staff until Bob, one of the company owners, ran down the stairs from his office and intervened. While company policy clearly stated that verbal and physical abuse are offenses for which employees will likely be fired, dealing with the situation is complicated for Bob because if he fires Ralph his sister’s family may not be able to make ends meet. However, if he does not fire Ralph, employees may lose all respect for Bob and his willingness to enforce company policies.