Nikki, the top sales representative at Splendor Company’s sales department, has been a continual help and valuable addition to them team. For the most part, she is early and prompt, coming into the office before everyone and always being the last to leave. She is thorough and detailed in her work, something that has earned her great praise in the office. She is also quick to volunteer and test new products with Splendor Company’s clients. Although recently, her performance has changed. In a week’s time, Nikki has been late, unfocused, absent from her desk, has left early and been generally distracted—hardly her typical behavior.

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The data points available on her current performance as that she was back in the office a full thirty minutes before usual for sales representatives and when she came back, she looked hurried and flustered. Another time before that, the head of the accounting department, Mark, gave me information that Nikki attempted to bend the rules and give client privileges to someone who did not have the proper credit rating, a serious financial no-no. Her current performance is a stark contrast from her past performance, but since that behavior has changed so abruptly, it does not indicate that this is a change in her motivations for her job. She has consistently been one of the top sales representatives at Splendor Company for more than a year, and this jarring change could be the result of something minor or something serious. It would be wrong to let the behavior slide because of her past performance, so it must be addressed.

However, as a leader and manager, it is not my place to make assumptions and it would be irresponsible and inappropriate to lash out, be angry and make rash decisions. Since this has all happened in such a short period of time (and even if it did not), it is worth approaching Nikki about. She may be dealing with stress caused either internally, externally or a mixture of both. Situational leaders learn to adapt to what their followers are like, but not coddle or excuse their behavior. Her problem could very well be covered and protected by Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, etc. If that is the case, then the issues need to be addressed by taking it to human resources and doing my part as a manager and leader to ensure that the people at this company feel valued and as though their personal problems are as important as organizational problems. The proper disciplinary measures will certainly be taken and will correspond with her record of performance, tenure and severity of any incident or recent behavior. As this is unlike her, it could be a situational factor that is causing a change in her behavior. No matter the cause, it must be addressed and as she is a valuable asset to the company, it would be remiss to do anything to lose her.

These behaviors, while small and happening in a quick period of time, are a definite change from Nikki’s prior punctual behavior. As a situational leader, it is my job to address and work at the levels of the employees that I am attempting to influence and improve. Nikki is in no way a problem employee and although I am a manager, I am also a leader. Leaders must be emotionally intelligent and emphatic enough to know that change has a reason behind it, whether it is personal or organizational. Situational leaders change styles, which can be done to meet the needs of those in the organization based on the situation (Anthony, 2018). Situational leaders sell, tell, coach, delegate and develop, but it is also flexible. It is up to me to modify the style of management given whom my employees are to suit the requirements of the organization (“What is Situational Leadership? How Flexibility Leads to Success.”). In this case, it is my job to address Nikki and her abrupt change in performance personally and become adaptable to it within the right parameters. In the situation with a potential new client, Customer Service sent back two of her contracts that were missing information on the new client. That, coupled with Mark’s input about her shady behavior, could lead one to believe that she is trying to push through someone that she knows personally, given how close these incidents were.

However, it will not do well to make outright accusations without first exploring what the cause of the changed behavior might be aside from her work itself. Employee behavior can change for many reasons, such as change in business location, financial issues, layoffs or downsizing, but they can also be a sign of an employee’s illegal actions. Nikki’s sudden change in performance indicates that this could be the manifestation of personal stress, or illegal and unethical behavior. If it were the latter, I would think that it would have not occurred suddenly, so brazenly and all at once, but instead something that had been building over time. Since there is a variety of causes, it is best to avoid assumptions and I should not attempt to diagnose her behavior and the changes in it myself. If and when there is action that must be taken, my action has to be consistent with policy and her record of performance, which could lead to her taking a leave of absence, modifying my own leadership behaviors, or recommending that we take it to human resources, since her behavior is not a dangerous threat to herself or others.

    References
  • Anthony, L. (2018, June 30). Define Situational Leadership. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/define-situational-leadership-2976.html
  • What is Situational Leadership? How Flexibility Leads to Success. (2014, November 25). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://online.stu.edu/articles/education/what-is-situational-leadership.aspx