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George Barker

University/College: University of Arkansas System
Date: October 30, 2017
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George Barker

George did not know what to do about his brother Peter, who was vice president of design In their family company and was not performing well in his job. Peter, 34, had never performed well in his few jobs during his eight years at the company, but he was well liked by employees and had performed well enough to make other employees feel like Peter was reasonably palpable.

In fact, over the years George had asked other employees to quietly help his brother. But for the last year Peters poor performance had become difficult to cover. Over the last three weeks, George had heard complaints from architects outside the company and managers Inside the company that Peter was Interfering with some important projects?slowing decisions and insisting that he personally meet with clients when he did not understand projects well enough to represent the firm?and that Barker was in danger of losing some important clients.

One of the company’s advisory board members, in a private conversation with George, had also recently questioned Peters qualifications to run his department. George had assured the board member that he could manage the situation. George, who had a master’s degree In engineering, entered the family business five years earlier in 1 999, when his father William became ill with cancer. William died later that year.

Peter, an architect by training, had joined the company just after graduate school at the insistence of their father and the encouragement of their mother, who had always protected Peter. Their father made Peter assistant to the resident, to help him manage projects, set agendas for meetings, and develop proposals for development projects. After working In the company for a few years, Peter became director of design, overseeing architects on their various projects, but he still helped his father in the ways he always had.

The company was much smaller then. When George entered the company in 1999 his father made him chief operating officer and made Peter vice president of design. William awarded George a 20% higher salary than his brother, but asked George and Peter to collectively determine the Dillon of profits between them. Rivalry William told George that he was always to help his brother succeed. That same point was emphasized by his mother, who came to Pewter’s defense whenever George dared to complain to his mother about Pewter’s performance.

When their father died, each brother inherited 40% of the voting shares. Their mother had 20% of the voting shares and all of the preferred non-voting shares that carried most of the economic value of the company. It was her two sons. Senior Lecturer John A. Davis prepared this case. HOBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.

Copyright 2004, 2007 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-5457685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http:// www. Hobs. Harvard. Deed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means ?electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise?without the permission of Harvard Business School. 4-094 George liked Peter and had always tried to help him when they were growing up, coaching him in sports, helping him with his school work, advising him on girlfriends, and even defending him from their father’s criticism when Peter was in trouble at school. George had always heard from his parents that he was the lucky one to whom good performance came easily. This left George with lingering feelings of guilt about Pewter’s inferior achievements. George had encouraged Peter to work elsewhere before Joining the family business but had pretended to celebrate Pewter’s decision to non their father.

George had always encouraged Peter to attend management and personal growth seminars and to get coaching on management issues. Peter attended seminars and sat with executive coaches and a few therapists, but he rarely put into practice the advice from these sources. Pewter’s wife was very protective of Peter and, given her few comments on the subject at family gatherings, seemed to resent that Peter had a lower title and lower compensation than George. George had never evaluated Pewter’s performance formally and did not think his father had either.

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