Doug Sanders is a 38-year-old plant manager for Johnson Electronics, a medium-sized company that…

Doug Sanders is a 38-year-old plant manager for Johnson Electronics, a medium-sized company that manufactures computer components. He can’t wait for dinner tonight to tell Lisa, his wife of 17 years, and Steve, his 15-year-old son, about his promotion. It’s been a long time coming, and Doug believes he richly deserves to be promoted to vice-president for manufacturing at Johnson. He’s been with the company for nearly ten years, the first five as a mechanical engineer, and he has certainly paid his dues. For the past five years, since Doug was named plant manager, he has put in 12- and 13-hour days at the plant on a regular basis and is on emergency call 24 hours a day. Not to mention his willingness to fly to corporate headquarters in Denver whenever his boss thinks it is necessary. Besides, Doug’s plant has reached new heights in productivity and profitability each year since he took over. Doug is really looking forward to the new position. True, the hours are going to be just as long—if not longer—than his current job. But the 30 percent salary raise is nothing to sneeze at. Lisa can finally have her dream house! And Doug will have a lot more responsibility—he will finally be able to call the shots, at least as far as manufacturing is concerned. Doug suspects that the company is grooming him for even better things in the future. The relocation to headquarters in Denver is the icing on the cake. Doug and Lisa have always enjoyed their trips to Denver and Steve will be able to ski all the time. Doug can’t wait to break the news to the family tonight. He told Mr. Johnson that he would get back to him in a few days with a “definite yes” and a lot of plans have to be made in a hurry. Lisa will have to give notice on her job at the museum. She should be able to find something in Denver without much trouble. It’s a bustling city that has culture on its mind. The change will be good for Steve too. Always a pretty good student, his grades— and his attitude toward school—have been slipping this past year. Doug realizes that he has been rough on Steve lately, putting on the pressure about grades, but the boy hasn’t pushed himself hard enough. He can’t afford any more screw-ups if he is going to have a shot at a top-notch university. Anyway, Doug has found from his own business experience that you’ve got to tighten the screws if you want to get the most out of people. Doug thinks that the promotion is coming at just the right time. He has been pretty tense and preoccupied at home lately because of the union problems and the pressure for cost-cutting. A change of scenery might be just what the doctor ordered. Doug can’t wait to see Lisa’s and Steve’s faces when he gives them the good news at the dinner table. Lisa Sanders knows she has a lot to be grateful for. Doug is a good husband and father, and her son Steve is a really nice kid. Her family is very important to her and it was not easy for her to go back to work a few years ago when Steve entered middle school. It wasn’t that she particularly needed the money, but she wanted to accomplish something in addition to caring for Steve and Doug. Lisa remembers that it was pretty difficult finding a job that matched her bachelor’s degree in art history. She finally found a clerical position at the Art Museum and the rest is history. Although she doesn’t consider herself to be ambitious, she welcomed the promotions that ultimately brought her to her current position, assistant director of the museum. She absolutely loves the job! She is doing what she enjoys the most—developing new cultural programs for the museum—the pay is pretty good, the hours are flexible, and most important, she is appreciated as a competent, creative, productive person. It feels very good. It’s a “one in a million” job and she knows it. Lisa can’t wait to tell Doug about her newest project—her idea—that would make the museum more accessible to the elderly and the handicapped. Not that Doug would really appreciate the project. He knows little—and cares less—about art and hasn’t shown much inclination to learn more about it in the past three years. Besides, he’s been so preoccupied—no, obsessed—with his job recently that he doesn’t seem to pay attention. He’s always at the plant and when he’s homed his mind is somewhere else. If his tension and moodiness keep up much longer, maybe Doug should see a doctor or something. Lisa thinks she should suggest that to him one of these days. Lisa thinks lovingly about her son. Steve is bright, caring, and sensitive. It wasn’t easy at first for him to adjust to Lisa’s working, but he’s become more independent and resourceful by necessity. He’s doing OK, although adolescence can be a tough time for anyone. Actually, his grades have slipped a little lately—nothing serious—but he seems to find time for everything but studying. Maybe a little talk is in order to build up his self-confidence. He’s always done so well in school. Lisa wishes that Doug wouldn’t push Steve so hard about the studying. Putting too much pressure on Steve could easily backfire. Doug and Steve are at each other’s throats—when they talk! Lisa hopes that tonight’s meal will be pleasant. Maybe Doug will be relaxed and will be interested in hearing about the museum project. Steve Sanders is a high school sophomore and things are going pretty well. He has made a lot of real good friends and, probably for the first time in his life, Steve feels that he fits in at school. The teachers are tolerable, the kids are great, and he’s got a new girlfriend, Lori. Steve loves his parents, although sometimes he thinks it is easier to love his mother than his father. Steve thinks a lot about his dad. He’s always at the plant and when he does come home, he’s usually angry—mostly at Steve. Steve feels that his father has been on his case since his last report card. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t as good as he’s done before and it certainly wasn’t up to his father’s standards. Steve considers himself a pretty good student who had a bad term. Steve knows he should work harder, but he can’t stand it when his father gets on his back about school. He doesn’t listen to Steve or doesn’t want to know why Steve’s grades started slipping or what problems he has. He just yells, probably like he yells at the workers in his plant. Steve thinks about his mom a lot too. He’s really happy that she’s doing so well at the art museum. She loves her job, but she always has time for his dad and him. Steve feels bad that his father never really seems interested in her job or spends much time with her. Steve realizes that his father doesn’t have much time for him either. Steve wonders whether that’s the way it is when you’re a big shot in the business world. Steve is optimistic that things will start looking up again soon. He realizes that he’s got great friends and parents who love him. And he has promised himself that he’ll start hitting the books again… college is right around the corner. The Dinner was anything but pleasant! Doug was astounded at Lisa and Steve’s reaction to the news about his promotion. He thought they were downright hostile. Lisa was angry and shocked; this is the first she had heard that Doug was even up for a promotion. And Steve didn’t know what to think, although he flatly told his parents that he’s not moving no matter what. After about an hour, they all started repeating themselves and figured that dinner was over. They all left the dinner table in bewilderment and anger. But Doug promised to hold off making a firm commitment to Mr. Johnson. And Lisa promised to sleep on it and continue the conversation tomorrow morning. Steve didn’t promise anything. Case Questions 1. If you were Lisa or Steve, how would you have reacted to Doug’s announcement of his promotion? Why? 2. If you were Doug, how would you have reacted to Lisa and Steve’s anger and resistance? Why? 3. What could Doug have done differently in his conversations with his company and his family? 4. What does the Sanders’ situation illustrate about the special challenges faced by dual-earner families? 5. What should the family do next?

 

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