The Healthy Buildings case profiles Janet Rodriguez, CEO and founder of Healthy Buildings, a green building materials supplier. In her role as CEO, Rodriguez faces two difficult issues involving her employees. The first issue deals with Fred Payton, Healthy Buildings’s COO, and Marcia Vannis, the company’s vice president of marketing. It soon becomes apparent that Payton and Vannis have a tumultuous relationship, with Payton frequently undermining her in front of other employees within the organization, and complaining that Vannis was Rodriguez’s “teacher’s pet.” Rodriguez invites both employees to lunch to talk out their differences, but the result is underwhelming. She must now decide how to help them repair their relationship so that they can all move on with the business of the company.
In the second vignette, Rodriguez reads in the weekend paper’s police blotter that her vice president of business development, Leslie Dorrin, had been arrested for a DUI on Friday evening. That same morning, Rodriguez receives a call from Dorrin letting her know what happened, at which point Rodriguez must determine how to proceed with the news that one of her valued employees has been charged with a serious offense.
The learning objective of the case is to help students, in the role of CEO or manager, prepare for and practice difficult conversations with important stakeholders where they often must deliver unwelcome or unpleasant information or help them navigate through challenging situations. The students must make important decisions around tone, content, setting, and talking vs. listening to help them guide the conversation to the best outcome.