One way to approach the problem presented by the quiet group

& P a r t III

resPonses

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191

r e s P o n s e 1

More Help Needed—Now!

One possible solution is for the department manager to simply concede to the request and immediately authorize an additional transcriptionist. On the plus side, a greater amount of work could then be accomplished. However, it is equally possible that the manager, in conceding, would be demonstrating to all employees that he or she is likely to give in to threats.

Another solution would be to ignore the transaction supervisor’s threats and allow her to step down from supervision or resign if she should so choose. However, it is possible that by calling her bluff the manager could cause the loss of an other- wise good employee.

A third possible solution would be to require that only documented requests for increases in personnel, complete with justification, can be considered. The supervisor should thus be encouraged to fully document her request. This routine might encour- age the supervisor to consider all ramifications of her request. However, it could also possibly discourage a busy employee who may not have time for supervisory duties from generating a proper request.

The department manager appears to be in a twofold trap: The department appar- ently has employees operating with inappropriate job descriptions and titles; and persons with the title of supervisor have apparently not been given appropriate train- ing in supervision. It is this lack of supervisory training that could well be the main genesis of the existing problem.

Also, there appear to be communication problems; the department manager has ignored the warning signs of frustration up to the point at which the supervisor is desperate for action and will risk her job to get help.

The most serious trap is presented by a threat, seemingly an ultimatum, from an employee. The employee is saying to the manager, “Do it my way or I quit.” The employee’s drastic step has made the manager fully aware of a problem that needs to be acted upon, but has also put the manager in a position in which immediate action, no matter how well intended, can be interpreted as capitulation to employee pressure.

The list of possible approaches could be much longer. However, any solution attempted should recognize and attempt to correct the communications problems, emphasize the correct way to go about requesting relief, and ensure that investigation and analysis come before action.

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192

r e s P o n s e 2

Up froM tHe raNks

As the manager of a group of former peers, Julie will have the advantage of already knowing many of the strengths and weaknesses of the people reporting to her. She should also know, based on past behavior, which employees are likely to have atten- dance or disciplinary problems. As an 8-year member of the unit, she may be privy to personal information or have knowledge of idiosyncrasies that could enable her to select and apply effective motivational techniques. In short, she knows the people.

The disadvantages may be troublesome for Julie. The new supervisor may have difficulty being taken seriously by her former peer group; these people have responded to Julie in a particular way for 8 years, and it may be difficult to change their response patterns. There could also be resentment from others in the group who thought they were more qualified, or that perhaps another specific person should have been promoted instead of Julie. There may even be some who simply resent another’s good fortune. Julie may also be uncomfortable giving orders to her friends or point- ing out errors to them. Disciplinary matters may also present problems for Julie.

Julie must be prepared to deal with the likelihood that she will no longer be thought of as one of the gang. It is a rare instance in which one who has been pro- moted can remain a member of group in the same good standing as previously enjoyed. The immediate effects may be mostly negative, and unless Julie’s direct superior prepares her for them, she may be in for some difficult times. Her member- ship in the carpool and the “lunch bunch” may be among the first things to change.

There is often an “us-and-them” mind-set in the working world, suggesting that if you are one of “them,” you cannot be one of “us.” If Julie realizes this and accepts the fact that she cannot be all things to all people, she should have every chance for success.

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193

r e s P o n s e 3

tHe sileNt GroUp

One way to approach the problem presented by the quiet group begins with trying again at the next regularly scheduled staff meeting. This time, however, do not leave it entirely up to your employees to speak up and volunteer their complaints. Rather, be prepared to prime them with some information that might encourage them to open up about whatever is bothering them.

To encourage your employees to speak up, you be the first to speak. Because you have met with them individually and heard their complaints to the extent of identi- fying common themes, you have the ideal basis on which to begin. Share with the group these common themes, being careful, of course, to avoid saying anything that is sufficiently specific to be attributed to a single individual. The key is common; tell your group that this information you are sharing came to you in various forms from several of them so there is every reason to address these issues as a group.

At all times, tread lightly and proceed carefully. You are new to the organiza- tion, so chances are, you know very little of the history of the organization, and you have not had sufficient time to become acclimated to the environment and corporate culture. It is conceivable that the employees are silent in the group setting because they have been criticized or penalized or have otherwise experienced negative con- sequences for speaking up in the past. The task you face in earning their trust will be considerable even if the problem lay only with your predecessor; it will be all the more difficult if the problem resided in higher management because chances are, the perceived reasons for distrust of the hierarchy are still in place.

The possibility of one or more employees “carrying tales to administration” presents some interesting concerns. Having been there longer than you, some of these employees may have relationships with higher management that you do not yet enjoy, so you should proceed cautiously. Higher management should of course avoid subverting the chain of command by acting upon any information that comes to them from your subordinates. The very least you can do under the circumstances is to, first, make your group aware that there are concerns about some of them possibly carrying their gripes direct to higher management, and second, for you to do your job as you should, you need to hear their concerns—individually and confidentially, if necessary—directly and not secondhand or through your manager.

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194

r e s P o n s e 4

tHe repeat offeNder

“You can’t make mistakes like this one” could very well be a valid statement, depend- ing, of course, on the nature of the mistake. An error that can result in direct patient harm, or, in the case of the overlooked stat order, can increase the patient’s risk of a serious occurrence of some kind, can be considered a potentially serious error. Depending on the requirements of any particular state government, an error like the one Arnold admits to could conceivably cause a state-reportable incident to which the organization will have to respond.

What is wrong with Arnold’s description of a warning as a form of punishment is that a warning, properly administered, is an attempt at correction, not a form of punishment. Arnold, however, appears to regard a warning as only another “gotcha!” one more strike that ensures your position “on the list” and one step closer to the door. He has apparently never learned, or perhaps has chosen to ignore, the true purpose of disciplinary action. In all but extreme circumstances that call for immediate termina- tion with no second chances, the essential purpose of disciplinary action is correction of behavior. That is precisely why there is a hierarchy of actions that are progressive in severity—for instance, counseling, oral warning, written warning, suspension without pay, and ultimately termination—to provide plenty of opportunity for correction.

There could be a valid point in what Arnold says about the age of a warning. We do not know how long Arnold has gone between occurrences; however, you will often find in place a personnel policy that declares a warning invalid providing there has been no recurrence of the same kind of behavior for a specified length of time.

The way to deal with Arnold is to be quite specific about the nature of the prob- lem and write the warning to include the potential consequences of recurrence within a particular period of time. And the potential consequences need to be more specific than “you may find that more than a written warning is involved.” In Arnold’s case, it may be wise to indicate that another such error “may involve disciplinary action up to and including termination.” Then if Arnold repeats a serious error within, say, a year, it might mean termination, but if he stays “clean” for longer than a year it may suffice to repeat the last step before termination. In any case, however, laboratory manager Elsie Clark needs to be working with Arnold concerning his attitude toward errors and his apparent lack of concern for quality.

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195

r e s P o n s e 5

a Good eMployee?

Housekeeping supervisor Ellie Richards should arrange a counseling interview with the employee. Ellie needs to try to learn firsthand Judy’s reasons for her excessive absenteeism and for being absent for several days without calling in.

Ellie can break the ice by stating that she recognizes Judy has problems, but out of fairness to Judy’s coworkers, they must attempt to correct the situation. Further- more, Ellie can indicate that she was hesitant to address the attendance issue because of Judy’s otherwise-positive work record.

If Judy is willing to explain her behavior, Ellie will have the opportunity to indi- cate her understanding and offer support and guidance.

The key questions are: Does Judy have her situation resolved? Or is further absenteeism anticipated? Either way, a timetable for review should be established, perhaps 15 to 30 days or so in the future, depending on Ellie’s judgment.

Ellie should make it clear that this counseling session must be recorded, but that it is hoped that Judy will be able to return to her former good behavior. If Judy remains in her job, most likely she will eventually appreciate the action taken. If Judy is unable to get back on track, then further disciplinary action can proceed. The morale of other staff could be at stake if one employee is allowed to get away with behavior that others feel would be grounds for action against them.

Ellie’s failure to take action thus far does not affect her ability to take action now. What is done is done, and continued lack of action will not correct the situation. Appropriate action is both explainable and defensible, and if no action is taken, the opportunity to salvage this worthwhile employee may be lost.

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196

r e s P o n s e 6

tHe CliNGiNG ViNe

One of the first responsibilities of a new supervisor is to become fully acquainted with all employees, discuss their jobs with them and determine how they perceive their responsibilities, and communicate to them your expectations as their new super- visor. The discussion should be informal and nonthreatening but, nevertheless, quite specific so that future misunderstandings can be avoided.

As a result of such discussions, a new supervisor following an apparently author- itarian supervisor might anticipate some of the problems that May faces with Brenda. Some employees will welcome a more democratic working environment and will readily accept increased responsibility and freedom in decision making. However, others may lack the desired initiative because of insecurity that is either innate or was instilled by the previous supervisor.

How does one train to think and act independently an employee who has been accustomed to authoritarian supervision? Having clarified new expectations, the new supervisor should concede that complete change cannot be realized imme- diately. The employee must be allowed to gain confidence as increased respon- sibility is given and accepted. The supervisor should appreciate that, concerning most tasks, the employee already knows what to do and needs only confirmation and reassurance. Applying this belief, May can ask Brenda to provide her own answers to the questions she brings. As confirmation is provided for Brenda’s responses, she should gradually learn that she is capable of handling some situa- tions herself. As Brenda’s self-confidence increases, independent action is encour- aged, acknowledged, and rewarded until a level of satisfactory performance is achieved.

May will never have enough time to deal with her department’s major problems until she can delegate with confidence. Elimination of Brenda’s time-consuming dependency must be one of May’s priorities if she is to succeed in her supervisory position.

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197

r e s P o n s e 7

tHe iNHerited probleM

Donna, the kitchen supervisor, has every chance of salvaging her problem employee, Sandra. Sandra is possibly a problem only because of improper orientation and train- ing. It is unreasonable to expect an employee to perform at a particular level unless that level of performance is clearly defined in the minds of both the employee and the supervisor.

Correcting the problem must begin with thorough orientation to the department. Sandra should be fully advised of the chain of command, the various functions of the department, and the specific requirements of her particular job. It may also be helpful to include a listing of possible tasks to be done should Sandra have unexpected time available when her regular work is caught up.

Donna has an obligation to tell Sandra, as well as other employees, that practices are necessarily changing, that performance must be monitored, and below-standard performance will be pointed out so that it can be corrected. Donna must also make it a point to commend above standard performance whenever she observes it.

If properly handled, this situation may be a blessing in disguise for Donna. The results of her efforts may serve to firmly establish her in her new position as supervi- sor. The other employees may judge Donna’s ability by her success or failure with Sandra. If Sandra indeed becomes a productive employee, other employees will be favorably impressed. Another result for all employees could be a lessening of the ten- sion inevitably accompanying a change of boss, because the new boss has clarified her expectations and the consequences of nonperformance. The employees will know where they stand. Consistent application of her requirements and expectations will help to ensure Donna’s success as a supervisor.

The solution includes the need to formally extend the employee’s probationary period. The employee is to be essentially held harmless for her recent unsatisfactory performance because of a supervisor’s omissions. A fresh start, with all ground rules out in the open at last, is in order.

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198

r e s P o n s e 8

tHe well-eNtreNCHed eMployee

Although Dave Farren may indeed have felt that “the biggest problem was Mary West’s complete lack of an efficient approach to the job,” he nevertheless owes it to his employee and to himself to recognize some other long-standing difficulties. If he is to stand a chance of “selling” Mary on the need for change, he should con- sider the following:

• Carefully studying all of the complaints about mail service, looking for cor- rectable procedural problems

• Doing whatever he can to relieve the physical problems of the “cramped, out- of-the-way mail room,” if not through securing a new area, then at least by updating the equipment and the sorting and storage facilities

• Taking steps to determine, through engineering studies or other means, the actual amount of time required for daily sorting and mailing and for daily rounds requiring Mary’s involvement in documenting the workload of the mail room so that presently unsubstantiated claims of “too much work” can either be verified or refuted.

Dave will be most likely to win the employee’s cooperation if he demonstrates that he cares about the functioning of the mail room, that he cares about Mary’s work surroundings and is genuinely interested in getting the work accomplished efficiently with minimum strain on her. He needs to be patient and extend her the benefit of the doubt. Although it may appear that she has been allowed to work independently over the years, it is even more likely that she has simply been ignored.

After 20-plus years of making her own way and following her own apparently meandering path, Mary may not respond to even the best that Dave can offer. How- ever, as the responsible manager, he nevertheless needs to try. If she is not responsive, that is, if she cannot be “sold,” then he should implement whatever improvements he can develop without her help, provide her with specific job procedures, spell out his expectations of her, and hope for the best. He should not, however, resort to any disciplinary action until he has clearly given her every reasonable opportunity to improve.

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199

r e s P o n s e 9

tHe seNsitiVe eMployee

Theresa began this employee counseling session with a negative attitude because of her previous experiences with Barbara. Her approach immediately put Barbara on the defensive. Theresa could have opened the conversation with facts simply stated: “Barbara, on June 30, 2009 (using the date applicable) you received a warning about your absenteeism. Since that date you have taken 10 sick days. This is an excessive number of sick days. Do you have any explanation?”

Emotions cannot always be ignored; they must be dealt with often. However, at the same time, a manager must remain objective in dealing with the resentful and emotional employee. Barbara’s outburst of tears might indicate an underlying prob- lem at home that causes her absenteeism. Theresa might want to suggest that Barbara work part-time until she resolves her problems, or that perhaps she change shifts.

If Barbara offers no real reasons for her absenteeism, and it is evident that she is an unreliable employee, then further disciplinary steps can be taken. When a second warning regarding absenteeism is issued, specific corrective guidelines should be set in writing for the employee. At this time, Theresa should define what the organization considers “excessive absenteeism” in terms of number of days allowed in a specified period of time; this is ordinarily specified in personnel policy. The second warning should explicitly state that if improvement is not seen and probation limits are vio- lated, disciplinary action will be taken. Depending on business office policies and the state labor laws, “disciplinary action” can mean suspension without pay, and after a third warning, termination. Barbara then should be placed on probation for at least 3 months with the assurance that her attendance will be closely monitored. At the end of the probationary period, another counseling session should take place with proper documentation of Barbara’s adherence to or violation of the probation.

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200

r e s P o n s e 10

tHe eNeMy CaMps

Helen should not discipline Sandy on the secondhand evidence provided by a member of the opposite “camp.” There is really no clear way of carrying out such disciplin- ary action without compromising Jeanette. Disciplinary action undertaken on such a basis would destroy the confidence Helen may have established in the last 7 months and would probably solidify the counterproductive positions of the “camps.”

An initial action suggested for Helen would be to change the locks in her office. She should make no accusations. Helen should hold a meeting with Sandy and others to seek help in designing and implementing a goal-setting system with the participa- tion of all employees, perhaps in brainstorming sessions to set and prioritize goals and objectives. Sandy, being an informal leader, would be an excellent source of assistance to Helen in furthering her efforts. Helen might also consider having Sandy and an informal leader of “Camp A” cross-train to further integrate the department. Helen needs to outline the general goals, seek input on objectives from employees, and have Sandy and the “Camp A” informal leader put the plan into action, reporting to her often to ensure control. Helen should continue her regular meetings, including time during each to discuss progress toward the departmental objectives.

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201

r e s P o n s e 11

tHe tUrNaroUNd CHalleNGe

One should first recognize that there are two significant dimensions to this problem and that the overall difficulty may be described as two separate but related problems. The first of these problems is the one described in some detail in the case: the lax department. The second problem to emerge, but the one that may have to be solved first or at least put into a “hold” status, is that of the boss’s expectations. By simply demanding to know how soon a problem that took years to evolve can be corrected, the boss is adding an element of pressure that may cause Fred to take shortcuts to find an answer, thereby ignoring some of the people problems that should be dealt with along the way.

Fred should attempt to obtain some clear, detailed expectations from his supe- rior. If those expectations appear unrealistic—for example, the boss expects it to be fixed in 3 months, tops—then Fred is going to have to try to negotiate with his boss. In his negotiations, Fred should suggest objectives aimed at incremental progress and try to sell a long-range program of steady improvement that is far more realistic than an attempt to forcibly alter a situation that took years to develop. Fred and his boss both need to recognize that many of the department’s employees came to regard their slow pace and lax environment as normal and that management is now trying to force them to do more than normal.

As part of his overall approach, Fred must make full use of the knowledge and capabilities of his assistant manager, treating this person as a true member of man- agement and delegating responsibility to him accordingly.

The case suggests that Fred is at least partly on the right track. Some improve- ments have been made, and even though there were some setbacks, if he keeps trying, the net result may be long-term improvement. Neither he nor his boss can necessarily expect every month or every reporting period to show constant improvement.

Much of the challenge referred to in the title lies in the work Fred has to do with the department’s employees and their attitudes. He has before him the significant task of building on the improvements made so far by attempting to motivate his workers through pride in their contributions.

Because the department in question is a laundry, there is one seemingly drastic option available that has been used to solve numerous laundries’ problems: The

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hospital could consider going outside to a commercial laundry or to membership in a shared laundry. Productivity problems of the human kind sometimes have an impact in such a decision, but often, the decision to get the hospital out of the laun- dry business is based on economics. In an increasing number of cases, hospitals are finding it more economical to go outside for this service than to upgrade and modernize their laundries. Thus an analysis of the economic feasibility of retaining the laundry might well be part of the hospital’s approach to the laundry problem.

202      Response 11: The Turnaround Challenge

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203

r e s P o n s e 12

oNe persoN’s word aGaiNst aNotHer’s

The second-shift supervisor should decline Mrs. Carter’s request to cosign a written warning for Janet Mills. Further, Mrs. Carter should be advised against generating such a warning. Because there was room for confusion and misunderstanding, on this occasion the employee should be given the benefit of the doubt. Ms. Mills bears some responsibility for asking Mrs. Carter for permission to leave rather than asking the second shift supervisor, however, and it is reasonable to assume that Ms. Mills asked Mrs. Carter only because she was afraid of receiving a negative response from the other supervisor. A cynical view might suggest that this behavior is akin to that of a manipulative child playing one parent off against the other.

The two supervisors should consider meeting with Janet Mills so that both sides of the story can be aired for all concerned parties at the same time. It should then be made plain to Ms. Mills—and reinforced with all employees as a department policy—that permission to leave early (or otherwise alter scheduled work time) must be obtained from the supervisor who will be on duty at the time of the early depar- ture. Furthermore Ms. Mills must be advised that the two supervisors necessarily work closely because of their common responsibilities and that any attempt to play one of them against the other will not succeed. It could in fact affect future perfor- mance evaluations and perhaps result in disciplinary action. Both supervisors should become well aware of the hazards existing when an employee reports to two different supervisors in the course of a single shift.

Any employee attempting to play one supervisor against another should be con- fronted by the involved supervisors and warned of the unacceptability of this practice. Communication between supervisors can be facilitated by brief shift report meetings each day. Also, a daily supervisors’ log could be maintained to exchange information. Regular departmental meetings should be held, and at these meetings the work force should see a unified management team.

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204

r e s P o n s e 13

tHe GroUCHy reCeptioNist

Morris Craig is challenged to determine the cause of Jennifer’s poor job performance. Trying to meet individual and departmental needs, having no rationale for the change in Jennifer’s behavior, and trying to avoid a confrontation, he is relying on Jennifer to solve her own problems—or rather hoping that she will solve them. Unfortunately, she seems unable to solve them and unwilling to discuss them, and Morris’s delaying tactics are only compounding the problem.

If the cause is determined, Morris can ascertain what he and the department can do to achieve a solution benefiting everyone. If the trouble is work related (for example, “burnout”), job satisfaction might be improved through promotion, new responsibilities, different hours, additional help, or unit transfer. If the cause is per- sonal (for example, marital problems), a leave of absence or counseling might be appropriate.

Marie Stark’s recommendation is an excellent first step, especially with an employee whose past behavior has been acceptable. Jennifer may avoid discussing specific concerns with her male boss but she might talk with a female colleague. This approach emphasizes commitment of the work group to its members and departmen- tal goals, something that the department seems to lack at present.

Morris Craig could complete a performance appraisal for Jennifer. Open, honest dialogue is required. Jennifer knows her responsibilities and is probably aware of her behavior, her perceptions of the job, her role within the department, and adverse influences on her work, so her recommendations are critical in a mutually satisfac- tory resolution.

As a last resort, disciplinary action may be considered to prevent further disrup- tion. Morris must clearly indicate to Jennifer why such action is required and must describe organizational policy, identify expected behaviors, delineate progressive steps of the action, structure evaluation mechanisms, and provide close supervision. The onus lies with Jennifer: regardless of the cause, she either changes her behavior and improves performance or ultimately is terminated.

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205

r e s P o n s e 14

wHat’s tHe trUtH?

This is an extremely difficult case to deal with in any consistent fashion because it does not provide a point of view from which to address the problem presented. One is asked to assess what happened from the perspectives of two participants, but without being firmly positioned in some relationship to the characters, it is possible to be led in any of several directions. One could automatically adopt the viewpoint of any of the three characters, or one could assume an omniscient viewpoint. Thus, four completely different viewpoints—and a number of potential paths toward resolution within each viewpoint—are possible. To further complicate matters, it is also relatively easy to unintentionally change points of view while thinking through the case.

The overall problem is twofold: some clear indications of weakness on the part of the immediate supervisor, Tom Davis; and what would seem to be continuing difficulties with employee Stan Thomas, who apparently “plays the gray areas” and comes across as troublesome while staying out of big trouble with his boss. Thomas seems to have a sense of the extent of Davis’s weakness; with many other supervisors, his insubordinate behavior would have already gotten him into big trouble.

Considering where the situation has gone, one is left with little reasonable action that can be taken over the specific incident but much that can and should be done about future communication among the parties. Also, Harry Willis, Tom Davis’s immediate superior, needs to make Davis appreciate some of supervision’s basic responsibilities. Tom Davis seems to have made his problem Harry Willis’s problem, as he was unable to resolve it himself. Also, Davis exhibited weakness in attempting to deal with this apparently troublesome employee; perhaps Davis has little control over his subordinates and feels intimidated by them.

Tom Davis fails to see the need to help Stan Thomas set priorities; it does not appear that the supervisor has done a great deal to ensure the employee’s understand- ing of what must be done and when it must be done. The supervisor’s position is further weakened by director of building services Harry Willis, who steps out of his role and into Tom’s when he addresses Stan for insubordination.

All reasonable approaches to this case should ideally mention the need to work on communication, and should also suggest the supervisory education and higher-management guidance necessary to help Tom Davis better fulfill his responsibilities.

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206

r e s P o n s e 15

iN a rUt

There are two basic problems underlying the situation described in the case. First and foremost, Sue has taken it upon herself to come up with all the ideas for the group; she has not involved any of her staff in planning. Second, she has been fairly quick to develop a negative attitude toward her staff and blame them for a lack of progress.

Director Andy Miller has his work cut out for him. He must counsel Sue con- cerning proper techniques of management, suggesting that she first invite her staff to participate in planning. She must be helped to realize that the employees are her most valuable asset, and that more than likely, those people can offer many good ideas based on their experience if only they are given the chance to be heard. It is of utmost importance to involve the affected people in the setting of both short- and long-range goals.

Sue must also be reminded that no manager is an island; no manager is always expected to come up with all the exciting new ideas. The manager has the job of coordinating, prioritizing, and developing others’ ideas. Having access to the bigger picture, the manager can be the judge of where and how a given idea can fit into the overall scheme of things. One of the most pleasing experiences a manager can have is to witness the success—and thus the professional growth and development—of an employee for whom the manager has paved the way.

Also, Sue needs to do some work on her apparent negative attitude. She may need to be actively encouraged to look for the positive a bit more readily.

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207

r e s P o n s e 16

tHe Up-aNd-dowN perforMer

There are some significant issues to consider before dealing with the questions posed in the case:

1. The employee’s actions and the possible reasons for them. It is necessary to ask whether she has been thoroughly trained, understands the manager’s expectations, and has sufficient time to do all that is assigned to her.

2. The lack of documentation. The manager failed to record all efforts at correction.

3. Failure to follow up. Since the manager did not discuss the employee’s mar- ginal performance at the end of the 30-day period, the employee had reason to assume that her performance was acceptable.

With the foregoing in mind, the questions may be addressed:

1. The employee could cause trouble because of the lack of documentation. Termination at the point described in the case could readily be construed as occurring without cause and could lead to a lawsuit or other legal action.

2. At this point the manager needs to go back and reassess the employee’s training, capabilities, and assigned workload. Eventually satisfied that the problem is indeed employee performance, the supervisor may then begin the process over again with an oral warning or other appropriate reprimand, making sure to document all efforts and follow up regularly even if behavior seems to be improving over the short run.

Documentation is the key in this case. Whenever such an employee problem lands in court or the hands of an advocacy agency, the employer is required to demonstrate that the employee was given a reasonable opportunity to improve the substandard performance. It does not matter if you have talked repeatedly with a problem employee; as far as employment law is concerned, in most cases if it is not documented, it never happened.

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208

r e s P o n s e 17

i’ll Get aroUNd to it

The problem appears to involve poor supervisor–employee communication. Super- visor Mabel may feel that she has little control over housekeeper Ellie because she leaves Ellie alone to do her assigned work and intrudes into Ellie’s world only when she has additional work for her. Ellie may well be resistant if she has come to associ- ate communication from her supervisor with more work. Mabel should make a point to find time to communicate with Ellie in a positive way and not always about work. She needs to break Ellie’s habit of associating the supervisor with additional work.

Instead of telling Ellie to do something based on information from a third party, Mabel could have said something like, “I hear that the ER entrance is muddy again. Would you please check it out and get back to me?” This type of communication invites dialogue between supervisor and employee. It also implies trust. Mabel should not have to tell Ellie to “take care of it.” She need only direct Ellie to the problem area and trust that once Ellie sees that the floor is muddy again, she will clean it up and report back about what she has done. If this approach fails to work the first time, Mabel needs to work at it until she gains Ellie’s cooperation.

Mabel might also consider looking into the state of Ellie’s job description. If the job description states or can be modified to state that the incumbent is to periodi- cally check certain specific areas (such as the ER entrance) and clean as necessary, this can be used to encourage Ellie to possibly become self-managed in maintaining the area.

Working with employees is a two-way street. Mabel must show an interest in Ellie and her concerns before she can expect Ellie to reciprocate. So long as Mabel simply issues directives, Ellie may continue to respond in borderline insubordinate fashion.

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209

r e s P o n s e 18

tHe alterNate day off

There appears to be no policy violation in this situation. The issue revolves around Susan’s action. Was she ill? Or did Susan use the policy to manipulate the nurse manager? If so, this is an ethical issue dealing with Susan’s sense of responsibility, her respect for her coworkers, and her duty to the patients. However, claiming illness when one wants time off for other purposes is such a common occurrence that it is understandable that the manager might suspect manipulation.

As Susan’s immediate superior, Mabel should review Susan’s performance record to identify whether or not Susan has established a pattern of illness or absence. If so, she should then determine whether the pattern is related to holidays and alter- nate days off. In many organizations’ policies, such patterned absenteeism can trig- ger the start of a progressive disciplinary process. Second, Mabel should schedule a conference with Susan to discuss Susan’s behavior, offer Susan the opportunity to express her point of view, and for Mabel, as head nurse, reiterate the responsibilities of an employee. Third, Mabel should document this incident and the subsequent conference.

Regarding the “alternate-day-off policy,” Mabel can do little or nothing. The policy is not the issue; it is a broadly stated general policy that serves its purpose. However, there may be no procedure to follow when an employee becomes ill on the job. Perhaps Mabel could suggest to the administration that such a procedure be considered.

About all Mabel could do regarding the policy itself is to suggest that it be clari- fied to specify the alternate day off as coming only after the holiday. Again, if Susan was not truly ill, the real issue would seem to be her sense of duty to the institution, her coworkers, and the patients. Appropriate change in Susan’s attitude and in her sense of commitment to her responsibilities is the real challenge for Mabel.

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210

r e s P o n s e 19

if yoU waNt tHiNGs doNe well . . .

Having never put in writing his procedure for preparing his monthly report, laundry manager Miller was not in a good position to suddenly decide to delegate the task. His decision to have Curtis do the report should have been accompanied by a simple note to himself to orient Curtis to the procedure, followed by completion of that month’s report himself. Then, unhurried, he should have committed the procedure to writing.

Miller presented the assignment to Curtis as though he was dumping an unpleas- ant chore that required little skill. Actually, his presentation of the task should have been positive, a recognition of Curtis’s abilities and an expansion of his respon- sibilities. Based on his knowledge of Curtis’s learning capability and work style, Miller should have presented the written procedure and copies of past reports and then should have either gone through the procedure with him or allowed him to go over it himself and later ask questions.

Given a previous month’s raw data, Curtis should have been asked to do the report and then compare his results with the actual report. Curtis’s critical error would have been either avoided because of the written procedure or corrected in a far more positive manner. A regular submission deadline should have been negotiated, allowing for necessary corrections to be made by Curtis after discussion.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the report form should have been amended to allow Curtis to sign his own work, with Miller’s signature of approval if required. Task ownership and recognition are crucial in effective delegation.

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211

r e s P o n s e 20

sixty MiNUtes or less

If forced to select one and only one of the three suggested uses for Judy’s avail- able hour, the expected textbook answer would be the second choice, sort everything according to priority and develop a work plan. This is the only certain way of bring- ing to the surface any true high-priority items that might be buried in the stack. If Judy already knows the relative importance of everything awaiting her attention, she can select one or two important items for immediate resolution as suggested in the third choice.

However, if Judy has no idea of what is there she needs to invest the hour in sort- ing her work and determining priorities so she can then be assured that she will begin working on the most important items first.

Some people who have discussed this case in time management workshops have suggested that the department secretary could be involved to a greater extent than implied by the short case description. A knowledgeable secretary can at least separate the items that might be of immediate importance from those that clearly can wait. It appears that Judy and Ann, manager and secretary, already enjoy open communica- tion as evidenced by their exchange of feelings and opinions. As long as it was Ann who originally took the numerous phone messages, and as long as Ann is reasonably familiar with Judy’s job duties, one approach to making the most of the available hour would be for Judy to ask Ann to brief her on each item or call and thus help arrange the work in priority order.

Since Judy has nothing on her calendar for the following day, that would be the best time to start actually working on the listed items. Also, if Ann considered any of the telephone calls to be urgent, perhaps Judy could have Ann relay brief messages to those particular callers or at least let them know that Judy would get back to them early the following day.

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212

r e s P o n s e 21

is it iNsUbordiNatioN?

It is a manager’s responsibility to balance organizational needs with employees’ rights. Personnel policies exist to provide equity between the employee and the orga- nization. In the instance described in the case, Mason does indeed exhibit insubordi- nation to Hamilton during and after the staff meeting.

Hamilton restricted vacation time as a management strategy to ensure adequate worker availability. Recognizing the potential hardship the time restriction may have on his employees, Hamilton shows sensitivity by announcing his intentions a full 6 months before the actual restriction. Even though Hamilton has the right to sched- ule according to the organization’s needs, he provides employees with rationale and time that helped foster their acceptance of the change.

If Mason had not used a group forum for his outburst, Hamilton would have had more room to negotiate a settlement. Now if Hamilton decides to allow an exception to his policy and gives Mason time off, he must address two issues: the responsibility for reward- ing negative behavior, and the impact of his decision on the morale of the work group.

Supervisor Hamilton needs to assess whether Mason’s belligerence was blatant insubordination or a subconscious strategy by Mason to garner peer support for time off; that is, “With his attitude, let him take off.” Regardless of Mason’s motivation, Hamilton needs to initiate dialogue and take appropriate corrective action to prevent future outbursts.

In joining an organization an individual in effect agrees to follow its rules. It is the manager’s position to uphold the work of the organization; that is, the creation of a secure and successful work climate for the employees. Hamilton may have to exercise his management right to restrict Mason’s vacation, a right based on work demand.

As long as Hamilton applies his ruling on vacations consistently throughout his staff, he has every right to insist that everyone—Mason included—schedule vacation as directed.

Pete Hamilton should also advise his manager and human resources of the necessity for the vacation restriction and the situation with Mason, because it is pos- sible that Mason may take his complaint up the chain of command. We do not know to what extent Hamilton may have planned the vacation restriction, but if he has approached it responsibly, both his manager and human resources will have been consulted and agreed to the change.

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213

r e s P o n s e 22

Get baCk to yoU iN a MiNUte

This is a truly frustrating situation for a manager. The description of this one particu- lar week illustrates a king-size problem by highlighting the frustrations involved in reporting to a manager who seems never to have time for subordinate supervisors.

Neither mounting an all-out campaign to get the boss in situations in which he has to talk to you, nor doing your own thing may be appropriate answers. You might best proceed by:

• Examining your relationship with the boss before this terrible week. Ask yourself to recall a time when the boss listened to you or paid attention to the needs of your department.

• Considering how you can replicate that situation to get his attention now. • Trying to identify the boss’s priorities.

All of the contacts made with the boss were either by catching him on the run or telephoning. He does not appear to respond well to either of these methods. Perhaps he places greatest importance on scheduled or emergency meetings, so making an appointment with his secretary to discuss concerns on a regular basis might be help- ful. Right now, he seems to perceive your attempts to talk with him as interruptions or distractions.

We are given no indication that he pays attention to written communication, but in case he does, it could be helpful to try writing your concerns and asking for a reply. You may be surprised at the speed with which you get an answer; then again you get no response at all. This may cause you to be more flexible in your style.

You may be comfortable doing business as you run into people, but your boss’s style is different. Being aware of that and making adjustments will improve your relationship with your boss.

There is one technique you might consider when something of importance is pending and you cannot get at the boss directly: Briefly write out the problem, clearly state what you believe should be done, and advise your manager that this is what you will do unless you hear from him with other instructions. This may at least cover you to some extent if something goes wrong.

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214

r e s P o n s e 23

tHe deleGated diGGiNG

If Sharon is qualified for the project, the primary determinant of whether Kaye assigns the task to her should be her likely future involvement. If the task is to become a regular part of her job, it would make sense to actively involve her in doing this task from the first. However, if this is to be a one-time task, and if no one is more clearly qualified than anyone else, the job might as well be done by whomever can best set aside the time to perform it.

The foregoing possibility has the advantage of being easy for the supervisor. However, unless Sharon does know all of the codes and terminology, and unless she truly understands what is needed, she could be heading straight into a time-consum- ing failure. The second possibility has the advantage of thoroughness; with expected results clearly spelled out, a detailed procedure to follow, and a specific deadline to work toward, her chances of going astray are minimized. However, all of this takes time and effort on the part of the supervisor, and if it does turn out to be a one-time job it will have taken far longer to get the data via delegation than it would have taken Kaye to do the job himself.

The third possibility falls midway between the other two. It would likely lead to more accurate results than would the first, simply turning her loose, but it would not be nearly as time consuming as the complete delegation of the second. Also, this third approach would avoid the “overkill” of the second that would be experienced if the task did indeed turn out to be a one-time job.

Under the circumstances of the case, the most reasonable approach of those offered is the third—tell her what is wanted, recommend an approach, and turn her loose. However, to this we must add the necessity for John Kaye to stay closely in touch with the job as it progresses. Sharon should not have to call for help; the super- visor should anticipate most of her needs.

The ideal approach would be for Sharon and her supervisor to tackle this digging together. Although this data collection might become a regular part of someone’s job, chances are, this will not come to pass in the exact form in which it is first encoun- tered. The process of going through 18 months’ worth of work orders could be a key part of determining exactly what is needed in the design of a preventive maintenance program.

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215

r e s P o n s e 24

tHe seCoNd CHaNCe

The situation described in this case exhibits some classic symptoms of distress caused by lack of planning and incomplete communication of objectives to the person responsible for the project. The communication of desired results, especially impor- tant in delegated projects, appears absent here. It is important to note that the assign- ment is a “special” work-order-analysis project and that it was “hastily assigned.”

It has often been suggested that performance is generally predictable based on factors such as ability, personal motivation, and encouragement to produce. The problem in this case appears not necessarily to be with ability and motivation, but rather with encouragement—which includes proper direction and communication of the manager’s expectations. It is certainly possible that the job enlargement involved in this project might be beyond Sharon’s ability, but there is no evidence to suggest this may be so.

Sharon’s interruptions should be viewed as calls for help as she tries to read her boss’s mind, and a good manager should sense this. Too often, managers plan but then keep their plans largely or completely in their heads.

John Kaye’s smartest move would be to utilize the first option: Review what Sharon has accomplished so far, show her where and how to adjust to meet the proj- ect’s real objectives, and assist her in planning the remainder of the task.

Once the manager devotes the proper time to planning and conveying all appro- priate information, most of the details should fall into place for the employee, and there will be fewer interruptions coming the manager’s way. Doing so will also give Sharon a stronger sense of involvement, but allow John to retain ultimate control while he remains free to concentrate on other business.

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216

r e s P o n s e 25

tHe bUNGled assiGNMeNt

Delegation is a valuable tool that can maximize the performance and productivity of management personnel. Moreover, its proper practice is essential to a manager’s long-term success. In substance, delegation requires the turning the authority for task performance to a subordinate who in turn is held responsible for the performance of the task.

That is probably what John Kaye thought he did when he asked his secretary, Sharon, to do a report for him and gave her the authority and responsibility for the report. Later he was considerably disappointed in the results. As do so many who fail at delegation, he did not delegate completely.

There is more to delegation than dropping an assignment on a subordinate’s desk. Before delegating, the manager should confirm the skills, experience, and com- petence of the employee. If the subordinate is not familiar enough with the project content or context, more experience and training may be necessary.

The manager must also clarify expectations. He or she must explain what is acceptable in relation to quality, quantity, and time. The manager must also help the subordinate set priorities by guiding the arrangement of tasks for completion.

Once the task is assigned, the manager should become a coach. The manager becomes accessible via milestone or checkpoints, planned interactions scheduled throughout the duration of the project. If necessary the manager establishes calls for interim reports to monitor progress, coaches the subordinate, and assists with problems. If John Kaye had been more of a coach, Sharon’s project might have been successful.

Delegation not only enhances management time and resources, it also provides an opportunity to encourage subordinates’ potential and foster personal growth. Therefore, a dimension of humanity is evident in the concept of effective delegation. An extra bonus is the job satisfaction that accrues when subordinates make decisions and successfully meet new challenges.

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217

r e s P o n s e 26

it isN’t iN tHe Job desCriptioN

One’s initial reaction to the problems presented in the case might be to recommend revising that particular job description. However, it is not always possible to revise a job description simply because a manager decides to do so; in a union shop, for example, it usually requires a significant change in equipment or procedures to reopen and revise a job description.

Absent the restrictions of a union contract, supervisor Morton should certainly consider strengthening employee Thompson’s job description in various ways. It should be relatively easy to add a line to the job description calling for reporting of other apparent maintenance needs encountered while working on a primary assign- ment. It may also be helpful for Morton to obtain Thompson’s active input in the process of revising the job description.

The improved job description should also include standing instructions for the employee to follow when an assigned repair job is completed and another is not yet designated. For example, Thompson’s job description could clearly indicate that he is to pursue certain known preventive maintenance activities during time open between assigned repairs.

As Thompson’s job description may exhibit weaknesses, so too might there be weaknesses in the maintenance department’s scheduling practices. Consci- entious scheduling would not ordinarily afford the individual employee the opportunity for “prolonged breaks.” Also, a work-order control system that captures elapsed time, material costs, and other information for each repair job would quickly reveal whether Thompson did in fact “usually take longer” than needed.

The matters of the job description and work scheduling and such add up to a need for Morton to provide closer supervision of Jeff Thompson. However, it was noted that much of the problem seems to lie in Jeff’s attitude. Why should he have such a negative view of his responsibilities?

One can only second-guess at the possible reasons behind Jeff’s attitude. How- ever, the supervisor has one clearly positive factor to build upon—Jeff is confident in his ability to do the job. Jeff does good work and he knows it.

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Supervisor Morton needs to:

• Strengthen the job description and improve his scheduling and control procedures • Provide Thompson with closer supervision • Stress the positive results of Thompson’s efforts • Truly get to know this employee on a one-to-one basis, making it plain that

he, Morton, is interested in each employee as a whole person as well as a producer

The rest is up to Thompson. At worst, his productivity will improve, even if no atti- tude improvement occurs, because of closer supervision. At best, his attitude will improve over time as he is drawn into a relationship in which he and his skills are respected.

218      Response 26: It Isn’t in the Job Description

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219

r e s P o n s e 27

delayed CHaNGe of CoMMaNd

The employees’ view of Smitty would probably undergo considerable change over the 6 months during which there was no official manager. At the start, the employees assumed that Smitty would be appointed manager. However, because that assumption was not borne out within a reasonable period of time, some of the employees would have begun to feel that perhaps Smitty was not as strong or capable a candidate as they thought him to be, and that perhaps higher management felt there were better choices available. In short, as the weeks become months, the employees would have likely become less and less convinced that Smitty was the proper person to lead the department.

The finance director’s viewpoint is extremely difficult to assess without more information. It would be especially helpful to know whether the finance director had genuine doubts about Smitty’s capabilities; thought Smitty was probably “okay” but wished to test the market to make sure; felt he needed to test Smitty for a while to assure himself that Smitty was a reasonable choice; or simply procrastinated, extend- ing to months a process that should have been accomplished in far less time.

As his position would likely deteriorate in the eyes of the department and other elements of the organization, so too would Smitty’s position be likely to deteriorate in his own eyes. Assuming that he, too, believed he would move up and become manager, Smitty would probably experience growing impatience and increasing self-doubt as the weeks dragged on without a decision. Learning that candidates were being interviewed for information services manager could have been a considerable blow to whatever self- confidence he possessed. He could feel increasingly insecure in his employment with the hospital and could begin to have doubts about his future with this particular employer. Smitty could come to wonder whether this organization—and especially the finance direc- tor—held him in any appreciable regard. Certainly, Smitty could come to feel exploited in being left to handle the important elements of two positions for so long.

Finally, appointing Smitty to the position of manager after 6 months of unex- plained delay does not correct the situation. Damage has been done; doubts, espe- cially those of Smitty and the department’s employees, will linger. One can almost hear some of the comments: “They finally decided to take a chance with Smitty;” “They gave it to him because they couldn’t find anyone better at their price;” “I wonder what they thought was wrong with Smitty?”

If Smitty is truly good at what he does, he will succeed as manager. However, because of the manner in which his transition was handled, he will have an uphill struggle. He will have to work doubly hard to prove himself and to overcome linger- ing negative impressions.

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220

r e s P o n s e 28

tHe tiGHt deadliNe

Deadlines such as the one nurse manager Susan Wagner is facing present basic chal- lenges in prioritizing and properly managing the time commitment to a project while allowing for the contingencies and crises that may arise in any dynamic organization. Time is ultimately the scarcest resource, and unless it is properly managed little else can be accomplished adequately. In addition to being necessary for organizational control and growth, deadlines are important means of assessing time management skills.

The problems of the assignment of tasks and the management of time are impor- tant topics in decision theory. It is always possible that overuse of deadlines breeds conscious or unconscious hostility, but nevertheless the use of deadlines is considered essential to effective management.

In making the decision about when to complete the final formulation of the overtime report or any similar task, economy of effort is an important practical con- sideration. You want to “get the biggest bang for the buck” relative to the major con- straint, which in this case is time. Options include immediate and delayed processing. The psychological advantage of beginning the project could be enhanced through delegation of sorting and organizing processes to the secretary, Betsy Adams, who is already familiar with the process and forms. For Susan Wagner, the first option seems impractical and uneconomical, and the third option does not allow for interruptions or unplanned factors. In addition, the third option would demonstrate poor manage- rial skills and procrastination, thereby setting a bad example.

All factors considered, the second option seems to offer the best solution. This alternative would allow one full day to complete the assignment with an additional day (the due date) for emergencies or revisions. In addition, this option would allow the project to be completed with little interruption, which would help to ensure con- sistency and would enhance the sense of having finished the project.

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221

r e s P o n s e 29

teN MiNUtes to spare?

Each of the three options possesses advantages and disadvantages, with the disadvan- tages running the gamut from merely possible to highly likely.

Option 1, putting off Mr. Wade and promising to call him in the morning, would allow you to avoid an unneeded intrusion at a busy time. However, this solution might be annoying to Wade (although he had no appointment), and it might strike him as unnecessarily delaying resolution of a genuinely small matter.

Option 2, asking for a memo so you can consider the matter later, would also allow you to delay the intrusion. On the other hand, this choice adds work for the other party and again could be an unwarranted delay in resolving a small problem.

Option 3, seeing Mr. Wade and trying to limit the discussion to 5 or 10 minutes, could potentially resolve the open issue then and there without making it part of another day’s workload. However, there is a risk that the matter will prove too com- plicated to be resolved in 10 minutes or that the finance director, Wade, will simply tie you up for as long as he sees fit once he has his foot in the door.

Knowing no more than the case tells you about you and Mr. Wade, the cleanest, most sensible choice is the third option, meeting with Wade then and there. However, it is essential that you control the meeting. You need to make it clear that you have 10 minutes—tops—for this business, and you may need to reinforce this by getting ready to leave as your deadline approaches or politely ending the discussion when you’ve run out of time. As far as using your time is concerned, it may be efficient for you to deal with the problem at once and not have to face it later. However, if you allow Wade to exceed your time limit and cause you to be late for your commitment, then you have allowed someone else to dictate the use of your time.

If the “minor question” was important enough for Wade to bring to you, it prob- ably deserves your attention. If you can resolve it within a few minutes, it will be finished; if not, then it has to become part of the next day’s workload, as would be the case with any other option.

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222

r e s P o n s e 30

assiGNMeNt aNd reassiGNMeNt

This is the familiar problem involving conflict over a person’s ability to serve two masters with any amount of satisfaction. In this scenario, the director of nursing, Ms. Carey, violated two management principles, one more serious than the other, to achieve what she considered an effective and efficient delegation of authority and responsibility. Ms. Carey violated this in bypassing the formal chain of command and delegating assignments to an employee who was not her immediate subordinate. This type of end run around the assistant director, Ann Baker, seems unwarranted in this circumstance. At best, the action could go unnoticed; at worst, it could undermine the confidence of Carol Ames in assistant director Baker or lead to further confusion and distrust.

The second and more common violation was of the unity of command principle. This violation places the inservice director, Carol Ames, in conflict with the desires of her immediate superiors. In this position, Ms. Ames is forced to deal with poten- tially bruised egos of both her immediate supervisor and the director of nursing.

The delegation of functional authority to Ms. Ames for control of the nursing audit is within the realm of Ms. Carey’s control. It is not a radical violation of the unity of command principle, because the higher-level orders would also apply to all subordinates of the director of nursing, including Ann Baker. Carol Ames should immediately inform Ms. Baker of the change in plans, and Carol should convey her willingness to assist with completion of the inventory and cost report immediately after fulfilling her obligations with the nursing audit.

A successful resolution to this problem will involve tact and communication as well as cooperation between the parties. The new assignments, particularly the inven- tory, may be sufficiently nonurgent that their delay or reassignment should cause no problems. In any event, Ms. Carey was wrong in bypassing Ann Baker to delegate this assignment. She might best try to clarify the situation in a short meeting between the parties. Carol would do well to request such a meeting.

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223

r e s P o n s e 31

tHe UNreqUested iNforMatioN

As suggested by the initial option, you should indeed thank Nellie for her con- cern. However, asking her to report anything else she might hear is to be avoided; doing so would in effect designate Nellie as your “spy” in the group. Having a personal informant among the staff is bound to be destructive of working rela- tionships.

The second alternative is probably the best remedy for the immediate situa- tion. Her concern for the good of the department, if genuine, is appropriate, as is acknowledging that concern. You should certainly direct Nellie to bring you no further stories. In bringing you disturbing new and then urging your silence, Nellie has done little more for you than give you cause to worry about what may be going on in the department. In any event, there is nothing you could legitimately do anyway; it is always inappropriate to take action based on secondhand informa- tion (hearsay).

Concerning the third option, again, thank her and send her on her way. Consid- ering what you have heard you probably cannot avoid “keeping an eye” on Marge, whether you mean to or not.

This situation will have created in you a heightened awareness of problems within your department, which should in turn lead you to step up efforts at commu- nication within the group. Consider: probing for problems at staff meetings, holding “gripe sessions” for any who will participate, holding one-on-one meetings with your employees, offering staff a means of submitting complaints and suggestions anony- mously, and whatever else might bring problems into the open.

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224

r e s P o n s e 32

did He HaVe it CoMiNG?

We probably cannot answer the title question with absolute certainty, but it is reason- able to assume that Dan Smither had something coming because of his error. He did have coming some form of criticism; however, he did not deserve to be on the receiv- ing end of Peter Jackson’s emotional tirade.

Jackson’s approach was anything but constructive. In a brief exchange, Smither heard that his behavior was “idiotic,” that he “fiddled around” and “stalled,” and that he made a “major blunder.” Jackson also implied that Smither does not know his job. One need hardly wonder why Smither walked out of the office in anger.

The responsibility for this exchange rests with Jackson. It is unfortunate, how- ever, that Smither reacted to anger with anger—understandable, but nevertheless unfortunate—because Jackson is the organizational superior. If Jackson is suffi- ciently crude as a manager to criticize an employee in this fashion, it is also likely that he will allow an employee’s angry response to further prejudice his opinion of the employee.

One reasonable approach would start with Jackson requesting Smither’s analysis of the error—what happened, why it appears to have happened, and so forth. After they have gathered as much factual information as they can, they should discuss the problem in detail to determine whether there was indeed an error on Smither’s part and what steps should be taken to prevent its recurrence.

Jackson needs to be aware that criticism, to be effective, must be constructive; that is, it must embody guidance for correcting the offending behavior. And both par- ties—but especially Jackson, the boss—need to be aware that as anger increases in an interpersonal exchange, the potential for effective communication is diminished.

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225

r e s P o n s e 33

it’s His Job, Not MiNe

Delegation is fundamental to effective management. Delegation allows employees to feel valued and that they are part of a team and gives them the opportunity to learn new skills. The department benefits overall, and managers can focus on those tasks that require special attention.

This case, however, involved assignment, not delegation, and the employee felt burdened rather than flattered by the increased responsibility. Clues should have been noted in the initial lack of enthusiasm, as well as the later procrastination and lack of enthusiasm. Miller has also noted that narrow job descriptions can be a cause of the “It’s not my job” malaise. He feels that a job description should focus on the depart- ment and patient care, rather than the individual. Participative management will also be of value both in the short and long run here. If managers influence, rather than assign, employees will be committed to invest time and energy in production and performance.

To influence this employee, various “perks” might be assigned to the job. If this employee is interested in moving into management, letting the employee present the report to administration might be of personal value. Perhaps if the cover sheet for the report clearly lists the employee as author, this individual will be motivated by recognition. Giving the employee an afternoon at home to prepare the report is another strategy.

This employee may simply be unmotivated; however, if the manager employs the principles of participative management, employees will surface with an interest in furthering the goals of the department and themselves, not simply themselves.

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