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Mary Herzen felt lucky to be hired for the supervisory position in the Patient Services Depart-ment at North side Hospital. She had lost a similar job at Central Hospital three months earlier. Chris Sapiro was Mary’s boss and had conducted the selection process. It took him five months to fill the position as a result of the internal job-announcement and job-interviewing procedures.
Two employees in the Patient Services Department had applied for the supervisory job: Juanita Ramirez, 32, who had been in the department for eight years, and Sue Williamson, 26, who had less experience. Both were rejected because they were not seen as strong enough to be promoted. Chris told Mary about this when he met with her on Mary’s first day on the job. He suggested that Juanita might be a problem and told Mary to handle it the way she saw best. He then took her to the department, introduced her to the staff, and left her to settle in. Later that day, Mary held meetings with each of her new employees.
The meeting with Juanita turned out as predicted: she was defensive, uncommunicative, and noncommittal. For example, Mary wanted to learn what Juanita’s job duties were, but could not get adequate replies. Finally, in exasperation, Juanita began arguing that it was Mary’s job to tell Juanita what to do. Mary replied that they would have problems if this was as well as they were going to communi-cate. Juanita then told Mary that she had not been promoted because she was Hispanic, and accused the hospital of discrimination. She began to cry and said she was not going to answer any more questions. Answers to Case Questions
1. Should Chris have informed Mary about the internal applicants before offering Mary the job? Yes. It is important to give job applicants all relevant information about the job for which they are applying. This is especially true for information that might be considered negative. The bulk of research in this area makes it clear that “realistic job previews” are very important for creating the most favorable initial job conditions. 2. Was meeting with each employee as part of Mary’s orientation a good idea? Although Mary’s idea was backed by good intentions, problems resulted. In general, individ-ual and group meetings both have advantages and disadvantages, and whether one would work better than another for a new supervisor is a matter of personal judgment.
One obvious advantage of a group meeting is that certain messages from the new supervisor can be given to everyone at the same time. Another advantage is that the presence of a group has the potential to pressure employees into opening up and sharing what is on their minds. In Mary’s situation, a group meeting could have been especially helpful in this regard, creating an environment in which Juanita felt additional pressure to be more forthcoming. It should also be noted that a new supervisor can also follow up a group meeting with individual meetings, thus combining the two methods.
3. Evaluate the agenda Mary used. How could it be improved? Again, the general intention was appropriate, although the execution was not as good as it could have been. The purpose of the introductory meetings is to initiate dialogue. Mary needed to share information as well as receive it. A more suitable agenda would have Mary share information on such matters as her personal background and goals, her leadership style and practices, her priorities for the near term, and how she would like to work with the employees. She should ask each employee for informa-tion on their job duties, where they stand on projects, any particular problems they are experiencing, and anything else they can tell Mary that would help her supervise
CASE STUDY 2:
Right Boss, Wrong Company
Betty Kesmer was continuously on top of things. In school, she had always been at the top of her class. When she went to work for her uncle’s shoe business, Fancy Footwear, she had been singled out as the most productive employee and the one with the best attendance. The company was so impressed with her that it sent her to get an M.B.A. to groom her for a top management position. In school again, and with three years of practical experience to draw on, Kesmer had gobbled up every idea put in front of her, relating many of them to her work at Fancy Footwear. When Kesmer graduated at the top of her class, she returned to Fancy Footwear. To no one’s surprise, when the head of the company’s largest division took advantage of the firm’s early retirement plan, Kesmer was given his position.
Kesmer knew the pitfalls of being suddenly catapulted to a leadership position, and she was determined to avoid them. In business school, she had read cases about family businesses that fell apart when a young family member took over with an iron fist, barking out orders, cutting personnel, and destroying morale. Kesmer knew a lot about participative management, and she was not going to be labeled an arrogant know-it-all.
Kesmer’s predecessor, Max Worthy, had run the division from an office at the top of the building, far above the factory floor. Two or three times a day, Worthy would summon a messenger or a secretary from the offices on the second floor and send a memo out to one or another group of workers. But as Kesmer saw it, Worthy was mostly an absentee autocrat, making all the decisions from above and spending most of his time at extended lunches with his friends from the Elks Club.
Kesmer’s first move was to change all that. She set up her office on the second floor. From her always-open doorway she could see down onto the factory floor, and as she sat behind her desk she could spot anyone walking by in the hall. She never ate lunch herself but spent the time from 11 to 2 down on the floor, walking around, talking, and organizing groups.
The workers, many of whom had twenty years of seniority at the plant, seemed surprised by this new policy and reluctant to volunteer for any groups. But in fairly short order, Kesmer established a worker productivity group, a “Suggestion of the Week” committee, an environmental group, a worker award group, and a management relations group. Each group held two meetings a week, one without and one with Kesmer. She encouraged each group to set up goals in its particular focus area and develop plans for reaching those goals. She promised any support that was within her power to give.
The group work was agonizingly slow at first. But Kesmer had been well trained as a facilitator, and she soon took on that role in their meetings, writing down ideas on a big board, organizing them, and later communicating them in notices to other employees. She got everyone to call her “Betty” and set herself the task of learning all their names. By the end of the first month, Fancy Footwear was stirred up.
But as it turned out, that was the last thing most employees wanted. The truthfinally hit Kesmer when the entire management relations committee resigned at the start of their fourth meeting. “I’m sorry, Ms. Kesmer,” one of them said. “We’re good at making shoes, but not at this management stuff. A lot of us are heading toward retirement. We don’t want to be supervisors.”
Astonished, Kesmer went to talk to the workers with whom she believed she had built good relations. Yes, they reluctantly told her, all these changes did make them uneasy. They liked her, and they didn’t want to complain. But given the choice, they would rather go back to the way Mr. Worthy had run things. They never saw Mr. Worthy much, but he never got in their hair. He did his work, whatever that was, and they did theirs. “After you’ve been in a place doing one thing for so long,” one worker concluded, “the last thing you want to do is learn a new way of doing it.” QUESTIONS: What factors should have alerted Kesmer to the problems that eventually came up at Fancy Footwear? Could Kesmer have instituted her changes without eliciting a negative reaction from the workers? If so, how?
Case study 3:
Mini Case Study on Leadership and Dysfunctional Management
“Trouble in a Mental Health Center” Alessandro Cavelzani, Ph.D., Psy.D.
Ten years ago, a well-known and highly respected hospital located in the center of Rome, opened its Mental Health Center dealing patients with anxiety issues and depression. The administration and its staff included a lead psychoanalyst and four psychologists who were serving as unpaid interns. The leader of the Center supervised the interns who meet weekly in order to help them solve difficulties with patients and to offer clinical suggestions,based on his years of experience. Despite their busy schedules, the interns were required to prepare weekly written reports about their patients for the supervision session with the lead psychologist. The four psychologists felt comfortable, supported, and generally happy with their training.
In the past ten years, the Mental Health Center has grown tremendously. It has become well-known in Rome and abroad as a well-organized, professionally run mental health center for psychological treatment. Three years ago, the administrative leader of the Center retired. The Human Resources department of the hospital recruited and hired Dr.xxx, a well-known external psychiatrist, as the new administrative leader and chief psychiatrist for the Mental Health Center. The new Mental Health Center leader has been given a part-time (three days per week) contract because he has other professional commitments at the university and in his own private practice.
The Center’s popularity has grown over time. Many local citizens and some foreigners have sought psychological treatment at the Center. To handle the increased patient load, Dr.xxx has increased staff psychologists-in-training from four to eight. In order to provide amore thorough treatment service, Dr. xxx has also added a second group of eight cognitive psychologist interns. Now there are sixteen psychologists-in-training, evenly split between psychoanalytic and cognitive psychologists.Dr. xxx’s many commitments have forced him to schedule supervision meetings with the psychologists approximately every two weeks. Now however the meetings are very tense.Many psychologists try to discuss patients enigma, but the scheduled time is insufficient to accommodate all sixteen psychologists.
An additional problem concerns divergent professional philosophies about treatment plans (psychoanalytic vs cognitive), proposed respectively by the two different groups of psychologists. Often, it is almost impossible to reach a common understanding or to compromise on treatment plans for patients. Some young practitioners are voicing complaints that the supervision meetings are useless because Dr. xxx has limited time to help them with the most challenging patient dilemmas. As a result, now only five psychologists –fewer than a third- attend Dr. xxx’s bi- weekly sessions. The other practitioners argue they cannot do any pro-bono
work, because they aren’t allowed to leave their offices to attend to