Employee Relationship Case Study

Jenny has been a secretary in your office for seven years. The atmosphere in the office is relaxed and friendly, and staff often refer to it as one big family. Everyone gets along and seems to like each other. Over the last year, though, you have noticed that Jenny spends a lot of time taking personal calls on her cell phone, and chatting with clientele and the other secretary about non-work subjects. The other two managers have both complained to you that they think it�s beginning to interfere with the productivity of the office.

Jenny has received an overall performance rating of �Exceeds Expectations� over the past three years. Jenny is sometimes overly sensitive, so you are not sure how she will react to your addressing the situation.

As Jenny�s manager, how should you handle this situation?

Meet with the other managers to get specifics on the effect Jenny�s talkative behavior is having on the office needs. Evaluate the specifics to determine expectations to be discussed with Jenny.

Meet with Jenny and begin the discussion about her behavior:

Remind Jenny that she is a valued member of the team.

Point out that you don�t want to be a micromanager and that you trust employees to balance personal and work time.

State that when personal time at work begins to interfere with productivity of the office, it must be addressed.

Provide specific examples of how Jenny�s behavior has impacted productivity.

Establish performance expectations.

Discuss any underlying issues as to why the behavior is occurring, such as too little workload, not enough challenges, etc.

Let Jenny know that you will trust her to use her judgment to correct the situation on her own at this point, and reiterate your confidence in her performance. Reinforce that Jenny has always been an above-average performer and that you are certain this recent issue will be corrected.

- Kathy VanPaemel
Employee Relations consultant

Managerial Practices That Promote Voice and Taking Charge among Frontline Workers

by Julia Rose Adler-Milstein, Sara J. Singer & Michael W. Toffel

How can front-line workers be encouraged to speak up when they know how to improve an organization's operation processes? This question is particularly urgent in the US health- care industry, where problems occur often and consequences range from minor inconveniences to serious patient harm. In this paper, HBS doctoral student Julia Adler-Milstein, Harvard School of Public Health professor Sara Singer, and HBS professor Michael W. Toffel examine the effectiveness of organizational information campaigns and managerial role modeling in encouraging hospital staff to speak up when they encounter operational problems and, when speaking up, to propose solutions to hospital management. The researchers find that both mechanisms can lead employees to report problems and propose solutions, and that information campaigns are particularly effective in departments whose managers are less engaged in problem solving. Key concepts include: Front-line workers offer more solutions to operational problems in departments whose managers are more engaged in problem solving. Information campaigns that promote process improvement generate more solutions from front-line workers, especially from workers whose managers are less routinely engaged in problem solving. Efforts at the organizational level can compensate for managers who cannot or do not create an environment that inspires front-line workers to speak up. Closed for comment; 0 Comment(s) posted.

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