Case Study # 2 –Danny’s Unhappy Duty
Employee Profiles: Carol Brown, Danny Winthrop, Thomas Fletcher
Carol, the Department Secretary for Purchasing and General Stores, has been
working at St. Louis Memorial Hospital for sixteen years, four of which have
been for the present Manager, Dan Winthrop. Carol likes her Boss, who gives
his employees more leeway than most. Carol’s main interests are her work and
her home—traits also typical of the other people who work in the Department.
Carol feels she is part of a close, cooperative group of employees.
Dan, or Danny, as he likes to be called, arrived at St. Louis Memorial four years
ago as a replacement for a Department manager who had been at the Hospital
for a number of years. Danny’s predecessor, Bill Taylor, was very strict in
everything from insisting that employees take exactly one-half hour for lunch
breaks to not having a coffee pot in the Department. When Danny came on
board as a Department Manager, his management style was much less strict.
The result was that Danny’s employees were much happier, and began to meet
and exceed expectations in getting their work done. St. Louis Memorial’s
previous CEO was a good friend and frequently complimented Danny on his
efficient and effective staff. Now a new CEO, Thomas Fletcher, has been hired
by the Hospital’s Board of Directors. Things are about to change.
Thomas Fletcher, new CEO and a recent graduate from a superior school of
hospital management, has always believed in “doing things by the book”.
Thomas originally had wanted to become a doctor, but decided two years into
the process that it was going to take him too long, and that he would be better
off becoming an administrator. He likes the idea of being an administrator,
and wants to be a good one. He has decided to start out his career at St. Louis
Memorial, of the smaller hospitals in the St. Louis area, but hopes to progress to a
a much larger facility in about four years, once he develops a track record at
St. Louis Memorial.
The Challenge: Communication, Criticism and Discipline, Leadership, Motivation,
Rules and Policies
Danny knows his employees quite well. They are generally a happy, cohesive, and cooperative group. They joke around a lot among themselves, but get the work done more than satisfactorily. All of them seem to give a
great deal to the hospital, and to Danny, it’s obvious that they care about what they’re doing. A couple of them come in a bit early, going over their plans for the day’s work over coffee before starting time. Although quitting time is 4:30 pm, all of them will stay to finish whatever they’re working on. Dan feels that he just couldn’t ask for a better group of employees.
The Challenge, continued…
One afternoon, however, things changed. Danny returned at about 3 pm from an outside meeting to be met by four grim faces reflecting varying degrees of gloom and anger. The department secretary, Carol, said, “The CEO is looking for you. In fact, three calls the last hour—although I said you weren’t due back until 3:00.”
The telephone rang. Carol answered it and after a few seconds said, “Yes, he just walked in. He’ll be right there.” Without an inkling of the problem Danny hurried to the CEO’s office, where Dan was greeted with a stern look and a firm instruction to close the door before seating himself. “I want to know whether you think you’re running a hospital department or a social club,” Thomas snapped. “What do you mean?” asked Danny.
Thomas said, “I was walking along the corridor near your office when I heard an awful racket coming from the stockroom. Laughing, practically shrieking, so loud I could hear it from two hundred feet up the hall. I went in and found all four of your staff eating lunch in the stockroom. Actually eating lunch in the department! Were
you aware that they did this?
“Certainly,” said Danny, “They’ve always done that. I wondered about it when I was new here, but I did enough research on the subject to convince myself that there was no rule against it”.
Thomas replied, “There are commonsense rules of behavior that I insist on. These should be sufficiently plain that they need not be written, and eating in the department is an obvious case. Why do you think we have a cafeteria?”
“Well,” said Danny, “you said before that it would not look good for someone to be eating lunch at the admissions desk, but that you believe it does not really matter in the case of the stockroom, as this is a closed area never entered by patients or visitors.”
“Well, I changed my mind—what’s good for one department should be good for all departments. And that goes for the coffeepot as well. I don’t permit coffeepots in the departments. Your people can get their coffee in the cafeteria at specified break times, just like everyone else!” Danny was not able to bite his tongue: “You know there’s a coffeepot in the dictating room of medical records. Of course, that’s used by doctors, as well.”
Thomas’s face was starting to get flushed. Dan’s remark triggered a few choice comments by Thomas about Dan’s poor attitude. It continued as a spontaneous and critical “performance evaluation” until just a few minutes before quitting time at 4:30. Danny tried his best to defend his staff, by talking about their flexibility and good-humored cooperation, no matter what the task. But Danny departed the conversation with a clear message to take back to his staff from Thomas: “We are running a health care organization in a businesslike fashion, and that means no boisterous laughter, no eating in the department, and no coffeepot.”
Danny arrived back at his department right at 4:30. He noticed his employees, grim faces and all, were the first persons in line at the time clock in the corridor. It was the first time he knew of that any of them had left at 4:30 on the dot!
The Resolution of the Problem?
Part 1 of the Assignment:
1. Assuming that Danny disagrees with the CEO’s directive, but recognizes that he is under orders to see that it is followed. How is he going to get the word across to his staff? (Reply to this question in at least
50 words). As staff morale has already been adversely affected and he has yet to reaffirm the order they received during the CEO’s surprise visit, what can Danny do to blunt the demotivating effects of this turn of events? (Also reply to this question in at least 50 words).