The Challenge Communication Criticism And Discipline Leadership Motivation Rules And Policies

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).

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