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Case Study Leadership

Case Study 1: Building a Team Joe is Maintenance Coordinator for a public university. Joe is responsible for all the building maintenance and physical systems on campus. He has a number of departments to accomplish the assigned workload. He has an Electrical Department, a Plumbing Department, an HVAC Department, a Carpentry Department, and a Painting Department. The workload for his departments has increased in the last several years as the physical plant continues to age. Joe requested to hire




  Case Study 1: Building a Team Joe is Maintenance Coordinator for a public university. Joe is responsible for all the buildingmaintenance and physical systems on campus. He has a number of departments toaccomplish the assigned workload. He has an Electrical Department, a PlumbingDepartment, an HVAC Department, a Carpentry Department, and a Painting Department.The workload for his departments has increased in the last several years as the physicalplant continues to age. Joe requested to hire additional workers, but the budget did notallow for it. It became apparent that Joe needed to find more creative ways to better utilizehis current resources in order to get more accomplished.Joe had observed that his departments were not working together well, or even at all, insome cases. It was common for one department to go into a building, “fix” a problem, and then leave a mess for the next department coming in behind them to do their part of thework. Workers seemed to think only about maximizing the output of their own departmentand finishing their own work quickly, with little regard for the impact on other departmentsand the long-term impact on the university.What could Joe do to better coordinate the work of his departments and make better use of the resources he has, so that more work can be accomplished with the limited budget?Allow your groups to discuss this and come up with strategies. After discussion of the case,ask the question: How could these same ideas be applied in our organization? Possible answers (for the Trainer or Facilitator).Joe could: ã Have each department select a team leader to represent them   ã Call a meeting of all team leaders, share his budget numbers with them, and explain that they will be expected to work together more closely ã Have each team lea der identify what he could do to help each of the other departments ã Continue to hold weekly meetings with team leaders so they get to know each other better, to share information, and to hear requests from each department for what theycould use from others ã Begin cross -training people in more than one trade in order to promote sharing of available workers between functions when the workload permits this Case Study 2: Poor Interpersonal Skills Jennifer is the Accounting Department manager for a regional chain of convenience stores. Jennifer is an accounting “superstar.” She has a bachelor’s degree, recently passed her CPA exam, and is really exceptional in her accounting knowledge.She was so good, in fact, that she was promoted to department manager in her previouscompany after only two years on the job. She has been at her current company for tenmonths. She has implemented two accounting procedural changes that have streamlinedthe work and resulted in cost savings for the company.  She reports to the CFO, and he is concerned about Jennifer, despite her obvious talents.There is no denying that she has had a positive impact, but Jennifer is not fitting in so well.Jennifer is a poor communicator and seems to have alienated quite a few of her peers andher employees.She is often aloof and distant, and her usual way of motivating performance is to simplydictate what will be done and expect compliance with her orders. She has good ideas buthas little ability to present them well or to work as part of a team. You are Jennifer’s CFO, and you believe you can coach Jennifer. How would you approach her and what would you say? What issues would you work with her on? How would you holdJennifer accountable for improvement on the issues you identified? For the Trainer or Facilitator  The CFO could: ã Make an appointment with Jennifer to talk privately   ã Offer specific and detailed feedback and observations about what he/she has seen that is of concern. Be direct but kind; ã Explain why her methods may be of conc ern and the impact they are having on others ã Identify a maximum of three change goals to which Jennifer will agree   ã Set specific behavioral objectives and ask her to document what she does in regard to each goal ã Agree to meet again (weekly?) to discus s progress ã Consider assigning Jennifer an in -house mentor in another department if available orsecuring the services of an outside coach to help train her in and encourage practice of human relations skills ã Let her know that her performance appraisals will reflect how she is performing in herleadership role in addition to her accounting role ã Be a good role model for building teamwork and collaboration   Your group may think of additional appropriate things that will help improve Jennifer’s performance. Case Study 4: SupervisingExperienced Workers Aden is considerably younger than most of the people he supervises. He has a degree, andis mechanically inclined. Right out of college he went to work for a local manufacturer in anon-the-job training program with an eye toward becoming a team leader. Aden learned histrade well and was promoted in just under a year to team leader. He is not only youngerthan anyone he supervises; he is better educated, too.How can Aden turn this situation into an advantage? How can he become a good supervisorof his older and more experienced workers? How can he better assure that he does notalienate his team members? For the Trainer or Facilitator Aden could:  ã Observe carefully and show interest in the jobs of all ope rators whose work he does notknow how to do well ã Get them to explain things to him   ã Ask simple questions so they can respond and “train” him   ã Spend time one -on-one with people ã Ask each worker what he can do to support them   ã Advocate for his people with his own boss and upper management ã Make good on promises or explain why he cannot do what was asked   ã Apply equitable performance standards and address any performance issues   ã Be friendly with his employees and keep his sense of humor  Your group may think of additional appropriate answers. If so, commend them. Case Study 6: Improving Productivity Coastal Bank is a large bank in a southeastern city. As a part of a comprehensive internalmanagement study, Harris Meade, the data processing vice president, examined theturnover, absenteeism, and productivity figures of all work groups in the organization. Theresults Meade obtained contained no real surprises except in the case of the check-sortingand data-processing departments.The ResearchThe inquiry revealed that in general the departments displaying high turnover andabsenteeism rates had low production figures, and those with low turnover and absenteeismwere highly productive. No surprise there.When analysis began on the check-sorting and data-processing figures, however, Meadediscovered that both departments were tied for the lead for the lowest turnover andabsenteeism figures. What was surprising was that the check-sorting department rankedfirst as the most productive unit, whereas the electronic data-processing department rankedlast.That inconsistency was further complicated by the fact that the working conditions forcheck-sorting employees are extremely undesirable. They work in a large open room that ishot in the summer and cold in the winter. They work alone and operate high-speed check-sorting machines requiring a high degree of accuracy and concentration. There is littlechance for interaction because they all take rotating coffee breaks.The computer room is air-conditioned, with a stable temperature year round; it has perfectlighting and is extremely quiet and comfortable. It was known that both groups are highlycohesive and that the workers generally function well with others in their department. Thisobservation was reinforced by the study’s finding of the low levels of turnover and absenteeism in both departments.The Interview DataIn an effort to understand this phenomenon (similar productivity despite vastly differentconditions), Meade decided to interview the members of both departments. Meade hoped to gain some insight into the dynamics of each group’s behavior. It was discovered that the check-sorting department displayed a great deal of loyalty to the company. Most of thegroup was unskilled or semiskilled workers; although they have no organized union, each  person felt that the company had made special efforts to keep their wages and benefits inline with unionized operations. They knew that their work required team effort and werecommitted to high performance.A quite different situation existed in the data-processing department. Although the workersliked their fellow employees, there was a uniform feeling among this highly skilled groupthat management placed more emphasis on production than on staff units. It was theircontention that pay increases had been better for operating departments and that the gapbetween the wage earners and salaried employees did not reflect the skill differences.Because of that, a large percentage of the group displayed little loyalty toward thecompany, even though they were very close among themselves.The ChallengeThere is some degree of urgency to improve productivity in this situation. A major competitor in the region is increasing its market share, while Coastal Bank’s marke t share istrending downward in the last two quarters. One challenge the bank faces is how to makethe data-processing unit more productive. Other low-performing departments may needfocus as well, particularly in the areas of absenteeism and turnover. It is possible thatsystem-wide change may be needed.You are Harris Meade and you are tasked with improving productivity throughout the bank:HOW do you decide on the best course of action? What is the best method to make thedecision? HOW do you implement any change that may be needed? Suggestion for use: have learners answer the case study individually. Then break them into small groups to discuss and come to some consensus. There is no “right” or “wrong”  answer in this case study, as is true of many leadership decisions. The best a leader can dois to align with organizational priorities, seek the input of others, develop reasonable plans,and try to make a thoughtful decision.It is probably a good idea, in this case, to appoint a cross-functional team composed of workers from each department and other bank departments, too, to makerecommendations to management.