Based on what you believe to be sound management practice, develop an approach the three supervisors might take

oNe Boss Too maNy

Primary Topic—Leadership

Additional Topics—Authority; Communication; Decision Making; General Management Practice; Motivation

The engineering and maintenance groups of Memorial Hospital are headed by three first-line supervisors. These supervisors and a department secretary report directly to a manager of engineering and maintenance, who in turn reports to the director of environmental services.

The institution is in the midst of a prolonged period of growth and expansion owing mostly to merger and acquisition. Almost weekly some organizational unit or other is being located to new quarters or drastically rearranged within its original area. The institution promises to be in a chronic state of change for some time to come, with much extra effort required by engineering and maintenance as numerous areas are opened, renovated, or rearranged.

The position of director of environmental services was created at the start of this period of major change. The incumbent was hired specifically for his apparent abil- ity to get a new operation up and running through active involvement of personnel at all levels.

The director was quick to discover that his immediate subordinate, the manager of engineering and maintenance, came across as a man of considerable inertia who moved slowly, was reluctant to change, and usually defended “the way we’ve always done things.”

Although the manager had longstanding relationships with the three supervisors, the director began avoiding the manager and dealing directly with the first-line super- visors. Most matters, however, found their way back to the manager, who would then take action or give instructions contrary to what the director had done.

After several weeks in this mode of operation, one of the first-line supervisors summed up the circumstances as follows: “We now have two bosses, and they’re opposed to each other on everything. What one decides, the other reverses; what one puts together, the other tears apart. They can’t even agree on anything as basic as an obvious need for disciplinary action. How do we go about maintaining effectiveness in dealing with our employees, and how do we prevent morale and inefficiency from going straight down the drain?”

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Instructions:

Deal with the question posed by the supervisors in the final paragraph of the case. Based on what you believe to be sound management practice, develop an approach the three supervisors might take. State any assumptions you may have to make, and fully explain the reasons for your recommended approach.

Case 60: One Boss Too Many      127

© Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC. NOT FOR SALE OR DISTRIBUTION. 8645

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