Authority; General Management Practice; Leadership

who’s The Boss?

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Authority; General Management Practice; Leadership

“Since we began our total quality program I’ve gotten genuinely confused about who’s really running the department,” said supervisor Carrie Block. “I certainly don’t feel like it’s me these days.”

“Why is that?” asked her friend, Janet Mason. “We’ve got all these employee project groups working on a lot of things that

used to tie me up so much, and maybe that’s good. But it seems like I’m just not doing some of the things I’ve always been paid to do.”

Janet asked, “Like what?” “Like making some of the really hard decisions, like scheduling—who’s going

to work when has always been touchy—and like deciding on capital equipment pur- chases. These have always been tough, but I accept that. After all, it’s what they pay me for. But I seem to have lost control.”

Carrie continued, “It isn’t bad enough that I’ve got a dozen people going off in their own directions talking about this ‘empowerment’ stuff. There’s also the problem of Freddie the Expert.”

“Who’s that? I haven’t heard you mention a Freddie before.” “Just hired him a couple of months ago,” Carrie explained. “He seemed bright

and willing to work, maybe too much so. Willing—to take over, apparently. He’s never managed anything in his young life, but he’s taken a couple of management courses and he has all the answers.”

“Thus the ‘expert?’” Carrie nodded. “All the answers,” she repeated, adding, “and always absolutely

right—just ask him.” Carrie sighed wearily and said, “Between Freddie always challenging what I

say and telling everyone how to do their jobs, and these quality project groups who seem bound and determined to make all the decisions, I’m left feeling like I’ve been deposed. Who’s the boss, anyway? And if it isn’t me, what am I here for?”

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