Authority; Communication; Delegation; Leadership; Motivation

it isN’t iN tHe Job desCriptioN

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Authority; Communication; Delegation; Leadership; Motivation

George Morton, the hospital’s maintenance supervisor, felt growing frustration with the behavior of mechanic Jeff Thompson. Morton considered Thompson a good mechanic, and this opinion was regularly reinforced by the consistently high quality of Thompson’s preventive maintenance work and by his success at difficult repair jobs. The problem stemmed from Thompson’s apparent lack of motivation; he seemed always to need to be told what to do next. If not directly instructed, when he finished a job he would take a prolonged break until Morton sought him out and gave him a specific assignment.

Morton’s frustration peaked one day when a small plumbing problem got out of hand and became a large problem. He knew that Thompson must have seen the leak- ing valve, because it was beside the pump on which Thompson had been working. However, when Morton asked why he had done nothing about the valve, Thompson said, “Plumbing isn’t part of my job.”

“You could have at least reported the problem,” Morton said. Thompson shrugged. “There’s nothing in my job description about reporting

anything. I do what I’m paid to do, and I stick to my job description.” “You certainly do,” said Morton. “Jeff, you’re a good mechanic. But you never

extend yourself in anyway, never reach out and take care of something without being told.”

“I’m not paid to reach out and extend myself. You’re the boss, and I do what I’m told. And I do it right.”

“I know you do it right,” Morton agreed, “but I also know that you usually take longer than you need to. I know you’re capable of giving a lot more to the job, but for some reason or other you’re not willing to work up to your capabilities.”

Again Thompson shrugged. “I stick to my job description and do what I’m told.”


Putting yourself in George Morton’s position, consider some possible ways of deal- ing with employee Thompson. Provide a number of steps or guidelines that you might recommend in an attempt to get Thompson to perform more in line with his capabilities.

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