Authority; Communication; Leadership

tHe UNreqUested iNforMatioN

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Authority; Communication; Leadership

One morning more than a half hour before the start of your department’s normal working hours you were enjoying a cup of coffee in a quiet corner of the cafeteria, sorting through some low-priority reading material, when you were approached by one of your employees. The employee, Nellie Morris, one of your most senior staff in years of service, seated herself across from you without invitation and said, “There’s something I have to talk to you about—I’ve simply waited far too long.”

Nellie Morris proceeded to tell you—“In strictest confidence, please, I know you’ll understand”—that another long-term employee, Marge Greely, has been making a great many derogatory comments throughout the department about you and your management style and generally calling your competence into question.

You heard a considerable number of “she saids” and “she dids” and a smattering of apparently second-hand or twice-told tales, but no specific incidents that you could identify jumped out at you and initially you were too surprised to ask for clarification.

For the greater part of 10 minutes Nellie showered you with criticism of you, your management style, and your approach to individual employees, all attributed to Marge Greely. On exhausting her litany Nellie proclaimed that she did not ordi- narily “carry tales,” but that she felt you “had a right to know, for the good of the department—but please don’t tell her I said anything.”


Should you:

• Thank Nellie for her concern and ask her to report anything else she might hear? • Acknowledge her concern for the good of the department, but ask her to bring

you no further stories? • Thank her, ask her to say nothing to anyone else, and decide for yourself to

keep an eye on Marge Greely?

What would you do instead of or perhaps in addition to taking one of the preceding three approaches?

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