Authority; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; General Management Practice; Meeting Leadership; Motivation

tHe eNeMy CaMps

Primary Topic—Criticism and Discipline

Additional Topics—Authority; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; General Management Practice; Meeting Leadership; Motivation

Helen Williams was hired from outside of the hospital to fill the position of business office manager. She accepted the job suspecting that it was something of a “hot seat”; she was to be the fifth person in that position in just 3 years.

Although Helen did not know the specific reasons behind the short stays of her predecessors, after a month she decided that the atmosphere in the department was definitely unhealthy. Her staff appeared to be divided into two distinct rival camps. There was so much animosity between these groups that Helen began to think of them as “Enemy Camp A” and “Enemy Camp B.” (Helen kept the “enemy” designa- tion to herself, but she often referred in conversations with her superior to “Camp A and Camp B.”)

From her first day on the job, it was apparent to Helen that many of the problems in the department stemmed from poor intradepartmental communications. She was surprised to learn, for instance, that her immediate predecessor never held department staff meetings. Instead, the previous supervisor met sporadically with groups of two or three people to deal with specific problems.

Helen instituted the practice of holding a weekly 30-minute staff meeting for all of her employees. She made it plain that everyone was expected to attend.

After 4 months of staff meetings it seemed to Helen that the atmosphere of rivalry between the “camps” had diminished substantially. However, it was still evident that the group was divided on many matters. It also seemed to Helen that “Camp A” was becoming her group in the sense that these people were steadily becoming more supportive of her and her approach to managing the department. Unfortunately, this condition seemed to ensure that “Camp B” would often be opposed to Helen herself on matters in which full staff cooperation was vital.

Early in Helen’s seventh month on the job she received a quiet visit from Jeanette Woods, a longstanding member of “Camp A.” Jeanette informed Helen that she had heard Sandy Davis, an acknowledged informal leader within “Camp B,” admit to snooping in Helen’s office and reading a number of confidential documents. When

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Helen reminded Jeanette that most if not all of her confidential records were kept in a locked drawer, Jeanette responded with some reluctance, “I think Sandy has a key to your desk.”

Helen’s first reaction to Jeanette’s revelation was to consider how she could suc- cessfully discipline Sandy without compromising Jeanette.

Instructions:

Consider the problem in terms of the following questions:

1. What hazards is Helen likely to face in taking direct action against Sandy based on what she heard from Jeanette? Why should she—or why should she not—take such action?

2. What would you do if you were in Helen’s position?

48 Case 10: The Enemy Camps

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