Authority; Leadership; Time Management and Personal Effectiveness

Get baCk to yoU iN a MiNUte

Primary Topic—Communication

Additional Topics—Authority; Leadership; Time Management and Personal Effectiveness

You are the laundry manager at Community Hospital and you report to the director of support services. You have just been through a particularly trying week, and you have concluded that your relationship with the director of support services is not in the best of shape. You review the contacts you had with your boss during the week.

Monday morning a personnel problem arose that you felt could require severe disciplinary action. You thought you had better clear the action with your boss. How- ever, you could not reach him. You called his office three times; each time you spoke with his secretary who said she would have him return your call. Monday ended without a response from the boss.

Tuesday you encountered your boss in a basement corridor when he was going in the opposite direction. As you moved directly toward him so as to nearly block his passage, you told him you needed to see him on a matter of some importance. With- out slowing, he detoured around you and called back over his shoulder, “Something’s up—can’t stop. Get back to you in a minute.” You didn’t see him again that day. When you called his office you were told he was in a meeting.

Wednesday morning you decided to visit the boss’s office. However, you found he had two visitors. He saw you at the door and shrugged, smiled faintly, and waved you away. That afternoon you telephoned the boss’s office. His secretary was away from her desk and he answered his own phone and immediately told you he was tied up with someone and added, “Buzz you back as soon as I’m free.” You remained nearly an hour after quitting time but he did not “buzz you back.” When you left you noticed that his office was dark.

Thursday you made no effort to contact the boss. Rather, because the item you had been holding open since Monday was still plaguing you and someone needed an answer, you went ahead and used your best judgment and took care of it. You felt you were perhaps overstepping your authority a bit, but you knew that further delay would only cause harm.

Friday you encountered the boss twice while you were moving about the lower level of the building. The first time you told him you needed to get a few minutes of

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his time. He told you he was on his way to the president’s office but he would get back to you shortly. Nothing. On the second occasion he saw you before you saw him, and he called out, “Hey, we need to get together. I’m on the way to a meet- ing, but catch me in my office at about 4 o’clock.” The boss was not in his office at 4:00 pm. Neither was he there at 4:30 pm, the normal quitting time, nor was he there at 5:00 pm when you left for the weekend. You learned on the way out of the building that the boss’s meeting had ended at 3:30 pm.

Upon review you felt that the week, taken in its entirety, looked pretty grim. Unfortunately, you had experienced too many such weeks.

Instructions:

There are two general approaches you can adopt to handle the problem of working with this particular boss. You can:

• Mount an all-out effort to get his attention, focusing on getting him into situ- ations in which he cannot avoid dealing with you for at least a few minutes.

• Decide to do your own thing, doing your job as you see fit and handling all decisions that arise regardless of where they fall relative to your scope of authority.

Determine how you might develop these approaches, including what specific steps you might consider in either or both cases, and identify all possible pitfalls and hazards present in both.

Case 22: Get Back to You in a Minute 69

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