Communication; Criticism and Discipline; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Leadership; Motivation

tHe CliNGiNG ViNe

Primary Topic—Delegation

Additional Topics—Communication; Criticism and Discipline; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Leadership; Motivation

“I feel like I have an open line of communication with Brenda,” said building services supervisor, May Carey, “and maybe that’s part of the problem. She never hesitates to come to me about even the smallest matter that she ought to know she can take care of without me. She checks in with me so often that I feel I might as well be doing her work in addition to my own.”

Jane Scott, a head nurse and May’s carpool companion, said, “Maybe you ought to be glad that she keeps you informed. I wish some of my nurses were better about bringing things to my attention. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as too much communication.”

“In this case there is too much,” said May. “Half of what Brenda brings to me is simple stuff, regular parts of her job that she’s expected to take care of. And she’s always asking me what to do next—and if she can’t find me right away, she doesn’t do anything until I show up and give her new instructions.”

Jane asked, “How did Brenda get along with your predecessor? Same problem?” “I don’t know. The last supervisor’s style was a lot different from mine. She

seemed very authoritarian in the way she ran the department.” “Do you suppose Brenda ever got in trouble for not checking in? That may be

why she thinks she’s expected to do what she’s doing.” “I don’t know that either,” May answered. “There’s been so much to do that I

haven’t really begun to uncover all of the major problems in the department. I’ve been stalled for 6 months just trying to get at our antiquated job descriptions.”

“Well,” said Jane, “I should think you’d be glad to have the open communication that you have with Brenda.”

“I am,” said May, “and I’d like to keep it. But how can I go about getting her to work more independently without damaging that open line of communication?”


Develop a recommended approach for May to follow in instilling more independence in Brenda while attempting to maintain open communication with her.

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