Communication; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Leadership; Motivation

yoU’re tHe boss

Primary Topic—Delegation

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

“I don’t think this is the approach to take at all,” said accountant Harold Winslow to his manager, finance director James Ross.

This response had not been unanticipated; Ross, in his second month on the job, had already come to expect Winslow to oppose almost every assignment he handed out or every course of action he recommended. Ross was especially frustrated with his less-than-satisfactory relationship with Winslow because he recognized this long- time employee of the hospital as a capable accountant who was highly knowledge- able of healthcare finance and reimbursement.

Ross asked, “And why do you think it isn’t right?” “It just isn’t, that’s all,” said Winslow, who then added, “It’s unlike anything

we’ve ever done. If this sort of thing really worked we’d have done it long ago.” “Was this plan ever considered? Or one like it?” Winslow shrugged. “Don’t know.” Ross took a deep breath. “Look Harold,” he began, “I’ve got my orders—and

there are orders involved—and I believe this is probably the best way of doing what we’ve got to do. And since you have more knowledge of this area than anyone else in the organization, I’ll need you to take the lead on this project.”

“Of course I’ll do it, if that’s what you’re telling me to do,” said Winslow. “More than that,” said Ross. “I need you to own the project, to innovate, to look at

it in ways that never occurred to me. I need you to do the best job you can do on this.” Again Winslow shrugged, his mask of skepticism unchanged, and he said, “You

tell me to do it, I do it. You’re the boss.” After they parted Ross could not help feel uneasy about the assignment, even

though Winslow was technically the best person available.


1. What can Ross do to try to get Winslow to willingly apply his full knowledge and experience to the assignment?

2. What might be behind Winslow’s apparent lack of motivation, and how should Ross address this problem overall?

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