Communication; Leadership; Motivation

assiGNMeNt aNd reassiGNMeNt

Primary Topic—Delegation

Additional Topics—Communication; Leadership; Motivation

Carol Ames was director of inservice education at James Memorial Hospital. She reported to Ann Baker, assistant director of nursing, who in turn reported to Helen Carey, director of nursing.

One morning, as Carol sat working in her office, Ms. Carey entered and said, “Come and have a cup of coffee, Carol. There’s something I’d like to talk with you about.”

When they had gotten their coffee and found seats in a quiet corner of the caf- eteria, Ms. Carey said, “How busy are you these days, Carol? There’s something I’d like you to do for me.”

Carol answered, “I’m almost overloaded right now. I don’t have much time to spare.”

“I didn’t think your teaching schedule was too full just now, at least not since you finished the nursing leadership program,” Ms. Carey said. “What’s taking up your time?”

“It’s true that my class schedule is only moderate right now. That’s probably why Ann just gave me a couple of new assignments.”

Ms. Carey asked, “What assignments?” “For one thing, she’s given me just 2 weeks to compile an inventory of instruc-

tional materials and training aids throughout the hospital. Also, she’s having me do a report about the costs of supplying employee education. It’s long and com- plicated, and it has to be submitted to the State Hospital Association by the first of the month.”

Ms. Carey said, “Well, it has suddenly become very important that we get moving on the development of our new nursing audit criteria. I think you suspected this was coming. We’re under pressure from administration to do something about nursing audits, and we don’t have much time to do it.”

Carol asked, “Where do I fit in?” Ms. Carey answered, “You’re in the best position to take charge of the nursing

audit committee. It will be up to you to convene the committee as necessary and get the criteria developed on time.”

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“But what do I do about the inventory and the cost report? Surely I’m not going to have time for everything.”

“Of course you won’t have time for everything,” said Ms. Carey. “Ann will have to find some other way to get the cost report done, and the inventory will just have to wait.”

“Is Ann aware of this?” Carol asked. “No,” responded Ms. Carey. “I want you to bring her up to date. And please

stress the importance of the audit activity.” At this point Ms. Carey excused herself. Carol got a second cup of coffee and sat

by herself to ponder the situation. She felt that her immediate supervisor, Ann, had been quite clear about what she expected over the coming weeks. However, Carol now found herself wondering how to tell her boss that her commitments had been changed by higher authority.


1. What fundamental management error was committed? 2. What would you recommend that Carol Ames do about the situation in which

she finds herself at present?

82 Case 30: Assignment and Reassignment

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