Criticism and Discipline; Delegation; Employee Problems and Problem Employees

wHat’s tHe trUtH?

Primary Topic—Communication

Additional Topics—Criticism and Discipline; Delegation; Employee Problems and Problem Employees

“I’ve really had it with that Stan Thomas,” said maintenance supervisor Tom Davis to his boss, Harry Willis, director of building services.

“What’s wrong?” Willis asked. “You mean what’s wrong this time,” said Davis. “It’s been one thing after another

longer than I care to think about. This time I’d call it insubordination. He refused to clean up the scraps and leftover construction material behind the new business office when I told him to.”

“A direct refusal of your direct order?” “Not right away,” said Davis. “First I put it in the form of a request, but he started

making excuses about how much he had to do. I told him it had to be cleaned up today and he simply told me he had so much important work that he didn’t know if he could get at it today. When I told him he had to do it today he simply glared at me for a moment and said, ‘No way.’”

“No way?” Willis asked. “Those were his exact words?” “Yes. His exact words.” “We’ll see about that,” said Willis. Some time later, just before the end of the shift, Tom Davis located Stan Thomas.

Thomas was performing the task that had been the focus of the earlier difficulty. When he saw Davis, Thomas stopped working, glared at him, and said, “I would have gotten this done as soon as I got a few things caught up. You didn’t have to sic your boss on me. And you especially didn’t have to tell him what you told him.”

“What are you talking about?” Thomas said coolly, “You lied to Willis about what I said to you. I don’t forget

things like that.” Davis tried to get Thomas to explain further what he meant by that remark. How-

ever, Thomas would say nothing else. Tom Davis went looking for Harry Willis.

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Questions:

Assess the foregoing incident and its possible causes, implications, and ramifications, from: (a) Tom Davis’s point of view; (b) Harry Willis’s point of view.

1. Considering the present state of affairs, what—if anything—would you rec- ommend doing?

56 Case 14: What’s the Truth?

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