General Management Practice

why doesN’T aNyoNe Tell me?

Primary Topic—Communication

Additional Topic—General Management Practice

On Monday of this week, business office manager Carrie Owens learned that one of her key staff members had decided not to return to work after her maternity leave. Carrie learned this first from one of her employees, but it was confirmed later that day by the hospital’s employee health service.

That same day, she was asked by two employees whether the hospital’s new policy on vacation accruals would affect their vacation banks. Since she had heard nothing on this subject, she asked them where their concern had come from. One employee said she saw it in writing in the accounting office; the other said, “Barry told me.” (Barry was the director of patient services and, not incidentally, Carrie’s immediate superior.) It was Wednesday before Carrie received a copy of the policy change.

The two foregoing occurrences left Carrie feeling that she was a step behind most of her employees in receiving information of importance to her department. This feeling was intensified on Thursday. That day she received a call from a fellow manager asking why she was not at an important meeting that was already starting. Hastily saying that she knew nothing about the meeting, Carrie dropped everything to attend. When she returned to her department after the meeting, she found an announcement for the meeting in her mail tray. It had not been there that morning when she emptied the tray as she did each day, but it was dated 5 days earlier.

By the end of the week, Carrie was feeling considerable frustration with com- munication practices within the hospital organization. As she said to a good friend over breakfast on Saturday, “I feel totally out of the mainstream of information, espe- cially when my employees hear about things before I do. Why doesn’t anyone tell me what’s going on?”


Unlike previous cases, this is not asking the reader to describe what is wrong in the situation. We can safely conclude that, for whatever reasons, communication within

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Carrie’s hospital organization leaves much to be desired. Rather, you are asked to suggest what Carrie can do—what actions she can take and how—to improve her overall communication posture in the organization and generally increase her chances of receiving the information she needs to do her job. In other words, what can she do to improve organizational communication for herself?

106      Case 47: Why Doesn’t Anyone Tell Me?

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