The New Manager
Mark Auerson is a newly hired supervisor in the Shipping department of a medium-sized organization. Mark has worked for several years and gone to school at night to complete his Business degree in Supply & Logistics. He is a bit nervous because this is his first formal supervisory position and his first experience working in Shipping. Mark has been hired to work for a mid-level manager who has a reputation for running a ‘tight ship.’ On Mark’s first day, he called Mark into his office and provided him with a comprehensive, detailed description of how he expected him to conduct his supervisory functions. Although Mark appreciated having some guidelines, he was a bit put off by the level of ‘micro managing’ reflected in the instructions. He also informed Mark that there was a push from “the top” to increase the efficiency of all departments, and that he would like him to pay attention to this issue in Shipping.
Mark was now in charge of a group of 15 employees who had been with the Shipping department between 8 and 17 years. He was pleased to have the opportunity to work with this group of people because they had a reputation for being a very productive department. This supervisory position had come open suddenly when the former Shipping supervisor, whom had been with the company for 30 years, died of a heart attack.
Mark had some clear ideas as to how he could establish himself with the group of employees even without any real, past leadership experience. Mark’s former supervisor, at this previous job, had valued predictability, reliability, efficiency, and control, so Mark decided that he would lead by these values as well. In order to do this, he felt that he would need to take a number of definitive steps. Before actually starting the job, he spent a fair amount of time studying the duties and task flow of the department. He felt there were some problematic areas in the way the department had operated in the past and that with a few minor changes the group could be even more productive, as well as efficient, than before. He felt that under the circumstances it would be best to create a more structured environment within the department that would enable him to maintain a bit more control over the employees than had existed in the past. It was evident to him that the former supervisor had given his employees a bit too much latitude in terms of how they did their job.
Therefore, on his first day as the new supervisor, Mark distributed to all of his employees a detailed activity sheet specifying how their tasks should be structured throughout the day and how much time should be allocated for each task activity. In his first few days on the job, he also noticed that customers would call to talk directly to the Shipping employees about a problem they had with the shipment received, etc. Mark knew that some of the employees in his department had been former delivery drivers and that they probably had gotten to know the customers fairly well. He felt, however, that the tone of their conversations was a bit too ‘informal’ or ‘friendly’ and, given that he was the supervisor, it was inappropriate for the employees to be taking on this kind of role. Therefore, he announced to the employees that in the future all customer calls were to be forwarded directly to him, not the employees.
To motivate the employees he posted a goal sheet on the break room door that listed each employee’s name and the goal Mark had set for number of orders to be processed and filled for each day. At the end of each day, Mark planned to post the number of orders actually completed and compare it to the pre-set goal for each employee so that the employees could gauge their performance against their coworkers. Mark felt that the infusion of some competitive spirit among the employees might motivate them to work even harder.
Mark also felt it was critical to maintain a status distance between him and the employees in order to establish respect. Part of this was driven by his belief that it was important to separate work aspects from social aspects and also because he did not want the employees to take advantage of him because they were all buddies. An underlying rationale for his decision to remain at a distance from the employees was that Mark was concerned that if they came to know him better, the employees would quickly learn how inexperienced he really was and he would lose his credibility. As such, the first week on the job when the employees’ invited Mark to join them for a beer after work, he declined the invitation. The employees explained that since Wednesday was the busiest, and longest, work day for them of the week, it was kind of a tradition that they and the former manager would all walk down to the pub on the corner afterwards and celebrate their success. Mark, again, thanked them for the invitation, but made it clear that he did not think it was such a good idea for him to join them in such an event. He also emphasized that they all had an early and busy schedule the following day so they should keep this in mind when drinking at the pub.
Mark is currently in his 10th week as a supervisor. As he sat at his desk, he decided to write a note to himself to remember to think about possibly nominating someone from his department for ’employee of the month’. From what other supervisors had told Mark, every department nominated one employee who had put forth extra effort that month, or done something extraordinary, and the VP of Operations would choose one of these employees for a special recognition. This award was seen as a big deal because the company President would be present, and the chosen employee was brought up on stage by the VP, given a plaque, and personally thanked for his/her contributions. As he looked at the line of plaques hanging over his desk, evidently the Shipping department employees had received a number of such awards in the past. It occurred to him, however, that at this point, he would have no idea who to nominate nor on what basis. He decided that with everything else he had to do, this effort was pretty much a waste of his time and he was just going to skip it this month again.
Although Mark did not feel that things had been catastrophic in his short tenure as supervisor, he has encountered a number of problems. For example, it was stressed to Mark by his supervisor, that it was crucial that employees pick up their shipping orders from Mark by 8:00am at the latest, or else the shipments would not be on the road on time. Because he would occasionally get stuck in morning traffic, Mark made sure that the night before that the next day’s orders were placed in an envelope on his door so that the employees could get them by 8:00. Despite this, evidently many employees were getting a late start, usually stopping by his office to pick up their shipment orders between 8:15 and 8:30 as Mark was arriving at the office. While the employees were completing all of their shipments on a daily basis, there had been some close calls in the last two weeks where certain customer orders almost missed the truck departure times. Mark remained silent on this issue feeling that he did not want to get off on the wrong foot with the employees sensing that they were just trying to test the ‘new guy’ out. He felt that eventually they would bore with this routine and begin picking up their orders on time.
Mark had also noticed a fairly major conflict between two of his employees. The two seem to be constantly bickering and have gotten to the point where they refuse to work along side one another and openly criticize each others’ work efforts. One of the other employees in the work unit informed Mark that the two haven’t gotten along since some incident occurred a few years ago, but things seem to have escalated since the old supervisor was no longer there. The former supervisor had communicated to the two employees “You don’t have to marry each other, you just have to work with each other and be respectful while you’re here. How you treat each other after work is your own business. Just don’t bring that crap to my work floor.” Mark had never been very good at handling conflict himself and decided just to let the men work out the issues themselves. As long as it didn’t turn into some type of physical altercation, he was just going to let it go for now and not address the conflict issue.
Another issue that has come to Mark’s attention is an employee, Brian, who does not seem to be keeping up with the work demand like the other employees are. Mark was getting increasingly irritated since he had given a detailed work sheet to all employees that was pretty straightforward in terms of the new task structure and procedures Mark was implementing. In his mind, the task sheet should make Brian’s job easier than it previously was. He has noticed Brian stopping his work to go talk to other employees, and situations in which he tried to do his job tasks the ‘old’ way. Brian is a rather quiet, “detached” person so Mark did not feel intimidated addressing him rather sternly in terms of his failure to conduct his work in a timely and “correct” manner. The other employees seem very fond of Brian which Mark feels explains why he has witnessed them helping Brian sorting and loading trucks from time to time – a practice with which Mark is not happy at all. When he has noticed this collaboration, he has announced “Alright, there is enough work for everyone – we don’t need to be doing each others’.” Recently, Mark heard two of the employees mentioning Brian’s ‘learning disability’ but Mark thought the conversation was staged for his benefit. Mark feels that this whole incident with Brian is another example of how the employees are testing him, and that Brian is trying to take advantage of the fact that Mark is a new supervisor – something Mark greatly resents.
Mark had also become increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that once employees had checked, packed, and loaded a shipment, they had traditionally been allowed to enter the completed shipping order data via the computer into the Shipping department database. Mark had been informed by the company’s IT department that the former Shipping supervisor had pushed top management to provide computer training, on company time, for all of his employees even though upper management did not feet that it was necessary. In the end the supervisor won out and the employees had received fairly extensive computer training. Even so, Mark felt that since none of these employees were college graduates, they couldn’t be that adept at using computers. Also, given the fact that he did not know them very well, and was a bit concerned that they might take advantage of the situation and starting using the computer for “inappropriate” things, he decided that the employees should not have free access to the Shipping department’s database and computer.
Six weeks into Mark’s tenure, the employees walked in to work one morning to find their small computer room locked with a note on the door stating that Mark would now be responsible for entering all Shipping data and instructing them to please place all completed shipping orders in the bin provided outside his office. Despite his instructions, for the past two weeks, Mark has found completed shipping orders thrown all over the floor outside of his door throughout the day. Mark viewed this as a totally immature way for the employees to handle the situation and like their tardiness, he decided that the behavior would eventually subside if he ignored it. Another problem was that Mark would increasingly open his office door to find that many employees were missing from the work area, requiring him to stop what he was doing, go track them down, and tell them to get back to work.
During this last week, Mark had become increasingly irritated, and nervous, by the work situation. The number of “near misses” on truck deliveries was increasing and some of these orders were going to the company’s biggest customers who he felt would not tolerate late or incorrect merchandise deliveries. Mark knew it was only a matter of time before this occurred. Mark had just returned to his office after searching the work area for missing order forms which the employees had not returned the night before in the designated bin. Mark had to have a monthly summary report on his boss’s desk by noon that day and needed the missing order forms to complete it. When Mark asked the employees about the forms, they snickered, shrugged their shoulders and said, “I don’t know. I turned all of mine in last night. Did you look in the break room? Or maybe in the restroom? How about on top of the Coke machine?” In the midst of this, Mark answered his phone to find an irate customer on the line that had received only half of the orders he had placed. The customer commented that he had been a loyal customer for 20 years, but this was the third time there had been some type or error in his order or delivery in the past 5 weeks, and if it happened one more time, he would take his business elsewhere, and let the company president know why. Mark apologized profusely, promising to have a special delivery made to the customer within the hour and promising that nothing like this would happen again. Upon looking at the paperwork, Mark discovered that the delivery mistake had been a result of Brian loading the truck incorrectly.
As soon as he hung up, Mark stormed out of his office to find the employees standing around the Coke machine talking. He walked over to them and began to yell, threatening to have all of them fired if their performance and attitudes did not improve immediately. Most of his anger was directed toward Brian who was on his break with the other employees. He shouted “What kind of idiot are you anyway?! You are constantly making mistakes around here and can’t seem to do the simplest of tasks right. Seriously, what kind of idiot can’t read a simple order form and load it correctly on a truck! I am tired of covering for your *%# ! You are going to be the first to go here. He then returned to his office hoping that his strong stand would have a lasting impression on the employees and things would soon improve.
This is a study case, from my class MGMT 464 ( Contemporary leadership issues ).
Here are 2 questions about the study case that need to be answered. Which are:
1- What type of relevant information and resources did he not share with his employees? What was the impact?
2- In what ways had the former supervisor built his employees’ sense of competence? How did Mark later undermine the employees’ sense of competence?
I need it to be done in an hour. or two hours as a maximum. My price is $5. Thanks
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