Using the Cases in This Manual
Cases and Role Playing
In many of the cases, a meeting between the manager/supervisor and the employee(s) is
needed. Several different kinds of goals are possible for such a meeting: to communicate
decisions, to listen for information, to negotiate a solution, to chastise, or to recognize
good work. In this context, these cases present natural gateways for role-playing practice
To use these exercises as role-playing lead-in, the trainer assigns to participants the
various roles of supervisor, employee, or anyone else integral to the case. Then the
participants are given the task of conducting the meeting already discussed by the group.
The case establishes the situation, but how the role players, especially those in
supervisory roles, deal with the situation is up to them.
The participant who plays the role of the supervisor usually has the most control over
how the situation develops—and the most decisions to make. For example, if the scenario
is a disciplinary meeting, what should the supervisor say? And how should he or she act?
While there might be common-sense rules about proper action, the use of more specific
behavioral guidelines is often desirable.
There are numerous sources of behavioral guidelines that are appropriate for use in
case scenario role plays. Some behavior-modeling training programs provide a list of
steps a manager should take in any given situation; thus a set of behavior principles for
coaching can be applied in these situations. Guidelines may also be drawn from the
general literature. The behaviors associated with assertive communication, for example,
are rather widely known and can be used as the basis for training and role-playing
activities. Finally, keep in mind that the organization that employs the participants may
itself be an invaluable source of guidance. The organization’s policies and procedures in
disciplinary matters, for instance, may clearly indicate what a supervisor should do and
say, therefore providing the role player with an established model of conduct for dealing
with disciplinary problems.
The cases, which create the context for action, and the role-playing exercises, which
bring participants into the sphere of action, help participants further develop their
problem-solving and decision-making skills. Using these cases in conjunction with role-
playing exercises and the appropriate guidelines can thus result in a highly effective
Questions and Answers About the Cases
How were these cases developed?
These cases, collected over the past 10 years, are based on the experiences of managers
and supervisors in a variety of professions. The occupational settings represented here
include financial, health-care, educational, governmental, retail, and manufacturing