Case 48: Look Out Ahead
Case 48 (continued)
Case Discussion:
Look Out Ahead
Tom Miller moved to head the Administrative Services Division of Genco after 20 years’ experi-
ence managing procurement and logistics in the military. In his new position, he was responsible
for purchasing, document storage and processing, and the mailroom. After three years, Tom had
the entire operation running smoothly.
Rodney James supervised the eight employees in the mailroom. Rodney was the first
employee Tom hired after joining Genco. Rodney’s predecessor had been caught stealing money,
and Tom took a chance in promoting Rodney into the position. His gamble paid off: Tom was
pleased with how Rodney emerged as a supervisor, even if Rodney tended to not delegate as well
as he should. Tom saw that Rodney spent too much time fighting fires and too little time plan-
ning. Not planning effectively was a major area of weakness in Tom’s mind. Tom had been
extensively trained in and worked on planning. To him, planning was second nature.
Tom’s frustration with Rodney’s poor planning skills was coming to a head during the cur-
rent system conversion now underway at Genco. The new system promised a drastic reduction in
the flow of paper at Genco. The new system was scheduled to start with the new budget year.
Tom had been warning Rodney that he needed to prepare a budget that reflected a better work-
load and staffing plan.
Tom had other concerns as well. For example, there was no one ready as a backup to Rodney.
Rodney was a grade 12 supervisor while everyone else was a grade 8 specialist. Tom thought this lack
of backup contributed to Rodney’s delegation problems. Each time that Tom mentioned this to
Rodney, Rodney would agree and promise to get around to it soon, but “soon” never seemed to come.
Answers to Case Questions
1. Is this a disciplinary or coaching problem for Tom? Is it a problem at all?
The problem is more one of potential than fact. Rodney is able to get the work done in his unit.
However, there are a number of festering issues that demand attention, both by Tom and by
Rodney: lack of management depth in his department, inadequate manpower planning, fire
fighting and poor delegation practices, and a budget that will apparently be insufficient. All
these matters could easily become real problems.
For Tom, planning is second nature because of his prior training and work experience. How-
ever, for Rodney, planning may seem an alien and ill-defined process for which he is not pre-
pared. Avoiding tasks with which one is uncomfortable is a natural reaction for anyone. There-
fore, it would be best to approach this matter not as a disciplinary problem (which assumes
that the employee can do the task but chooses not to) but as a coaching problem (where the
employee would do the task if he or she knew how).
Tom needs to coach Rodney in planning.

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