191
Case 38
Out of Control
Background Information
Judy Wheeler was coming to really dislike the third Tuesday of each month. This
was the day of the monthly status briefing of the Special Operations Review Com-
mittee. Judy sat at the head of the conference table, looking out the window at the
other buildings populating the office park. As head of the committee, Judy was
always the first there, waiting for everyone else to arrive. However, the situation
was not like this in the beginning.
When the Special Operations Review Committee had been formed four months
ago, Judy was very proud to be appointed to head it. With the competitive pressures
on the business growing for some time, there were many rumors about new corpo-
rate initiatives to search for ways to improve the productivity of various systems
and operations. She felt it was an honor to have been put in charge of one such ini-
tiative. The committee included people from Data Processing, Auditing, Account-
ing, Operations, Marketing, and Personnel.
Judy looked around as people began to file in. “This thing has turned into a real
zoo,” she thought, “and my patience is running out.”
Judy looked at some of the real poor sports. One was Mike Slater, typically sit-
ting over at the corner of the table, staring vacantly into space. He was as aloof as
ever. It was clear from his actions and comments that Mike did not want to partici-
pate in this committee. She overheard him comment one time that he had better
things to do than work with a bunch of “operation types.” He would show up late,
walk out in the middle of the briefing, read the paper, do almost anything he could
think of that would say, “I don’t want any part of this, and I’ll work real hard not to
play a part in it.” He was usually successful, and when he did contribute, it was only
by virtue of his making some kind of caustic remark. Judy realized, however, that
Mike did have some important insight and experience that could be very helpful to
the committee. It was unfortunate that he made it so difficult to listen to him.
Judy looked at Fern Henry, standing near the coffee pot, joking with Sue Casey.
Fern was from Personnel and had been in that department for over 15 years. Fern’s
biggest asset was her ability to talk about anything, at any time, and for great peri-
ods of time. And while her knowledge of the personnel issues surrounding the
committee’s work was good, she tended to voice her opinions quickly and at length,
neither fully considering them nor allowing others to question her. She could talk
for 10 minutes at a stretch and end up saying very little. Judy hated to turn her on
because it was hard to turn her off.
Judy glanced at Sue Casey, who was from Operations. She then saw Buddy
Griffith, also from Operations, enter the room and sit down. About the time this
committee was formed, Sue was given a promotion to section supervisor. Buddy
had made it clear to many people that he thought he deserved the job, and since
then, there was nothing but animosity between Buddy and Sue. Judy smiled to
50 Case Studies for Management and Supervisory Training
192
Case 38 (continued)
herself, thinking, “You can bet that whatever one of them has, the other will try
everything possible to tear down and make look foolish.”
Finally, she noticed Wendy Abrams sitting at the other end of the table. Wendy,
who felt she should have been put in charge of the committee, often tried to take
control of meetings by making assignments, questioning others on where they
stood, and dictating the agenda. Everyone knew what she was doing, and more than
a few had noted how negatively her disruptions affected the group’s work.
Judy was becoming concerned with the committee’s progress. Some of the key
tasks were dragging; others were working at cross-purposes. Judy was becoming
concerned about how to proceed.
CASE QUESTION
How can Judy deal with the problems here in order to make the committee operate
more effectively?

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