Case 38: Out of Control
Case 38 (continued)
Case Discussion:
Out of Control
Judy Wheeler was put in charge of a Special Operations Review Committee. This committee was
an interfunctional special project team charged with finding ways to improve company produc-
tivity. The Committee met formally the third Tuesday of each month. Before the most recent
meeting, Judy is sitting at the head of the table, looking at the committee members as they arrived
and mentally noting the following:
Mike Slater was aloof and distant. It was clear from his actions that he did not want to
participate in this committee and would come late, not pay attention and leave early.
When he did participate, he was often caustic.
Fern Henry, Personnel, talked too quickly and too much without making any significant
Sue Casey and Buddy Griffith, both from Operations, did not like each other. Sue recently
was promoted into the job that Buddy thought he deserved. One always seemed to argue
against what the other was saying.
Wendy Abrams felt like she should be in charge of this committee and tried to act as if
she could make assignments and dictate the agenda.
The work of the Committee seemed to drag, and Judy was not sure how to proceed.
Answers to Case Question
How can Judy Wheeler deal with the problems here in order to make the Committee
operate more effectively?
The first thing Judy should consider is whether this committee is properly staffed. Even
though membership may have been dictated at the outset, she should work with her manage-
ment sponsor to reevaluate membership. This can go in two ways:
1. Are all the relevant functions within the organization represented effectively?
If some functions are missing, then she may need to add some personnel. A related
question is, why are there two people from Operations?
2. Are there more effective personnel who should be included?
Even though Mike Slater may have some good insight, his poor motivation makes hi
of doubtful utility, and Judy should consider replacing him.
Second, after the committees are restaffed, Judy should consider using a team-building train-
ing session for this team. She could obtain the help of a consultant in refocusing the group’s
functioning and processing. As part of the team-building process, the goals of the committee
would be clarified, member roles (including her role vis-à-vis Wendy Abrams) defined, an
appropriate processes established.
50 Case Studies for Management and Supervisory Training
Case 38 (concluded)
Third, Judy should consider working more with subgroups pursuing specific projects. For
example, Wendy could be made a subgroup chair. Judy could manage each subgroup’s work
apart from a full group meeting. In this way, she might be able to cut down on the need for
routine full committee meetings. When full committee meetings are indicated, she could
make the meetings special: located off-site, extended to a full day, conducted according to
carefully prepared agendas with planned slots for subgroup presentations, and the like.
Judy could also seek more senior management support and recognition of the committee. For
example, senior managers should be invited to attend the full committee meetings. She
should make sure each participant on the committee is regularly brought to the attention of
senior management.

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