Management Crises



Your Management Crisis


You have worked as a biologist at Environmental Testing, Inc. for seven years.  The last four of those years were with the MED group, during which you received two promotions to become the group’s senior biologist.  Conscientious and thorough in your work, you are a stickler for details in the lab yet always willing to help others.  Coworkers like your pleasant, friendly manner and lively conversations about cooking and running (your major avocations).  However, beyond the immediate group, you remain rather private.  You interact with few people outside the MED group and rarely attended social functions and company parties.


You have always enjoyed your career as a biologist.  You are particularly pleased with the laboratory environment, which allows you to work freely and independently, pursuing whatever challenge or idea that comes along.  Although you love your job and excel at it, you were caught off guard when Ken Chang asked you to become supervisor of the MED group and take over a role Chang had held for three years.


The Reorganization.  Environmental Testing, Inc. makes diagnostic kits for environmental agencies and laboratories.   Although sales have been, the firm has had difficulties containing costs.  The company recently announced the third consecutive decline in quarterly profits. In an effort to contain costs, senior management recently announced a reorganization to consolidate product lines.  As a result of the reorganization, Ken Chang was promoted to production manager of a newly created division, leaving vacant his former position as supervisor of the MED group.  While a supervisor, Ken spent much of his time outside the group and in doing so, granted considerable autonomy to his biologists.  They performed well in that environment.


When offered the supervisor’s position, you initially balked.  You explained to Ken your reluctance to leave the lab bench and your feelings of uneasiness about supervising a group of long- time peers.  All of your education was in pure science; you’ve had no management training or experience.  Ken expressed his confidence that you would quickly master the art of management.


The Promotion.  After a week of contemplation, you accepted.  When your appointment was announced, members of the MED group were delighted and hosted a congratulatory luncheon for you.


Six months into the supervisory job, your attitude was as conscientious and upbeat as ever.  Much of your time was spent thoroughly checking each group member’s work.  Unlike Ken in the role of supervisor, you required that all project tests be documented in detail and often requested that lab tests be repeated to confirm accuracy.  Rather than delegate difficult problems to group members, you took on most of these complex lab tasks yourself and often worked late into the evening.


The Crisis.  In mid-December a major crisis required your immediate attention.  The deadline on a large government contract assigned to the MED group was moved from mid-February to mid-January.  Management wanted to make good on this contract because the US government was a major customer.  However, because of technical difficulties and because Environmental Testing, Inc. had a tradition of shutting down during the holidays, you did not believe MED would meet the deadline.  To respond to the pressure, you called a meeting of all group members, something you rarely did.  You spelled out the situation:


“As you are all aware, we are having a technical problem with the government contract.  To compound our troubles, I just got word from management that the deadline has been moved up one month to mid-January.  This change is an even bigger problem because the plant is scheduled to be shut down for 10 days over the holidays.


“Personally, I know the project is more important than my holiday plans, so I’m rearranging my plans.  What I’d like to know is who will be willing to work with me for a few of the 10 days.  Of course, you will get comp time or overtime pay, if you prefer.  How many of you will be willing to work with me?”


The group was silent.  Not one of the 10 members raised a hand or spoke up.


You made it through the crisis by working extensive overtime and begging a few team members to work a few days.  You realized, though, that the crisis might be indicative of a larger problem.  To make matters worse, your boss is also concerned about the job performance and commitment of the members of your group.  She has asked for a five-page report that analyzes the situation in your department and your recommendations of what changes you will make to be sure a similar situation doesn’t occur again.


You report should include a letter of transmittal to your boss,  The letter and report are due to me via email no later than  _____________________.  


Be sure to follow the guidelines you studied in MGMT 113 for writing a brief, informal report (or found in an online search).


The report will be graded for content (70%) and writing and professionalism (30%) using the attached rubric.  Your report should be informed by the course material and your additional research and should not simply be your off-the-cuff opinion of what you should do.

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