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Case Study Response (Sweers)

by on January 24, 2010

There’s no clear-cut way to handle this situation; that’s part of what makes it a good case study.  The one common thread among all the responses in our group was this: Sam needs to engage the employees.  Maybe he needs to confront Bill first, or even fire him, or maybe not.  Maybe he needs to meet with all the team leaders, or with upper management, to make sure they can present a united front.  Regardless, we all feel that he needs to meet with the employees directly, and try to clarify the situation and make them feel included.

There were a number of different ideas as to how to do this:

  • Carrot: Explain that an increase in efficiency could mean a reduction in work, and there may be the potential for team leader promotions.
  • Stick: Explain that continued decline in profits means eventual layoffs, or that we might just fire you for resisting new policies.
  • Find a way to actually let the employees get involved, perhaps even returning to the planning phase, to ensure they have a sense of agency.  (I guess this might also qualify as “carrot.”)

I worry about the message that firing Bill or other dissenters might send.  It’s a valid last resort, but if the employees are still feeling unheard at that point I suspect it would just cement resistance.

One particular suggestion was that soliciting anonymous (and thus presumably uncensored) employee comments and complaints might be useful, so that Sam could move to address those as appropriate.

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