Sue is an administrative assistant working in the research branch of a small, nonprofit management development firm located in Minneapolis,
(a) Keeping track of the branch's $300,000 budget;
(b) Making your travel arrangements and providing you with graphics and word processing support; and
(c) Providing administrative support for the other four members of the research branch. As the lead researcher, you often travel over 200 days a year conducting executive training and selling the branch's management assessment and development products. In partial support of this busy travel schedule, the research branch has some of the most advanced word processing and graphics software available, the latest Apple computers and color laser printers. Sue has over 15 years of secretarial and administration experience, was selected from over 100 applicants, and has been in the position for 6 months.
Sue's performance over the past six months has been less than stellar, and over the past month it has been completely unsatisfactory. Sue will often put in a full eight hour day, even overtime, but still not complete all of her job responsibilities without help from the other members in the research branch. For example, she has chronically been one month behind on the branch budget, and only seems to catch up when Judy, the person previously responsible for the budget, "bails" Sue out and brings the budget up to date. Each time this occurs, Judy methodically explains how to do the budget and asks Sue if she understands what to do, in each case, Sue has said she "now clearly understands what is required and won't need any help in the future." Judy has helped with the budget four times since Sue started in the research branch.
Unfortunately, failing to keep up with the research branch budget is not Sue's only work-related problem. Although Sue is very good at following clear instructions and completing projects and tasks she has previous experience with (accept the budget), Sue is not very good at thinking through the requirements of new tasks and projects. For example, when given a lesson plan and asked to assemble materials for your new eight hour executive development workshop, Sue assembled the materials in the order she found them in the supply room rather than in the order they would be presented in the workshop. Similarly, when given the dates and times of these workshops, Sue would often arrange to have you arrive several hours after you were to start the workshop. In addition, although Sue was given several weeks of training on how to use Apple graphics and word processing packages, she routinely needed help on any graphs that were not exactly like those she had been exposed to in her training program. Along these lines, Sue generally ignored those instructions she was unsure of and often appeared to be distracted at work.
Recent events in Sue's personal life may provide clues to her substandard work performance. Sue and her husband were recently laid off from a high tech firm and moved to Minneapolis in search of work. They are living in a two bedroom apartment with their two teenage daughters. One of their daughters is still having emotional problems coping with the move, and they have a third daughter that is away at college. Her husband was been unable to find suitable work in Minneapolis and moved to San Diego several months ago to sell insurance. After arriving in San Diego, Sue's husband decided he did not want to sell insurance and is currently looking for some type of managerial work. Currently, Sue is the only breadwinner in the family.
The other four members of the research branch all have master degrees or PhDs and are extremely competent. All of the other branch members have worked for you for over two years, and you have developed a close working relationship with each one of them. Because of this relationship, the other members of the branch have privately told you how dissatisfied they are with Sue's performance; they feel their energies are being drained by Sue, which, in turn, is hampering their ability to complete their own projects and job responsibilities. What will you do?
Discuss among your Cass Personnel Committee (CPC) some things you would do in this situation and collectively determine some options for resolution and the best option if possible.
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Question Posted: November 22, 2017 08:11:32