What Do We Do with Howard?

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“What do we do with Howard?”

Synopsis:Tad Pierson had recently been appointed as a project engineer. As project engineer for one of Agrigreen’s plants, he is responsible for the operation of the plant surveying group. For some time now Tad had been aware of some performance, safety, and conflicts with personnel within the group. These issues appear to be escalating in frequency and are causing Tad concern regarding the safety of the employees, the production schedules, and possible actions that he might need to take.

Agrigreen, Inc. is a company that manufactures a verity of agricultural fertilizer. With plants located in the western United States and Canada, Agrigreen employs certified surveyors to ensure quality and safety of each project. Eighteen years ago, Agrigreen’s survey crew was composed of part-time drafting personnel or project engineers.

Howard Lineberry, a lead surveyor had been employed with Agrigreen for eighteen years. Over his tenure he had been supervised by five different managers, and had three surveyor’s helpers. Howard’s work over the years has caused multiple safety and production issues. He has also had conflicts with the engineering staff, his managers, and almost everyone he worked with.

Mel Cutler, a surveyor’s helper, after being employed by the company for only a few years was assigned to assist Howard. Five years into this assignment, Mel began to notice problems due to Howard’s note keeping method. These problems contributed to the production and safety issues with several projects. Later Mel began to notice that Howard was taking an excessive amount of snack breaks, coming to work late and leaving early. He also noticed Howard taking naps on the job. When the opportunity presented itself, Mel accepted a part-time assignment away from Howard. This reassignment resulted in a new surveyor’s helper being assigned, Vince Adam. Vince, an impressible young high school graduate, took on several of Howard’s inappropriate habits.

Tad is concerned that the performance, safety, and personnel issues in the plant surveying group is getting out of control and is considering what action(s) that he should take, if any, at this point to intervene and correct the situations. Finding of Fact #1:One of the key issues of concern that Tad faces is the escalating quality of work being performed by Howard. Howard’s inefficient work processes in his note keeping and time management has caused issues in both production as well as safety violations on the job sites. These continual issues have cost Agrigreen in both extra man power to rebuild and delays in production. By examining Howard’s work process Tad can better understand what needs to be done and work toward eliminating these errors. Recommendation #1:Howard’s performance at work is a product of miss management and poor attitude. When Howard was first employed, his manager, Jerry Givens [now retired], supervised with an iron hand. His management style can best be described as Theory X. Jerry took a command-and-control approach to management based on a negative view of Howard’s knowledge, skills, and ability. [ (Hellriegel & Slocum Jr., 2008) ] He told Howard what to do and how to do it. Upon Jerry’s retirement, the next manager, Paul Jackson, used the Theory Y approach to management. He took on an empowering approach with Howard. This is where the problem truly began. Howard, with his new found freedom took it upon his self to improve the process by working directly with the project engineers. Howard’s efforts increased the pace of the work which called for a number of last minute requests and frequent changes in work schedules. By not having an establish plan of action in place, errors were made which cost the company time and money. Over the years, Howard’s performance issues escalated and upon several attempts by different managers, he refused to change.

Tad has his work cut out for him. Regardless of how Howard...
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