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Tad Pierson had recently been chosen as a project engineer in Agrigreen Company. In the capacity of an engineer he is responsible for one of Agrigreen’s plant surveying faction. He had been aware of safety, performance and conflicts with human resources within the group for sometime. These issues are escalating in frequency and Tad is concerned about the production schedules, safety of the employees and possible action plans that he needs to take. Agrigreen Company produces varied agricultural fertilizers. It’s widely spread in America with plants located in Western parts of the US and Canada. It employs certified surveyors who ensure quality and safety of the plants. Sometimes back, Agrigreen’s survey crew was made up of part-time drafting staff cum project engineers.
Howard Lineberry, a lead surveyor, has been employed with the company for seventeen years. Over his time in Agrigreen, he had been supervised by up to five different managers and three surveyor’s assistants. Howard Lineberry’s work over the period has led to several safety and production issues. His tenure also did not lack conflicts with managers, engineering staff and almost all the employees he worked with.
Mel Cutler, a surveyor’s assistant, having worked for Agrigreen for only few years was assigned to assist Howard. Half a decade later, Mel Cutler started to notice problems because of Howard’s note keeping method. This led to multiple safety and production issues in varied projects. After some time, Mel noticed that Howard was taking too much time for snack breaks besides coming late for work and leaving early. He also observed that Howard was taking naps on the job. This made Mel move away and accepted a part-time assignment away from him. This led to a new surveyor assigned to assist Howard: Vince Adam. Vince Adam was a young high school graduate and took on many Howard’s wrong habits. Of late, Tad is concerned about the safety; performance and personnel issues in the surveying group are getting out of hand and thus considering what he should do so as to intervene and correct the situation.
Fact Findings and the Recommendations
A major issue that Tad is facing is the increasing quality issues from Howard’s work. Howard’s inefficient work processes in time management and note keeping has led to issues both in the safety as well as production on the job sites. These issues have cost the company in the extra man power rebuild and also delays in production. Though examining Howard’s work process, Tad is better placed to understand the solutions to these issues.
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 may feel, Tad is still his boss and he is there to work for Agrigreen. Howard’s performance is not acceptable in any manner. While the failures of the previous managers to confront Howard about his performance problems have cost the company money it is now up to Tad to correct this issue. In doing so, there are a few things Tad should keep in mind.
First, Tad should have a plan of action as to how he is going to confront this issue. With this plan of action, Tad should set define time as to the expected behaviors and outcomes expected in Howard’s performance. Next, Tad needs to meet with Howard and be specific in defining the poor performance that occurred in the past, and remind Howard when each error occurred. Tad also needs to be specific as to the plan of action and the established time frame to correct these errors as well as the consequences of non conformance. Tad needs to focus on the performance required for the job and make sure that he reiterates the guidelines that have been outlined for the workplace. Tad should consider Howard’s personality and how he handles feedback. Regardless of how Howard has been performing, Tad should always be clear and straightforward during his communication with Howard. He needs to focus on the performance which Howard has control. At the conclusion of this meeting, Tad should check Howard’s understands to avoid any miss communications.
After the meeting with Howard, Tad should document this meeting from his notes. He should document the issue and the action that has been taken to correct or eliminate the problems. After summarizing this meeting a copy of Tad’s report should be given to Howard and the original placed in Howard’s file. Finally, timely feedback should be given to Howard as Howard works on improving his performance. Should Tad note that Howard needs additional training, he should check with the human resource department for additional training classes, or set Howard with a mentor.
Tad should realize that confronting Howard about his poor performance is not going to be easy. But once he has a plan of action in place, he will fine getting Howard back on track is far better for the company than having to replace him. (Business & Legal Reports, 2006)
The above action is how we handled an employee in our office who was a poor performer. I was set as her mentor, and working one-on-one with her I had to re-train her in our processes to ensure that she had a full understanding as to what was required in performing our job. After a brief three months, she is now producing high quality of work. As a reviewer, this young lady’s work is “spot on.” She is now off corrective action and is no longer in jeopardy of losing her job.
The next issue Tad faces is Howard’s attendance. Over the years of Howards’ tenure, he had become complacent. He has been increasingly taking additional snack breaks, arriving to work late, leaving work early, as well as fall asleep on the job. For years, under the previous management, Howard’s actions have been over looked. Tad had witnessed several of these company violations, and has also noticed Vince; Howard’s assistant has been following the same pattern as Howard.
Identifying attendance issues are not a simple process. There may be underlying issues which could be the driver of Howard’s absenteeism. Tad needs to first research the company’s policy and gain a full understanding of what he can and cannot do to resolve the issue. Tad also needs to consult with the human resource department as well as the legal department to understand and educate him on the potential legal issues that also are involved in (Goodman 2005).
Once Tad had educated himself, he needs to approach Howard to determine if there are underline reasons for the continuing attendance issues. It depends on why the Howard is late, absent, or taking frequent breaks will drive the action that Tad needs to take.
During Tad’s conversation with Howard, if it is determined that the reason for this attendance problem is caused by some type of stress issues, violence and or family problem Tad may need to refer Howard to the Employee Assistance program (EAP) for assistance. If the reason is medical, Tad may suggest Howard use the benefits allowed to him under the American’s with disability Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Should the outcome be something else, Tad may need to take a different approach. A good approach is to counsel with Howard of the importance of keeping time and punctuality while driving down the corporate policy and procedures. A “carrot-and-stick” approach is a time-tested method of dealing with attendance issues. Through this approach, Tad can use a combination of reward and punishment. As with the plan of action, Tad created for the production issue, he may wish to either add the attendance issue to the original plan, or write a separate plan of action. Also, Tad should use the same method of communication, documentation, and feedback with this issue as he does with the production issue (Nayab, 2010)
I work with a person who appears to have an attendance problem. This person comes in at various times during the day. I cannot a test to when she leaves as I’m already on my way home while she is still in the office. At times, I’ve noticed that she takes two sometimes two and a half hour smoke breaks. The issue here is we are exempted employees. Since this person sits next to me I talk with her a great deal, so I know her attendance problem is mostly stress related. I have told her about our EPA program, but she has opted not to take advantage of their services.
The final issue may appear to be one of the hardest for Tad. This is the moral of the plant’s surveying group. For years, Howard’s continued errors and attendance has caused issues with the other employees. Mel Cutler was originally assigned to work with Howard as a surveyor’s helper. A few years ago Mel began working on other projects away from Howard. Now that the temporary assignment is reaching its conclusion, Mel had expressed his concerns with working with Howard. Tad appears to understand, since he has known the original surveyor’s helper Dan Richards and the same concerns were expressed than. There also appears to be concerns being expressed by the engineering crews. It appears that they do not trust the work that Howard produces, and takes additional time to verify Howard’s findings. As Howard’s new supervisor, Tad needs to get a clear view of the situation from different perspectives and act on them accordingly.
The plant surveying group at Agrigreen works closely with the project engineers. For some time now, anxiety, frustration, and resentment have been building in reference to the growing problems with Howard. This appears to be the major cause of the low morale and high levels of employee dissatisfaction within the plant. If left unchecked, this issue will only accelerate the problem and the company will lose key personal.
When Tad was assigned the group, he knew that there was a continual conflict brewing. He needs to confront this issue head on. This can be accomplished by fostering interpersonal communication within the group. Tad needs to become an active listener by paying attention to the concerns of the group withhold holding judgment on those who chose to share their thoughts. He needs to develop open communication between this cross-functional team. He needs to develop clear and specific goals for the team to work through their concerns. As Howard’s performance and attendance issues are protected by employment laws and regulations as well as corporate ethical policies, the solutions to those issues cannot be shared with the team. For this reason, the team must learn to work past these issues knowing that Tad is on top of those concerns (Hellriegel & Slocum Jr., 2008).
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