Plant manager Paul Dorn wondered why his boss, Leonard Hech, had sent for him.
Paul thought Leonard had been tough on him lately; he was slightly uneasy at being
asked to come to Leonard’s office at a time when such meetings were unusual. “Close
the door and sit down, Paul,” invited Leonard. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
After preliminary conversation, Leonard said that because Paul’s latest project had
been finished, he would receive the raise he had been promised on its completion.
Leonard went on to say that since it was time for Paul’s performance appraisal, they
might as well do that now. Leonard explained that the performance appraisal was based
on four criteria: (1) the amount of high-quality merchandise manufactured and shipped
on time, (2) the quality of relationships with plant employees and peers, (3) progress on
maintaining employee safety and health, and (4) reaction to demands of top management. The first criterion had a relative importance of 40 percent; the rest had a weight of 20 percent each.
On the first item, Paul received an excellent rating. Shipments were at an all-time
high, quality was good, and few shipments had arrived late. On the second item, Paul
also was rated excellent. Leonard said plant employees and peers related well to Paul,
labor relations were excellent, and there had been no major grievances since Paul had
become plant manager.
However, on attention to matters of employee safety and health, the evaluation was
below average. His boss stated that no matter how much he bugged Paul about improving housekeeping in the plant, he never seemed to produce results. Leonard also rated
Paul below average on meeting demands from top management. He explained that
Paul always answered yes to any request and then disregarded it, going about his business as if nothing had happened.
Seemingly surprised at the comments, Paul agreed that perhaps Leonard was right
and that he should do a better job on these matters. Smiling as he left, he thanked
Leonard for the raise and the frank appraisal.
As weeks went by, Leonard noticed little change in Paul. He reviewed the situation
with an associate:
It’s frustrating. In this time of rapid growth, we must make constant changes in work
methods. Paul agrees but can’t seem to make people break their habits and adopt more
efficient ones. I find myself riding him very hard these days, but he just calmly takes it.
He’s well-liked by everyone. But somehow, he’s got to care about safety and housekeeping in the plant. And when higher management makes demands he can’t meet, he’s got
to say, “I can’t do that and do all the other things you want, too.” Now he has dozens of
unfinished jobs because he refuses to say no.
As he talked, Leonard remembered something Paul had told him in confidence
once. “I take Valium for a physical? condition I have. When I don’t take it, I get symptoms similar to a heart attack. But I only take half as much as the doctor prescribed.”
Now, Leonard thought, I’m really in a spot. If the Valium is what is making him so
lackadaisical, I can’t endanger his health by asking him to quit taking it. And I certainty
can’t fire him. Yet, as things stand, he really can’t implement all the changes we need to
fulfill our goals for the next two years.
1. What would you do if you were in Leonard's place?
2. What could have been done differently during the performance appraisal session?