The operating
problems and employee conflicts are festering and have been growing for several
weeks. Steve Brown is the assistant manager of the Southland Discount City
Store and has avoided any repercussions from downtown so far. But things are
getting out of hand.

Besides various
other duties, Steve works closely with the cash activities where most of the
problems and conflicts are. The difficulties relate generally to scheduling and
assignment of employees and to a somewhat higher than usual error rate at the
check-out registers. These problems are affecting employee attitudes and the
number of customer complaints is increasing.

“This thing
is getting contagious,” Steve says in response to the store manager’s
question. “I have followed the book to the letter on this one and it is
not improving. It worries me but I don’t know what else to do. If it were up to
me, I’d sit them down and tell them the facts of life. It would either
straighten up or we would have some new faces around here. It is not my call,
though. I think we should give it a little more time. Maybe it will settle down
without our doing anything drastic.”

The manager leans
back in his chair and says, “Steve, the issue is what you are going to do
about the problem.”

In a sincere
voice, Steve says, “Given everything involved, I am bumping this one up to
you.” Handing a paper to the manager, Steve continues, “Here is the
thing in a nutshell. The policy book says to send a problem like this up the
line. Here is the I-R-627 on the thing. I have been as complete as I can. I
think we better play it safe with this one.”

The manager
glances at the form but does not read it. Instead, he says, “I still want
to know what you are going to do about the problem.”

Steve has a
frustrated expression as he collects his thoughts and says, “I want to
help you out with this one, but it is out of my area. It needs to be handled
either by Personnel or the training types. I think it is important for the
store for me to stay within my authority. People getting outside their areas is
a problem you have, as you know better than any of us.”

With only a little
more intensity, the manager says, “It will help me if we handle this in-house.
Why don’t you take this one by the horns and shake it a little? If you get any
flack from downtown, I will take care of it for you.”

Steve thinks a
long time before he says, “I wish I could. I have played this one by the
numbers and can’t afford to run the chance of its blowing up on me. I don’t
want to end up the goat.”

The manager’s
frustration now shows. “Steve, I asked you nicely to take care of this
problem. Are you going to force me to write this up? If that happens, it will
go downtown and there is no predicting what will come of that.”

Steve is slow to
respond. “I don’t want that any more than you do. It won’t help taking the
thing out on each other. Give me a couple days to work on it. There has to be
some way I can help you get this little thing worked out. It is just not that
big of a deal. Let me get back to you on this one.”