Adapted from Managing Human Resources, by Randall Schuler. 1994, West Publishing.
Mr. Burke, the Vice-President of Marketing, leaned back in his chair. He was trying to decide what performance evaluation to give to Jerry, a middle-level manager in the sales department. “Jerry is a great guy”, he thought. “He’s a real ‘go-getter’. He comes into the office at 6:30 every morning – long before anyone else. He does take two-hour lunches, but he seems to get the job done. Why two years ago his department was the most productive of all the departments in the entire company!”
“I think I particularly like his management style. He’s an efficient delegator. His staff members seem to work together as a team, why, sometimes I think the team seems to run itself.” The more he thought about Jerry, the more confused Mr. Burke became. “Lately, his productivity has fallen off a bit. It took him six weeks to get the Baxter report to me. He should have had that done in three. And he seems to get sick a lot. He is rarely absent, but sometimes he leaves early. Maybe that nagging cold could account for his drop in productivity. Maybe he should take a few days off and get over it, rather than plugging away when he isn’t 100%.”
“Also, I wish he’d be a bit more sociable. He keeps to himself quite a bit these days, working with the office door shut. It seems to promote rivalry with the other managers. I believe they think he is ‘too good for them’. Susan even acted like she was jealous! She said that I shouldn’t have given Jerry the Baxter project because he wouldn’t do a good job. Well, Susan was right, the report was late, but the work was in top form. I particularly enjoyed his presentation to Baxter. Quite entertaining! He was also a riot at Baxter’s dinner party. That should be good for ensuring Baxter’s account for the next five years at least! I think the other managers could learn something from Jerry, I wish they wouldn’t be so jealous!”
“One point I will have to make when I conduct the performance appraisal feedback session with Jerry is that he needs to take better notes at meetings. I don’t think he pays attention. At our meeting last Monday, I promised him some projected sales figures for the Northeastern U.S. region. When he got the information Tuesday morning he called me to ask why I had sent it. That wasn’t an isolated incident. There have been several times when he hasn’t remembered what we even had a meeting! He really does need to develop a system for keeping track of important information. Maybe the poor man has just got too much on his mind. He forgets too many things.”
How would you assess Jerry’s overall performance, with “1” being poor and “8” being outstanding? Why?
What are Jerry’s strengths and weaknesses? What do you think is responsible for his behavior? What solutions would you suggest?
Suppose that the firm used Management by Objectives (MBO). What objectives should Mr. Burke set with Jerry?
Are there additional actions Mr. Burke should take, and if so, why?
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