Joe must assign a project to a couple of employees. The project involves assessing and realigning the process for ordering and retrieving purchased items from the warehouse to ensure that they are delivered in a timely manner to the customer service desk for pickup. There have been a lot of complaints about long customer wait times.
Joe has been avoiding assigning the project because he believes the assignment will be met with resistance. The project will be challenging and time consuming. It will also require two employees, which could double the amount of resistance he will receive.
Joe believes that Fred Staid and Sally Ambitious would be the ideal candidates to assign to the project. Fred has an analytical mind and methodical approach to addressing problems. He would probably have a lot of great ideas about how to improve warehouse efficiency and would take a deliberate, step-by-step approach. Sally is one of Joe’s most energetic employees. She is the team leader in the warehouse, and it would not surprise Joe if she eventually moved to a sales or management position. Sally has good instincts about how to improve processes and has, in fact, implemented many of them already. She is a go-getter and would be a good balance with Fred’s more methodical approach.
Joe anticipates the following resistance:
1. Both Fred and Sally may suggest that the customer service function is not their area of responsibility. Indeed, there is a vacancy for the position of team leader of the customer service desk, so they may argue that Joe should do the project himself, assign a couple of team members in the customer service desk to do it, or wait until a team leader has been hired. Yet, Joe and Jim Talent believe all functions are interrelated and that cross training is important. They also do not believe that any of the customer service employees possess the qualifications or drive to take on this project.
2. Joe has some reservations about whether Fred and Sally will work well together. Though generally cordial to each other, they do not spend a lot of time working together. Joe thinks they would be a good team because of their unique work qualities that are needed for the project. However, he is concerned that their personalities may clash.
3. Joe is concerned that either Fred or Sally or both will be annoyed by his continued overtures to encourage them to collaborate. Joe has suggested that they work together on other projects in the past but was rebuffed. Joe has been patient, but this project is too important to let go. Joe is concerned that if he is too insistent, either or both individuals will be more emphatic in their refusal to work together. Then, they will build up resentment toward Joe, putting at risk a relatively good working relationship Joe currently enjoys with them.
4. Fred may express resistance because the problem does not appear to involve delivery and the loading dock, while it does involve the warehouse, which is Sally’s area of responsibility. Because of this, Fred may also think that he is not qualified to address customer service issues. Fred is also a little set in his ways and seems to focus only on the delivery function to the exclusion of any concern about other functions.
5. Though Sally is energetic, she may express resistance because she does not have the time to devote to it because of all the changes and new procedures she is trying to implement in the warehouse. She may also be resentful about the project, feeling perhaps that she is being faulted for the long wait times between the warehouse and the customer service desk. However, Joe believes that the problem is more systemic than anything Sally could have corrected through her efforts alone.
6. Sally may feel threatened by Fred’s involvement in addressing warehouse issues. She may see this as an intrusion into her “turf.”
Joe must approach Fred and Sally individually and encourage them to accept the assignment and work together to accomplish the task.
“How successful was Joe in applying the building blocks of collaboration? Explain your rationale”