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MANAGEMENT CASE STUDY: Incentives & Motivation
A state voluntary health agency employed about 100 people, including a director of public and professional education. The director’s job was to work with numerous local units in facilitating community health education and professional staff development. The director, a highly motivated and very productive young man, was responsible for arranging community health fairs in local malls, educational components at fund-raising events, and two annual statewide seminars for professional development, one for doctors and one for nurses. He traveled frequently to the local units and was increasingly in demand as a consultant in other states and as a presenter at state and national meetings.
The director’s stress level was high because of his extensive responsibilities and his frequent acceptance of speaking engagements. He was out of the office and on the road three or four days a week, and when his paperwork mounted, he worked on the weekend to catch up. The director became a workaholic. He also became cranky
impatient, and somewhat depressed. His feelings of depression increased to the point where they negatively impacted his productivity. Alternatives Considered
Because the director had been so productive prior to the period of burnout, termination was not among the alternatives considered. Referral to a counselor for “burnout counseling” was considered, although no one knew an agency or counselor to handle the referral. The second alternative was for the administrator of the agency to attempt to handle the problem.
Actions Taken
The administrator called the director in for a one-hour appointment. Included in the meeting was a coworker (and personal friend) of the director. The manager expressed concern about stress and decreased effectiveness and voiced a desire to put together a plan that would help. When the expected denial and protestation occurred, the coworker on cue validated the observations of the administrator. The administrator then stated that the decision had already been made and that a plan would be developed and implemented as a condition of continued employment. According to the plan that was devised, the director would go on leave immediately, using 8 of 18 available sick leave days, and at least 2 and preferably 7 vacation days. A 2- to 3-week rest was mandated,
and all appointments and travel assignments would be canceled. All out-of-state travel would now have to be approved by the administrator, and the director was not to be on the road for more than 2 days a week for the next six months. Fax and phone conversations would have to suffice in some cases. Attendance at a stress management seminar at some time during the 6 months of restricted travel was mandated. The director was also to do some reading on delegating responsibility. At the end of the 6-month period, another conference would be held to re-evaluate the situation and determine if an additional six-month plan was necessary. A memo was written detailing the conference and the agreement. It was signed by all three persons who were present.
OUTCOME The forced sick leave and vacation time helped the employee see what he was allowing the job to do to his health and his family and understand the impact his condition was having on the job. He did the reading and attended the required workshop, and eventually he recovered from his depression to become a productive employee once again.
1. If the director had not voluntarily agreed to abide by the plan, under what conditions could termination have occurred? What kind of paper trail would be required? What options might exist if a sufficient paper trail did not exist?
2. What other strategies might the administrator have used?







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