PART I: Read the following case study carefully and analyze
it by answering the three Questions for Discussion in an integrated
essay format. (20 points)
Please read the following case carefully and write an integrated essay (4 pages in length) based
solely on the information provided in the case.
Write an Integrated Essay addressing all three questions. Papers should be
4 pages in length, typewritten, with 1” margins on all sides.
TWO SUPERVISORS-A STUDY IN STYLE
Floor One and Floor Two are located in the same building and are very similar in
physical features and workforce size. Employees on both floors make pacemakers, highly
technical and delicate devices that are surgically implanted in a user's chest. Reliable
performance of the device is often a life-and-death matter for the user.
Conversation is minimal on Floor One. Mr. Martin, the supervisor, sits at his desk in a
glass front office where he is able to see much of the rest of the floor. A sign on Mr.
Martin's wall reads: "There is too much at stake for mistakes."
Mr. Martin runs a tight ship on Floor One. He is known throughout the company as an
organized and systematic manager: strict, but fair; courteous, but not exceptionally warm.
He takes his work very seriously, telling new employees that they “each play a small
role in the large endeavor of saving lives."
No one doubts Mr. Martin's commitment to his work. On his walks around the floor his
manner is formal and detached, but keenly observant. When asked a question or for
directions, his responses are always crisp, concise, and unambiguous. His technical
knowledge of the work is highly regarded by ail
Mr. Martin is extremely thorough in doing everything possible to ensure that nothing
leaves his shop with any defects. Whenever possible, he personally oversees the end-
line inspection of the product-what he calls "the last and by far most important step in
Asked once about why he doesn't loosen up the reins, Martin responded: "We're in the
business of making devices that keep people alive. There can be no question about final
quality of product-every defect that leaves here is a potential killer. There will always be
human error, and no matter how good these folks may be, I can’t let their mistakes
endanger our customers. My job is to make sure that everyone follows procedure to the
letter, and that if mistakes are made they are caught before they go out the door."
Martin delegates almost no authority to his assistant, Mr. Smith. When Martin is away
and Smith is in charge, the atmosphere on the floor changes. There is a good deal of
chatting and gossiping, and at times even some horseplay. Some of the older workers are
concerned that the lack of tight discipline when Smith is in charge might lead to
The attitude among the younger workers toward Martin’s supervision is expressed in the
following statements show:
"Martin runs a very strict floor, and the workers resent him because he treats them
"When I came here, Martin checked up on everything! Did, and that was hard to adjust
to. I felt like a rookie all over again."
"I've had what I thought were some pretty good ideas of how we might improve what
we do around here and maybe even do some things differently that would save a few
bucks. But I guess Martin feels that he's the only one who should be thinking about
how we might make things better."
"When Martin is off, the workers are in a more sociable frame of mind. The
whole atmosphere seems more relaxed."
"I was hired as a quality inspector and am more than adequately trained for my job. But I
feel here that I'm the one being inspected."
Martin keeps the younger workers on Floor One under rigid discipline, and they complain
to their supervisor that they are not being given responsibility. They are being asked to
do only routine work. 11Us makes them feel that they are not learning as much as they
might in other places. Younger workers ask few questions of either Martin or the older
workers; they rarely talk to anyone.
The older workers' attitude is different, as the following statements show:
"I like working with Mr. Martin. I know a lot of the workers complain about him
because he’s particular and checks on them. Personally, I'd rather work on this floor
than anywhere else for exactly that reason. Everything here is done properly."
"I picked this floor because I liked the supervision here. I worked with Mr. Martin
while l was a trainee and I knew what to expect. I honestly feel that I still need a
responsible person nearby to supervise me. I feel that I need guidance, and therefore I
prefer to work on a floor where there is a fairly strict supervisor. On some of the other
floors things are too slipshod."
"I like things done in an orderly fashion. I prefer to work hard and get it done with,
and then relax. Mr. Martin doesn’t believe in relaxation at all, but I can see his point.
After all, you have these orders that have to be taken care of as quickly as possible. He's
got to lay down the law to us to a certain extent. I keep telling my wife how lucky she is
to be in her line of work. Everything in her place is buddy-buddy. But I guess with this
work it just can’t be that way. The manager has to be strict in order to get the work done.
Isn't that right!"
"Some of the supervisors are great to work with, but others just aren’t good at
supervising they don’t know how to communicate. Now when Martin is on, it is
altogether different. He knows how to get things done right the first time."
The relationships on Floor One tend to be formal and impersonal. There is very little
giving and-take or camaraderie. Martin equitably divides and clearly assigns the work,
and no one complains that his workers are slack in carrying out their tasks. Yet when
Martin is off the floor, there is evidence of antagonism between the older workers and the
The atmosphere on Floor Two is informal and friendly. Workers discuss their problems
with one another, and there is a good deal of talk and good-natured horseplay.
Mr. Franklin, the shop manager, spends much of his time on the floor helping with problems
and informally chatting with workers. He often consults with workers about quality
problems and changes in procedures.
Franklin expresses his attitude about supervision as follows: "The shop has changed since l
was a trainee. At that time, it was just losing the old military discipline and becoming more
reasonable in its approach. Nowadays you’ve got to trust that your employees can and will
accept responsibility for the quality of their own work. If I was always looking over their
shoulders, I'd go nuts, and they’d rebel."
Franklin encourages interaction among the workers and a group approach to problem
solving. He set up a task team to study the process of end-Line inspection and rubber-
stamped their recommendations to cut back resources at that point. He also set up a system
in which quality control responsibility is rotated to the various members within each work
group. The system seems to work well, because the workers are happy with it. There is some
concern, however, that more supervision and tracking of the system may be necessary.
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