Free Case Study On Management Functions

Laura is the Associate Director of a non-profit agency that provides assistance to children and families. She is the head of a department that focuses on evaluating the skill-building programs the agency provides to families. She reports directly to the agency leadership. As a whole, the agency has been cautious in hiring this year because of increased competition for federal grant funding. However, they have also suffered high staff turnover. Two directors have left, as well as three key research staff, and one staff person from the finance department.

Laura has a demanding schedule that requires frequent travel; however she supervises two managers, who in turn are responsible for five staff members each. Both managers have been appointed within the last six months.

Manager 1: Kelly has a specific background in research. She manages staff who provide research support to another department that delivers behavioral health services to youth. Kelly supports her staff and is very organized; however, she often takes a very black and white view of issues. Upper level leadership values Kelly’s latest research on the therapeutic division’s services. Kelly is very motivated, driven, and expects the same from her staff.

Manager 2: Linda has a strong background in social science research and evaluation. She manages staff that work on different projects within the agency. She is known as problem solver and is extremely supportive of her staff. She is very organized and has a wealth of experience in evaluation of family services. Linda is very capable and can sometimes take on too much.

The managers are sensing that staff are becoming over-worked as everyone takes on increased responsibilities due to high staff turnover. Staff have also mentioned that Laura’s “glass half-empty” conversation style leaves them feeling dejected. In addition, Laura has not shared budgets with her managers, so they are having difficulty appropriately allocating work to staff. Laura said she has not received sufficient information from the finance department to complete the budgets. The finance department said they have sent her all the information they have available.

As staff become distressed, the managers are becoming frustrated. They feel like they are unable to advocate for their staff or problem solve without key information like the departmental budget.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can Laura most effectively use both management and leadership skills in her role as associate director? What combination of the two do you think would work best in this setting?

    Click here to see our suggestions

    A director could be both a leader and manager. However given that the two mangers are very capable and directly manage all the department staff, Laura should focus on being a leader. She should delegate managerial responsibilities to the two managers. This strategy will build the managers’ confidence allowing them to problem-solve for their staff. It will also free Laura to focus on building a greater sense of staff commitment to mission and vision.

  2. What steps could be taken to build staff confidence?

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    Staff seems uncertain about the future due to high turnover and a Laura’s negative conversation style. Building staff confidence could involve:

    • Giving managers more autonomy and the needed information to manage their staff
    • Communicating regularly with staff about changes
    • Encourage staff to pursue professional development and learning opportunities and provide time for them to do so
    • Engaging in team building exercises and interactions
    • Incentivizing excellent performance
    • Addressing Laura’s conversation style directly, explaining to her how it impacts staff perceptions
    • Involving staff in the hiring process where possible as team vacancies are filled
    • Talking to staff directly and without retribution about the issues they think contribute to high-turnover  
  3. What advice would you give Laura on improving her leadership skills and to the managers on improving their management skills?

    Click here to see our suggestions.

    It might help for both Laura and the managers to take a personality or leadership/management assessment. This way the mangers can ascertain their individual skills, learn how they can best support employees, and figure out how they can work together to use each other's strengths to run the department. Using a Style approach, Manager 1 appears to utilize a task oriented approach and Manager 2 demonstrates a relationship oriented style. These two orientations could be structured to support one another.

    Laura can focus on building leadership skills by building on her current strengths. In addition, Laura may want to revisit the roles and responsibilities of each position and how her division's work aligns with the overall organizational mission. Aligning with the overall mission and communicating it to staff may help improve morale and provide clarity on the department's role and direction.

  4. Which leadership style do you think a leader would need to be effective in this situation?

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    Several leadership approaches may be suited for the position described in the scenario:

    Skills: Centers on the ability to solve complex problems. The non-profit is having several difficulties at the organizational level including high-turnover.

    Path Goal: Motivates employees by defining goals, clarifying paths, removing obstacles, and providing support. This type of leadership may work well in building employee morale.

    Transformational: Treats employees as complete human beings, considers emotions and perspectives. Builds motivation by providing a clear vision, acting as a social architect, building trust, and positive self-regard.

Welcome to our free case collections. As part of The Case Centre’s commitment to promoting the case method and supporting case teachers, we offer a growing range of free cases produced by a number of prominent schools and organisations across the globe.

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Amity Research Centers has selected ten cases from its health and medical care collection to be available free via The Case Centre. Amity Research Centers feels there is a dearth of expertise in health and medical care and that knowledge of developments and initiatives in healthcare is limited. It makes a deliberate effort to write cases about healthcare management in various organisations and for public health policy makers.
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Australia and New Zealand School of Government’s (ANZSOG) teaching cases are all set in the public sector – topics ranging from public value to risk management and regulation – with most recounting events from the past five to ten years. The collection comprises nearly 200 cases, with a selection available for free from The Case Centre.
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These free cases from the Australian College of the Arts (Collarts) are aimed at students studying music organisations in arts management or music business programmes. They are written by eminent music insiders, including Paul Saintilan, Dean of Collarts, previously at EMI Music and Universal Music; Rob Cannon of the Australian Institute of Music who has also held international record company roles; and Michael Smellie, a former Chief Operating Officer at Sony BMG. 
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Copenhagen Business School

This collection of free cases is part of Copenhagen Business School’s commitment to the Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME). All the cases focus on aspects of responsible management, including social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability. The cases address a number of interdisciplinary subjects making them suitable for a wide range of courses in business schools and universities. New free cases will be added regularly.
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E-FORCE

Developed as part of a project co-financed by the Directorate General Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, this free case collection includes 18 innovative teaching cases on technology entrepreneurship. The cases all have accompanying teaching notes and many have media support items. 
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Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University

Few resources on the delivery of health services and health technologies in low-resource settings currently exist for educators. The Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University has begun to fill this gap with a series of teaching cases and accompanying teaching notes examining principles of healthcare delivery in low-resource settings that are freely available for download and distribution.
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IMD

IMD's collection of free cases includes a case series on the KasKazi Network that deals with the distribution of fast-moving consumer goods to low-income areas in Kenya. The collection also includes eleven 'climate saver' cases that showcase corporate best practices in carbon-saving products and processes and feature companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Lafarge, Novo Nordisk, Nokia Siemens Networks and Tetra Pak, among others. The cases were featured at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference thanks to IMD's collaboration with the WWF's Climate Savers. 
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Medical Peace Work

This collection of 12 free teaching cases was developed by Medical Peace Work, a partnership of medical organisations and teaching institutions committed to the development of expertise in health work, violence prevention and peace building. The cases depict challenging situations for health professionals who are looking for ways to prevent and reduce violence and other forms of power abuse, and to build trust, understanding, mutually enriching structures and a culture of peace.
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MIT Sloan's LearningEdge

In early 2009, the MIT Sloan School of Management began free distribution of select teaching materials created by faculty and students at the school. The collection, available on LearningEdge, covers a wide array of companies and organisations, industries, and geographies, and focuses on a number of business disciplines. 
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Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford Graduate School of Business has produced a large number of free cases covering subjects such as e-commerce, entrepreneurship, international business, marketing, operations information & technology, political economics and strategic management.  
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The Case Centre

We have partnered with a group of leading business schools to provide this collection of free cases on topical issues. Currently 10 free cases are available covering a wide variety of subject categories and topics. 
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The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Legatum Center case studies illuminate the thought processes of entrepreneurs, the challenges they face, and the solutions they devise as they develop their businesses. These cases are available without charge to help teachers, students, and aspiring entrepreneurs. At the same time, they may demonstrate to academics and governments the value of entrepreneurial activities in low-income countries.  
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