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1 B-t-B - By the Book

The operating problems and employee conflicts are festering and have been growing for several weeks. Steve Brown is the assistant manager of the Southland Discount City Store and has avoided any repercussions from downtown so far. But things are getting out of hand.

Besides various other duties, Steve works closely with the cash activities where most of the problems and conflicts are. The difficulties relate generally to scheduling and assignment of employees and to a somewhat higher than usual error rate at the check-out registers. These problems are affecting employee attitudes and the number of customer complaints is increasing.

"This thing is getting contagious," Steve says in response to the store manager's question. "I have followed the book to the letter on this one and it is not improving. It worries me but I don't know what else to do. If it were up to me, I'd sit them down and tell them the facts of life. It would either straighten up or we would have some new faces around here. It is not my call, though. I think we should give it a little more time. Maybe it will settle down without our doing anything drastic."

The manager leans back in his chair and says, "Steve, the issue is what you are going to do about the problem."

In a sincere voice, Steve says, "Given everything involved, I am bumping this one up to you." Handing a paper to the manager, Steve continues, "Here is the thing in a nutshell. The policy book says to send a problem like this up the line. Here is the I-R-627 on the thing. I have been as complete as I can. I think we better play it safe with this one."

The manager glances at the form but does not read it. Instead, he says, "I still want to know what you are going to do about the problem."

Steve has a frustrated expression as he collects his thoughts and says, "I want to help you out with this one, but it is out of my area. It needs to be handled either by Personnel or the training types. I think it is important for the store for me to stay within my authority. People getting outside their areas is a problem you have, as you know better than any of us."

With only a little more intensity, the manager says, "It will help me if we handle this in-house. Why don't you take this one by the horns and shake it a little? If you get any flack from downtown, I will take care of it for you."

Steve thinks a long time before he says, "I wish I could. I have played this one by the numbers and can't afford to run the chance of its blowing up on me. I don't want to end up the goat."

The manager's frustration now shows. "Steve, I asked you nicely to take care of this problem. Are you going to force me to write this up? If that happens, it will go downtown and there is no predicting what will come of that."

Steve is slow to respond. "I don't want that any more than you do. It won't help taking the thing out on each other. Give me a couple days to work on it. There has to be some way I can help you get this little thing worked out. It is just not that big of a deal. Let me get back to you on this one."

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