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Six Scenarios in the Workplace

Scene One: First Day On The Job

Sheila felt ready to get to work after her one day job orientation for new employees. When she got to work, however, she was shocked. She was not prepared for the fast pace, sophistication and skill level found in her new department. By noon that day, Sheila felt like she was not cut out for the job. She felt underskilled and under prepared to meet her department's challenges.

On her way to the company cafeteria one of her co-workers, Tammy, caught up with her and they had lunch together. Sheila was glad that Tammy was so friendly to her and she was able to relax a little bit. During lunch Tammy talked about their manager, Mr. Smith. Sheila learned that Mr. Smith was in trouble with his superiors. Next, Tammy told her about James, the computer programmer. She told Sheila that James spread rumors and was not to be trusted. She talked about Mrs. Tyler, the accountant. She said that Mrs. Tyler was an alcoholic and frequently took sips from a whisky bottle in her desk.

Tammy asked Sheila to join her for coffee after work. She said, "Trust me, Sheila. Once you come to understand how screwed up everyone is around here, and get the feel of the place, you'll do fine."

Question: Why would Tammy be so friendly towards Sheila? What might happen if Sheila gets close to Tammy? Have you ever been in a similar situation?


Scene Two: What's Your Style?
During his first week on the job, John was eager to learn everything and to know everyone in his department. He gave his opinion freely in discussions. He worked overtime and did excellent work. Everyone seemed to like him. One man who had been with the company for a long time said, "You can't help but like John, but you can tell that he'd leave this department in a second if it meant getting closer to the top."

Erica started work on the same day as John. Unlike John, however, Erica kept more to herself. She concentrated on her job and stayed in her area. She made an effort to learn from others and listened to others in order to understand situations before jumping in with suggestions. One of her co-workers said, "Erica is a really nice gal. I think she's going to make a strong employee. I like her."

Question: What do you think the future will be like for John? For Erica?

Scene Three: Are You Ready?

Just before Doug went home from his job as a cook on Friday night, the restaurant manager informed him that she would be taking the next two weeks off, and that she was appointing Doug to take her place starting Monday.

Although Doug has more seniority than the other employees and is an excellent cook, he doesn't feel confident in being able to handle the manger's job. Doug doesn't feel comfortable dealing with the customers, using the cash register, or handling conflicts that may arise between employees. He feels that he will fail at being able to fill her shoes.

Question: What should Doug do?

Scene Four: Moving Up, So Fast?
Rosa feels really good about her new job. Her supervisor seems happy with her performance. She's learned everything she needed to learn and is all around proving herself to be a good employee.

Most people at the factory are close to one another and seem like a family. Rosa hasn't spent any time getting to know any of them since she has been spending her time learning her new job. Now, she can perform her job as well as or better than any of the other workers.

Lately Rosa's been thinking about the possibility of becoming a supervisor at the factory. She figures that since the job comes so easy to her that she needs a new challenge. She plans on making an appointment with her supervisor next week to discuss what steps she would need to take in order to move up to a supervisory position.

Question: Do you think it would be a good idea for Rosa to move ahead on her desire to become a supervisor? Have you ever been in a similar situation?


Scene Five: Absenteeism

After having spent a great weekend camping, Kyle woke up Monday morning with a fever and a bad stomach ache. He loved his new job, but realized that he would have to call in sick. The others would have to pitch in to do his work. As it turned out staying home Monday wasn't enough. He also had to call in sick on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even after three days at home he still didn't feel well, but figured that he had better get back to work in order not to jeopardize his job. He went to work on Thursday and struggled through until the weekend.

The next Monday Kyle feels in top shape and everyone, including his supervisor, is friendly to him and glad to see him feeling better. Kyle starts telling them all about the fun he had on his camping trip. He could talk of little else all day. He was so busy talking about his fun weekend that he forgot to thank his coworkers for covering for him. Soon he began to notice tension between himself and his co-workers. His supervisor also seemed more demanding.

Question: What mistake did Kyle make? Is there anything wrong with being absent when you first start a job?


Scene Six: Decisions
After one year on the job, Lima was called into her supervisor's office. Lima was nervous and thought back over the last few weeks to see if she had made any mistakes at work. She couldn't think of anything she had done wrong.

Lima was relieved when Mrs. Peterson asked her if she would like to take a higher paying position in one of two departments. As it turned out, both departments had openings and had heard about Lima's excellent skills and work performance. Lima could have her choice between the two departments.

Department A is supervised by Mr. Kent, a long-term employee. Department A has the reputation for promoting its employees faster than any other department. On the other hand, Mr. Kent is known to be highly authoritarian and have a short fuse if things don't go the way he wants. In fact, his employee turnover rate is higher than that of any other department.

Department B is supervised by Ms. Lee, a young manager recently out of college. Under Ms. Lee's supervision people seem to be very productive and have a good time in the process. Many workers envy the people who work in Ms. Lee's department. On the other hand no one has been promoted from Ms. Lee's department in the two years since she's been manager.

Question: What should Lima do? Why?

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