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The Management Training Tool Kit: 35 Exercises to Prepare Managers for the Challenges They Face Every Day

The Management Training Tool Kit: 35 Exercises to Prepare Managers for the Challenges They Face Every Day

by Alan Clardy

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Most people learn best through experience. Yet new managers are often tossed on to the front lines with absolutely no experience handling the toughest challenges they’ll face: people problems.

The Management Training Tool Kit includes all the tools you need to prepare your managers for anything. It supplies


Most people learn best through experience. Yet new managers are often tossed on to the front lines with absolutely no experience handling the toughest challenges they’ll face: people problems.

The Management Training Tool Kit includes all the tools you need to prepare your managers for anything. It supplies real-life case studies and analysis exercises for troubleshooting problems such as plummeting morale, interpersonal conflict, decreased productivity, disruptive employees, sexual harassment claims, and more. This innovative training guide features:

• 35 succinct yet nuanced case studies that examine common challenges

• Probing discussion questions that help pinpoint core issues

• Practical solutions that can be put to use resolving problems

• Role-playing exercises that bring the case studies alive

• Guidelines that help trainers lead with skill and accuracy

New managers will make mistakes. But The Management Training Tool Kit will help them overcome obstacles with skill and confidence.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“…a great resource for young or new managers, but also for those who want to continue to improve and prepare themselves…” --Strategy: Business Learning & Life

"Real-world situations and genuine, tough decisions are behind the 35 case studies Alan Clardy lays out in this set of training exercises for managers and supervisors." --HR Magazine

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The Management Training Tool Kit

35 Exercises to Prepare Managers for the Challenges They Face Every Day
By Alan Clardy


Copyright © 2012 HRD Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-3114-6

Chapter One

Case 1 How Come They Make More Than I Do?

Background Information

Fran Jefferson began her job as the supervisor of the Training Department of Metro Bank and Trust Company almost four years ago. She was generally pleased with the four trainers and one secretary in her unit. Indeed, Fran took pride in her ability to create a high-morale and high-performance unit. This was particularly pleasing to Fran because they were constantly busy and barely able to keep up with the volume of training expected from them.

Then, early on Wednesday morning, Fran's secretary, Judy Martin, knocked on Fran's door and asked to see her. Fran liked Judy and considered the secretary to be one of her "stars." Indeed, in an effort to develop Judy's talents and abilities, Fran had gone out of her way to give Judy special assignments, including her in all the major planning activities of the department and entrusting her with the administration of certain departmental programs, such as tuition assistance and evaluation follow-through. By now, Judy functioned more as an administrative aide than as a secretary.

It was clear that Judy was upset about something as she seated herself in the chair next to Fran's desk. Slowly, Judy placed a job-posting application form in front of Fran. She would not look her supervisor in the eyes.

Fran was surprised, to say the least. As far as Fran knew, Judy liked both her job and working in the Training Department. In turn, everyone else in the department liked and respected Judy.

Fran looked over the form and said casually, "So you want to post for the executive secretary job in the Branch Management Division." She paused. "Could I ask you for some additional information, Judy? I'm kind of surprised."

Judy looked at her clasped hands, thinking. Fran waited.

Finally, Judy looked up and said: "I noticed in last week's job posting that the executive secretary position is graded as a 14. Now that's two grades higher than my job!"

She caught her breath. "You know my friend Mary Johnson works over there. She told me that half the time the secretary sits around doing nothing."

Judy continued, gathering some anger in her look and resentment in her voice. "Look, Fran, you know how hard I work, how hard we all work, around here. I mean, I'm always busy. I don't see why I should work in a job graded at a 12 and work twice as hard and yet not be paid the same as that secretary. The requirements for the job are just a little higher than mine, and the merit raise you gave me last month hardly helped at all."

Fran listened, then she replied: "It sounds to me, Judy, that you're feeling angry because you think you should be paid more for the work you do and that you want to switch jobs rather than put up with things as they are. Am I right?"

Judy nodded her head in agreement.

Fran knew, though, that the Metro job evaluation system was up to date and that the executive secretary position to which Judy referred did require additional back ground experience, skills, and responsibilities beyond what was needed in Judy's current job. Because her secretary was such a good employee and a nice person, Fran was quite concerned. She felt strongly that moving to the executive secretary job would not be what Judy really wanted, and she hated to lose Judy, especially if her decision was based on faulty reasoning and the move would not be good for her.

Fran tried to figure out what to do.


1. What are the reasons given by Judy Martin for wanting to post for a position in another department? Which points are accurate and which are debatable?

2. How should Fran respond to Judy's request to transfer?

3. How should Fran respond to Judy's salary complaints?

Case Discussion: How Come They Make More Than I Do?


Fran Jefferson supervised the Training Department of Metro Bank. One of her star employees, Judy Martin, surprised Fran one day with a job-posting application. Judy wanted to transfer to another department where the employees made more money (in higher evaluated jobs) and supposedly did less work. In the ensuing discussion, Fran learned that Judy was very unhappy with the merit increase she had recently received. Judy believed she could earn more money in the open position, which was three grades higher than the position she currently occupied.

Judy now functioned more as an administrative assistant than as the departmental secretary (the position for which she had been hired). Fran knew that the job evaluation system in use was valid and up-to-date, and that grade differences between Judy's job and the open position meant real differences in responsibility, skill, and accountability.

Fran did not want to lose Judy.

Answers to Case Questions

1. What are the reasons given by Judy Martin for wanting to post for a position in another department? Which points are accurate and which are debatable?

Judy's line of reasoning is as follows:

(a) Her recent merit increase was not adequate enough reward for her hard work. This is Judy's opinion, and for her, it is true.

(b) There is an open position that would pay much more than what she is making now. It is true that this open position would pay her more than she is making now.

(c) She has heard that the job in question is easier to do than the one she has now. Unfortunately, this point is misleading and probably wrong. Her information is based on hearsay. In fact, grade differences of three levels mean these jobs require higher levels of talent, initiative, and responsibility. Judy has confused being busy with working at a higher level of difficulty.

(d) Therefore, she wants to get an easier, higher paying job by moving to that new position. She might get a higher paying job, but it would not likely be an easier job.

2. How should Fran respond to Judy's request to transfer?

In many job-posting systems, the posting employee is required to notify his or her supervisor of the intention to post for a position. However, the employee is not required to obtain the supervisor's permission. To the extent that this rule applies here, Fran cannot do anything but pass along the posting application.

However, it would be prudent of Fran to help Judy make the best career decision in this manner. While agreeing to move the job-posting application along, Fran should also counsel Judy. First, she should encourage Judy to do some career and job informational interviewing. For example, Judy should be encouraged to meet with people in the other department to learn what they really do. Second, she needs to think about what she wants in a job. Finally, Fran should explain to Judy that the jobs are graded differently because there are real and significant differences in the jobs. She should caution Judy that hearsay can be misleading and that she should look at the executive secretary position in terms of levels of skills and account ability, not just in terms of dollar differences.

3. How should Fran respond to Judy's salary complaints?

It is likely that Judy is motivated in part by her anger and resentment over what she sees as an inadequate recognition of her hard work. Fran should work to communicate her appreciation for Judy's contributions. In addition, Fran needs to note that Judy is performing a job that is higher than the job for which she was hired. Judy should institute a job re-evaluation request.

Chapter Two

Case 2 "She's a Smart Enough Broad"

Background Information

The young man glanced at the nameplate on his desk after closing the file cabinet drawer: James Washington, Center Manager. He leaned against the cabinet for a moment, smiling and thinking.

James really liked the way that title sounded. And why not? He was only 24 years old, had just completed the company's Management Associate Trainee Program, and had just assumed the manager's job at the Northview Servicing Center. He was eager to do a good job in this first assignment, and there was a lot about the job that he liked. However, there was one thing he didn't like, and he could see her through the glass partition of his office out on the service center's main floor.

His problem was Dorothy Rogers or, more exactly, the way he felt about her. In his opinion, she was both pushing and resisting him.

Dorothy was something of an established figure at Northview, having worked there for over 12 years as an assistant manager. She was now 59 years old and had dropped hints occasionally about retiring. "If only ...," James thought to himself.

He remembered the first time he met Dorothy about six weeks ago. James had just learned he was being promoted into the Northview manager's job. He went to visit the service center to meet the personnel and begin the transition process with Hank Waters. Hank was the current manager and was being moved to manage a larger branch of the company closer to his home. He had been at Northview almost two years.

After showing James the facility and introducing some of the sales and service representatives, Hank had walked James to Dorothy's desk and introduced them. Although she was very pleasant and nice, James watched rather uncomfortably as Hank tried to pass along an assignment to her regarding a customer account investigation. Six weeks later, their exchange, which follows, remained clear in James's memory.

Hank: By the way, Dorothy, can you follow up on the Williams's account problem we talked about earlier today? I just got word from downtown that ...

Dorothy: (interrupting in a soft yet determined voice) Now Hank, you know that if I do that for you, I won't be able to take care of the budget reconcilement report you have me do each week. Don't you think you can take care of it yourself?

Hank: (pausing a moment, obviously thinking) Well, yes, I know you're busy. I was just hoping that you could ...

Dorothy: (jumping back in, this time with a certain accusatory tone in her voice) Look, Hank, what do you want me to do? I can't do both. You know I'm busy. (She stares expectantly at Hank; James looks at her desk, which is neat and clean.)

Hank: Well, you know ... okay, you may be right. Let me go ahead and do it.

Dorothy: (nodding in agreement) That's better, I think. Don't you?

Hank had seemed relieved to end the conversation. He walked with James back into his office. Dorothy went to get some coffee.

"She really runs this place," Hank told James. "I hate to impose. She knows so much about all the operational and service matters of this center."

James nodded his head. "I guess she must be pretty important."

Hank hadn't reacted as he sat behind his desk.

James moved back to the chair behind his desk. He continued to look at Dorothy as she finished working with her customer. He thought back to his first few weeks on the job. At first, Dorothy had been fine and, in fact, very helpful. This was perfect because not only did James still have a great deal to learn about Northview's operations, he also had a lot of work to do elsewhere. For example, much of his time was spent outside the service center, meeting existing customers, doing sales calls, attending training, and fulfilling similar obligations. In the month that he had been at Northview, he had spent probably no more than a total of five hours with her.

Unfortunately, most of that time with Dorothy had spent sorting out and listening to a problem between her and senior service associate, Bonnie Johnson. Bonnie was Dorothy's age, but that was about all the two women seemed to have in common, for Bonnie was rather quiet and reserved. James had expressed his interest in Bonnie taking a more active role in working with the other service associates, but Dorothy had not liked that idea, thinking that James was trying to take away some of her job duties. Consequently, she started fighting with Bonnie over any little detail.

James learned about this bickering from comments and meetings with both Dorothy and Bonnie, as well as from some of the center's other service associates. Last Monday, after what seemed like a week of nonstop arguing, he called them both into his office.

"Look, you two," he told them, "I'm really getting tired of all this squabbling. I expect both of you to cooperate and function as a team. I'm the one running the show here. If this fighting doesn't stop, I'll have to put you on probation. And if it doesn't stop after that, I may just fire you."

Shocked and silent, both had left his office without barely a glance in his direction.

After that meeting, Dorothy became quiet, but seemed unmotivated. She appeared to have settled into a low-energy and low-output mode. She would do what she was supposed to do, but nothing more than that. And James had overheard her complaining to other employees, both at Northview and elsewhere, about a number of things, including the company, the service center, and James. He had thought to himself, "She's just a negative person. Sure, she's a smart enough broad. She knows how far she can go. But don't expect her to be of any real help."

Upon remembering those thoughts, James leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. He could not argue with that estimation of Dorothy, only confirm it. His mind turned to what had happened at closing yesterday. The memory was so vivid it was as if the events were taking place at that very moment.

The last customer had just left and the doors are locked. Everyone is busy closing their stations when suddenly Dorothy brings out a small portable television, makes herself comfortable at her desk, and turns the television on, clearly intending to watch it.

James, seeing her do this, is dumbfounded. He thinks to himself, "What in the heck is she doing? If my boss comes here, I'm in big trouble." He remembers the recent memo from headquarters, demanding more productivity and application to getting the work done.

He walks over to her desk. She smiles as he approaches and says, "Oh, it's okay, James. We do this every so often. Hank said I could watch it when I had to stay and finish up routine work, as long as I wouldn't let it interfere with the work."

James feels pushed to the limit. He decides not to say anything to her and leaves, certain that at this point she's testing him, trying to find out how far she can go. She is challenging his authority again, he feels, and this time he must do something dramatic.

James was still trying to decide what to do as he watched Dorothy finish with the customer and return to her seat.


1. Is there a problem(s) here?

2. What is (are) the problem(s)?

3. What should be done?

Case Discussion: "She's a Smart Enough Broad"


James Washington was a young graduate of the organization's Management Associate Trainee Program. He recently assumed the manager's job at one of the organization's service centers, Northview Servicing. Dorothy Rogers had been an assistant manager at Northview for over 12 years and was more than twice James's age. After a series of encounters with her, James began to feel that Dorothy was resisting his taking over leadership of the service center and was working behind his back to undermine his authority. James threatened to fire her at one point. Subsequently, she became passive and withdrawn. To James's astonishment, one day after the store had closed, she brought out a portable television and placed it on her desk, intending to watch it. This act was in direct violation of company directives. James wondered what to do about the situation.

Answers to Case Questions

1. Is there a problem(s) here?

Yes, there are several problems here.

2. What is (are) the problems?

First, there is the immediate problem of Dorothy violating company rules by bringing out the television.

Second, there is the more deep-seated problem of James need to establish a working relationship with someone with whom he has had difficulty. To complicate matters even more, James is dependent upon Dorothy for help with managing the center because of her expertise and background. Unfortunately, James indicates that he has an attitude and set of assumptions about her that can hamper the establishment of a good working relationship (for example, his derogatory and backhanded compliment that she was a "smart enough broad"). James's limited experience managing others will be a drawback in this respect.

Third, there is the more profound problem of establishing effective control and leadership over the service center.


Excerpted from The Management Training Tool Kit by Alan Clardy Copyright © 2012 by HRD Press. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ALAN CLARDY, PH.D., is a professor in the Psychology Department and director of the Human Resource Development Graduate Degree Program at Towson University, as well as the author of many books and articles on HR issues.

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