I’ve been taking a class and every so often we are given scenarios that provide very little information but give just enough information to steer most of the class to conclusions without looking at other possibilities. In addition, questions are also asked to force students to make decisions on the scenario or about individuals in the scenario.
Just this week we had a scenario that involved a supervisor trying to decide which employee should represent the department on a team to look at a problem that impacts the department. There were two newer employees in the department the supervisor was considering. The supervisor thought one of the employees was too quiet to be on a team and, as far as the other employee, the supervisor was thinking about reprimanding her because of her communication style. That was all the information given.
This set off a discussion among my peers about which employee would be better on the team. Most of them followed the instructions and decided on one of the employees that would be most appropriate for the team even though they had no real information to support their decision.
One of my concerns with this scenario and similar types of scenarios, is they are representative of how decisions are normally made. Before we know any of the facts, we take a side or take a position on an issue, or, we decide on a single solution to a problem. I like these types of scenarios because they do make you think but people also need to be reminded about having adequate information to solve problems especially when they are about to go in the workplace. Today, with all the changes and the competition workplaces are facing, problem solving skills are very badly needed. Students need to be encouraged to look at all the information before coming to a conclusion or solving a problem with limited information. This only reinforces the wrong way to resolve problems instead of learning real problem solving skills.
The other concern I had especially with this scenario was about choosing people for teams. The supervisor was trying to decide which personality would be best to represent the department at the team meetings. Unfortunately, with this scenario, students are forced to chose between personality styles and determine which one is best for a team. It’s unfortunate because every personality style is needed for teams to be successful. Each brings a different perspective to the team and the problems that will be addressed. The more personalities on a team, the better decisions because each personality style brings a different understanding or a different way of looking at issues that confront teams. It also keeps teams from jumping to the single solution of a problem.
Another point that wasn’t made in this scenario was the team leader or facilitator will have tools available to help with different personality styles. The job of the team leader or facilitator is to help the team reach its goals so it will be imperative for that person to have the skills to bring everybody together. Having a variety of personalities on a team doesn’t necessarily mean failure.
Finally, it’s also important with labor-management committees, labor picks their members and management picks their members. Not only does it help to represent the interests of each but it also can be a much more fair approach instead of focusing on possible personality clashes.