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CASE STUDY What Went Wrong

Sam Lopez supervised a refrigeration manufacturer’s distribution department. With his recent promotion to this position he inherited a number of experienced workers and one new employee, Jeremy Taylor, who’d been onboard for a week.

It was the end of the month and Sam was under a lot of pressure to get the inventory out of the warehouse, loaded onto trucks, and on the road to customers. Loading the large refrigeration units was hard work but not difficult, and because he saw Jeremy just following around one of the other workers and watching, Sam decided to assign Jeremy to work on the loading dock.

“Jeremy, come over here!” Sam yelled on his way to check on inventory control.

“Listen, these units need to go on the truck, pronto! The customer expected them last week, and we’re gonna lose money if we don’t get them out of here today. Do you think you can handle it?”

“Sure, boss. No problem,” said Jeremy.

At the end of the day, Sam stopped Jeremy on his way out the door and asked,

“Did you get all those units loaded? Any problems?”

“They’re probably halfway across the state by now. Everything went fine. See you tomorrow.”

Sam was relieved and thought to himself, “This guy’s gonna work out great. At least that’s one headache I won’t have to worry about.”

A few days later, Sam called Jeremy into his office and began shouting at him. “I through you told me everything went fine with those units you loaded!”

Without waiting for a response, he continued, “Well, let me tell you that everything was not fine. When the truck arrived on the customer’s doorstep, almost all the units were damaged. You didn’t load them nice and tight and so they banged into each other along the way. Now the company’s out a lot of money and I’m in hot water, thanks to you.”

“I don’t understand it, Sam,” responded Jeremy. “I got ‘em on the truck and out the door in record time. You said so yourself. What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened. You didn’t put the shorter boxes in the narrow end of the truck with the larger ones up against them. How could you do that?

Anyone with half a brain would know to do that. It’s common sense. You can bet this is going to show up on your personnel record and if anything like this happens again, you’re out of here. Now get back to work.”

Review of case study

Clearly, Sam did many things wrong. He didn’t clearly define the performance expectations, nor did he create checkpoints or observe Jeremy’s performance.

He should have told Jeremy that he was to load the units so that they would not move during transit.

He should have explained that if the units were not loaded tightly, much of the merchandise would be damaged and the company would suffer a significant financial loss.

Furthermore, Sam should have told Jeremy to load the shorter boxes in the narrow end of the truck with the larger ones behind and he should have checked Jeremy’s work fairly early on to see if he was meeting the standards set. Sam handled the feedback session badly, too.

He was judgmental and made personal attacks on Jeremy. There was certainly no evidence of any attempt at two-way communication or at helping to improve Jeremy’s performance.

Formal Progress Checks

Because the designated ETD practitioner and supervisor have their own jobs at the same time that someone is being trained, most evaluation and feedback is done informally. However, a weekly progress report will help all parties measure training and learning efforts along the way. The report presented in Figure 6.2 is brief but prompts and documents a continuous assessment.

An Example of Weekly Progress Report

Whether formal or informal, an evaluation of a learner’s performance should address the following areas:

 Job knowledge

Performance standards (quality, quantity, speed, accuracy)

 Strengths

 Specific areas for improvement

 Action plan

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