Management Case Study on the Costly Communication Seminar


The Costly Communication Seminar Alisa and Charles met in the hallway by chance and decided to have lunch together. Both are top managers at Hayden Unified School District (Alisa is the human resources manager and Charles is the comptroller). They got into a conversation about the value to the school district of employees’ attending so many communication seminars. This was prompted by the fourth advertisement Alisa had received this week about such seminars coming to their town. Although they are friends who, in the past, have always regarded each other highly, the conversation got rather heated at times as each warmed up to presenting his or her position. Charles’s Position These seminars are “rip-offs.” At $150 for an eight-hour session—on school time— the school district loses a day’s wages for no work done, as well as the cost of the seminar. If employees need to improve their communication skills, then their immediate supervisors should let them know, and they can attend night school or the community college or a seminar like this at their own expense. Alisa’s Position It is to the school district’s advantage to support in principle, as well as in financial terms, employees who desire to improve themselves in an effort to become better employees. If 100 employees were to attend a school district-paid seminar from the 1,000 employees on staff, then costs incurred in community misunderstandings at school board meetings could be minimized, and the $15,000 ($150 x 100) would be negligible. Look at the $50,000 legal fee for litigation the school district had to pay because of the recent “miscommunication problem” between an assistant principal and a parent of an eighth-grader. A case in point, look how much difficulty we are having trying to communicate our positions right now! Alisa was almost at the point of becoming very agitated with Charles and vice versa.

Discussion Questions

  1. What valid points does Charles make about this issue?
  2. What valid points does Alisa make?
  3. Which position would you support and why?

Case study 12-2

Your organization has recently promoted several area managers from other countries. The employees in your company have been experiencing difficulty in understanding communications from these area managers. The vice president, Eddie Johnston, has asked you to develop a short checklist to orient managers on good intercultural communication. He plans to have a training session soon.

Discussion Questions

  1. What items will you present on your checklist?
  2. Why does this situation sometimes occur in organizations?