In June 2001 tropical storm Allison hit North Carolina and the Optima Air Filter Company. Many employees’ homes were devastated, and the firm found that it had to hire almost three completely new crews, one for each of its shifts. The problem was that the “old-timers” had known their jobs so well that no one had ever bothered to draw up job descriptions for them. When about 30 new employees began taking their places, there was general confusion about what they should do and how they should do it.
The storm quickly became old news to the firm’s out-of-state customers, who wanted filters, not excuses. Phil Mann, the firm’s president, was at his wit’s end. He had about 30 new employees, 10 old-timers, and his original factory supervisor, Maybelline. He decided to meet with Linda Lowe, a consultant from the local university’s business school. She immediately had the old-timers fill out a job questionnaire that listed all their duties.
Arguments ensued almost at once: Both Phil and Maybelline thought the old-timers were exaggerating to make themselves look more important, and the old-timers insisted that the lists faithfully reflected their duties. Meanwhile, the customers clamored for their filters. Questions a. Should Phil and Linda ignore the old-timers’ protests and write up the job descriptions as they see fit? Why? Why not? How would you go about resolving the differences? b. How would you have conducted the job analysis?