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SBS – MBA Communication & Negotiation Skills Case Study Assignment

SBS – MBA Communication & Negotiation Skills Case Study Assignment Solutions


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Effective Communication as a Motivator


One common complaint employee’s voice about supervisors is inconsistent messages – meaning one supervisor tells them one thing and another tells them something different. Imagine you are the supervisor/manager for each of the employees described below. As you read their case, give consideration to how you might help communicate with the employee to remedy the conflict. Answer the critical thinking questions at the end of the case.


Barry is a 27-year-old who is a foodservice manager at a casual dining restaurant.  Barry is responsible for supervising and managing all employees in the back of the house. Employees working in the back of the house range in age from 16 years old to 55 years old. In addition, the employees come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  For many, English is not their primary language.

Barry is ServSafe® certified and tries his best to keep up with food safety issues in the kitchen but he admits it’s not easy. Employees receive “on the job training” about food safety basics (for example, appropriate hygiene and hand washing, time/temperature, and cleaning and sanitizing). But with high turnover of employees, training is often rushed and some new employees are put right into the job without training if it is a busy day.  Eventually, most employees get some kind of food safety training. The owners of the restaurant are supportive of Barry in his food safety efforts because they know if a food safety outbreak were ever linked to their restaurant; it would likely put them out of business. Still, the owners note there are additional costs for training and making sure food is handled safely.

One day Barry comes to work and is rather upset even before he steps into the restaurant. Things haven’t been going well at home and he was lucky to rummage through some of the dirty laundry and find a relatively clean outfit to wear for work. He admits he needs a haircut and a good hand scrubbing, especially after working on his car last evening. When he walks into the kitchen he notices several trays of uncooked meat sitting out in the kitchen area. It appears these have been sitting at room temperature for quite some time. Barry is frustrated and doesn’t know what to do. He feels like he is beating his head against a brick wall when it comes to getting employees to practice food safety.

Barry has taken many efforts to get employees to be safe in how they handle food. He has huge signs posted all over the kitchen with these words: KEEP HOT FOOD HOT AND COLD FOOD COLD and WASH YOUR HANDS ALWAYS AND OFTEN. All employees are given a thermometer when they start so that they can temp food. Hand sinks, soap, and paper towels available for employees so that they are encouraged to wash their hands frequently.


Answer all the Questions, total carries 50 marks.

  1. What are the communication challenges and barriers Barry faces?
  1. What solutions might Barry consider in addressing each of these challenges and barriers?
  1. What Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) would be helpful for Barry to implement and enforce?
  1. What is some ways Barry might use effective communication as a motivator for employees to follow safe food handling practices?


The 1981 Air Traffic Controllers Strike


Union negotiators may find that the authority limits they are authorized to use in a labor negotiation by their union members (constituency) can be both to their advantage as well as their disadvantage. One tactical advantage in using their constituency authority can include the ability to manipulate public visibility to what is transpiring behind closed doors to gain sympathy. By bringing out the issues into the public forum, they may be able to manipulate public support for their plight.

Another advantage might be gained in the limiting of concessions by conducting the negotiation in front of their members or constituency. By doing so, the negotiators show that their authority has limitations, and that they have only so much latitude. A union negotiator might illustrate their solidarity with the union constituency by  displaying a  certain  degree  of  militancy in  union  demands  and  expectations. The disadvantage can occur when the labor representative exceeds their authority. They might find they are caught in a squeeze by agreeing to a tentative proposal behind closed doors. Afterwards, when the union member constituency votes against to ratify the proposed agreement, the union negotiator suddenly finds their credibility with their constituency to be under-minded by result. The rejection of a proposed agreement is not that dissimilar to a non-confidence vote. Union negotiators must sometimes walk a fine line and be careful not to exceed their authority. Sometimes, the militancy employed by the union negotiators takes on an extreme that causes harm not only to themselves but also to their constituency.

The Case:

In 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization union (PATCO) went on strike against the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States. Effectively, every aircraft controller governed by the federal agency had walked off the job. Previously, the union leader representative, Robert Poli had spent several months attempting to negotiate a new labor management contract with the FAA. A tentative agreement was reached that was then presented to the union members to vote on ratifying the proposal. The tentative contract was rejected by an overwhelming 90% percent of its members. Poli returned to the negotiating table to get a better package from the FAA.

Relations had deteriorated significantly between the two negotiating parties. The FAA now dug in its own heels and refused to offer any more concessions or improve the existing offer any further. After an additional two fruitless weeks of further talks between the two parties, Poli instructed PATCO to take strike action of its members against the FAA. Going on strike is normally fine in most circumstances, but here is where Poli exceeded his authority. The contract that had been signed previously with the FAA strictly prohibited a strike action, and deemed that any such strike action as illegal. So, what happened? The FAA and the administration under President Ronald Regan implemented the following steps against Poli, and PATCO’s members:

  1. All striking controllers were immediately fired from their jobs.
  1. A federal injunction against the strike was obtained, and both the union and its leaders were fined several millions of dollars per day for violations
  1. Poli and some of the other union executive leaders were thrown into prison
  1. The union’s financial accounts were impounded
  1. All striking controllers were banned from any further employment with the U.S. government in any capacity whatsoever. It was not until 1993 that President Clinton pardoned the controllers and declared that they could now be re-hired. This was 12 years after the fact!


Answer all the questions, total carries 50 marks.

  1. Did the union use “fair” or “ethical” negotiation tactics? Explain.
  2. Was the government’s response to the strike fair and appropriate? Explain.
  3. Who was at fault in this negotiation breakdown and why?
  4. What do you think could have been done better by the PATCO? By the Government? (Consider communication, distributive vs. integrative bargaining, tactics, ethics, conflict resolution, etc.)


Read Also: Communication & Negotiation Skills Case Study


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