Assignment: Case Study
Word limit: 2000 Words
RENEW YOURSELF BEAUTY CLINIC
Renew Yourself Beauty Clinic is a private plastic surgery clinic in a small rural Australian town. It generally has around 80 patients sleeping there per night who are of a wealthy demographic and expect high quality service, care and food. The clinic provides meal services for both the patients and staff 24 hours a day. The kitchen employs 23 kitchen workers, cleaners and part time helpers, in addition to a food services manager and a kitchen supervisor.
For 10 years the food services manager was Brian Jackson, a quiet easy going man who spent a lot of his time planning menus and work schedules and attending to the administrative details of the kitchen and cafeteria. He was well liked by the kitchen staff, all women, who thought he was ‘wonderful’. Contributing to this was the family-like work atmosphere Brian had created, in which everyone willingly worked hard and long hours. The employees received personal satisfaction from their jobs and formed close social ties with their fellow employees. Best of all, the food for both patients and staff was of a high quality within budget. All of this was noted and formally praised by the
Director of the Clinic – Alison Drum.
Supporting Brian was his assistant – Ms. Christina Green who supervised the actual operation of the kitchen. Christina had worked in the kitchen for 8 years before becoming the kitchen supervisor two years ago. She had a pleasant relationship with the staff and often helped them with their work.
The apparent harmony of the kitchen was threatened late last year when sadly Brian died from a sudden illness. Christina decided she did not want to continue working without Brian and she surprised Mrs. Drum by resigning.
Mrs Drum had intended to ask Christina to become the new manager to replace Brian because she was the only staff member who she felt could effectively handle the position. Mrs Drum felt it would be impossible to quickly find a suitable replacement. However, Mrs Drum’s problem seemed to be solved when Bruce Gillespie arrived.
Bruce had recently moved to the town after finishing a successful 20 year career in the Australian Army. His initial assignment in the Army had been as a cook’s helper. Several promotions over the years lead to him being in charge of his Battalion’s canteen and finally Canteen Sergeant for five years for his Regiment. Bruce was 52 years old when he retired from the army and was looking for a civilian job. He hoped to use his experience in kitchen to start his own business, planning eventually to own and manage a catering firm. He had heard of the Renew Yourself Beauty Clinic’s unfortunate situation and sought an interview for the position. A few days later, Bruce was hired as the clinic’s new Food Services Manager.
During his first week at the clinic Bruce was upset by what he perceived as a lack of order in the kitchen. Although Mrs Drum had warned him that the work atmosphere would probably be much different than what he was used to in the Army, Bruce was quite sure that the situation had worsened after Brian passed away and Christina resigned. He discovered that although the employees seemed concerned about their work in the kitchen, their friendships and coffee breaks appeared to be of much greater importance. Bruce decided that a more efficient work environment was needed rather than this “family atmosphere” he had inherited, as well firmer regulations on budget spending and introducing some cost reduction programs.
Bruce immediately introduced stricter rules and order amongst the kitchen staff. He introduced a time clock to record the employees starting and finishing times. At the same time, he decided to pay overtime only if it was more than one hour a day and not to pay unless he had authorised it in advance. As he was not always available, and most overtime was less than an hour a day, the staff found that they were seldom paid for extra time. He also examined all kitchen work using high efficiency processes to increase productivity and reduce wasteful motion. This included introducing assembly lines in the kitchen where a staff member would focus only on one or two tasks (such as only
washing dishes, or only cooking the meat part of a meal) and repeat it throughout the day, rather than working on completing a whole meal or doing various tasks throughout the kitchen.
Such control was viewed by Brian as being unnecessary and unfair. Under Brian’s management before he died, the kitchen ran smoothly without strict rules and where everyone worked on various tasks. Employees had also been allowed to take their breaks and eat lunch at a large table in the corner of the work area in the kitchen. This helped create a participative and enjoyable work atmosphere where staff could interact and socialise while others continued working but did not feel left out of the group.
Bruce, however, has a completely different view compared to the late Brian. He felt that efficiency could be improved if a sharper distinction were drawn between those times when the employees were supposed to be working and those times when they were not. His perspective was that staff were there to work, not socialise or get along. Their job was to run the kitchen and produce food at a good standard with regulations in place to ensure health and safety. He
therefore removed the table and instituted a rule that nothing, other than water, could be eaten or consumed in the work area. This meant, the staff, which only consisted of females, were forced to go upstairs to use the ‘ladies lounge’ whenever they wanted to eat, take a break, or even drink a cup of tea. This ‘lounge’ was in corner of the toilet block and consisted of simply two straight-back wooden chairs.
The workers were outraged. This took away the only decent place for them to eat lunch and take their breaks. Before, staff had been able to sit down and have a break, but still check on any food cooking, now they either did not take a break, or left others with added tasks to do. They now had to rest in the toilet area.
Using his experience from the army, Bruce decided that it would be a good idea to plan the menus monthly and make meals be the same on certain days of the week (e.g. Lasagne always on Monday lunch times) to reduce the variety of ingredients bought. He also chose meals that could be prepared and frozen in advance, and reduced the amount of spices and condiments used to flavour the food. Bruce knew that this military’s system had been proven to be highly effective for organising work schedules and ensuring that the storeroom had the items on hand for each day’s meals. He would not allow for variation in the menus and made no attempt to understand the occasional need to change
when employees were absent. When someone was ill or on holiday, there was often just one worker to prepare a portion of the meal. If the women complained about the situation, Bruce just laughed and talked about his days in the Army and how easily his workers adjusted then. He told the staff just to get on with their job.
Finding that the administrative details of the cafeteria did not give him ample time to thoroughly supervise the kitchen and cleaning staff, Bruce recruited a replacement for Christina as kitchen supervisor – Lesley McCardle. Giving Lesley complete control over the kitchen staff, Bruce began spending most of his working hours alone in his office, but he often ate lunch and talked with the cleaners. Some of these discussions led Bruce to believe that there were serious inequalities between the work requirements for the kitchen employees and those for the cleaners. Accordingly, he rewrote some of the formal job descriptions and shifted a few of the cleaner’s responsibilities to the
kitchen staff. This included the cleaning jobs of mopping floors and emptying rubbish. This caused much resentment across the kitchen staff as this had never been part of their job and added even more pressure on them to get all their tasks completed within their rostered shift.
Lesley, the new kitchen supervisor, was a recent hospitality graduate who was anxious to try out her training. She was cautious, though when it came to exercising her “academic expertise” and tended to lack confidence in making decisions. She often asked for suggestions and consulted with the employees in order to learn about the details of their jobs. This led some of the staff to decide she was incompetent. They therefore would go to one of the most experienced kitchen staff – Ms Tara O’Neill, when they wanted advice or background information on various kitchen matters. Seeing this, Lesley sensed that her position of authority was threatened and began making efforts to be more assertive. One such effort involved Lesley giving a letter of reprimand to Tara, stating that she had failed to follow prescribed communication channels and had been otherwise insubordinate in assigning salad makers to cooking duties twice in as many weeks. Furthermore, Lesley threatened to write a formal letter to the Director the next time her authority was not respected.
Tara was confused, hurt and angered. The following day, she requested a meeting with Bruce and asked Mrs James, her union representative, to accompany her. Mrs James, who also worked in the kitchen, was almost as emotionally upset as Tara. During the meeting, Bruce felt that it was best to support Lesley’s actions. He tried to soothe Tara each time she asked a question, without actually saying that either woman had been wrong in the situation. Tara still felt that Lesley had falsely accused her, but after her side of the story was so poorly received in the meeting, she decided not to take her grievance further.
In the days following the meeting, Bruce began noticing a change in the kitchen. The staff were all doing their jobs but in a very formal manner. They arrived at the set time, took their breaks at the set time, whether convenient or not, and left at the set time whether the work was completed or not. They stopped talking to each other and sick leave began to increase. Some of the staff also had decided not to help each other during very busy periods. This often resulted in one item of food was not ready in time. Such delays in food, as well as the changed menu and ingredients led to complaints by patients and other staff members who noticed the food, although of decent quality, was not of the high standard it was previously and tasted bland, sometimes even served cold.
Noticing the obvious dissatisfaction amongst the kitchen staff, other staff, and patients, Bruce soon realised that he would soon face major problems and potential resignations. He began to question his own supervisory methods. For this reason he visited Mrs Drum and asked her to informally review his handling of the Tara O’Neill complaint. He also told Mrs Drum about the seemingly disorganised operation of the kitchen as he had initially encountered it and about the changes he had made.
Mrs Drum decided that the clinic needed to sort out the situation in the cafeteria and kitchen promptly before the standard of service to patients and staff declined. She seeks advice from you. Please provide a detailed analysis of the situation to date, followed by recommendations for future action to ensure that the kitchen continues to operate effectively and efficiently.Order Now