Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2014 Contents AUGUST 17 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | SBG15
The following guide is intended to aid readers
in analysing the case Little Feet Vacation Camp.
When analysing a case, remember that there
are many possible approaches and solutions
and the goal is to develop your analytical and
problem-solving skills rather than figure out
"the one right answer".
SynopsisMichael Hernandez has
recently been appointed
as programme director
at the Little Feet Vaca-
tion Camp and the
owner expects him to
develop a strategy to improve staff morale.
The atmosphere at the camp has deteriorated
in recent years which is negatively impacting
the experience of the children attending the
camp. This has led to complaints by parents
and Michael has to put together an action
plan to turn things around and ensure the sat-
isfaction of all the key stakeholders.
Q1. What are the primary factors that
have led to the current situation at the
There are a number of interrelated factors
that account for the poor morale at the camp.
The experience of the campers is a direct
reflection of the mood of the staff, so unhappy
employees make for unhappy children and
One of the main issues is the high staff
turnover which requires that many new
employees be recruited each year. In such a
system there is a lack of continuity and insti-
tutional knowledge building. This also makes
it difficult to build an organisational culture
around a core group of employees which can
informally establish social norms and guide
employee behaviour. The recruitment process
seems disorganised and appears not to be
attracting employees who are interested in
long-term employment at the camp.
The relatively low salaries that are paid to
employees may not be competitive with alter-
native job offers which lowers the incentive
for staff to return to work at Little Feet in
subsequent years. The disparity in pay between
the specialists and full-time staff members is
certainly something that would have been
noted and is possibly another source of dis-
The training that staff receive appears inad-
equate and does little to build team spirit. This
is a major shortcoming since poorly trained
staff are more likely to commit errors when
carrying out their duties and become frustrated
when asked questions to which they do not
have the answers. This will be reflected in a
poor attitude towards their jobs.
Finally, there is no evidence of strong lines
of communication among employees and
between the programme director and other
levels of staff. the This lack of communication
can create the impression that staff concerns
are not being addressed.
Employees may also feel that they have no
recourse when complaints from parents are
relayed to them since such communication
seems to be unidirectional at the moment.
Better communication between all the stake-
holders could also nip potential problems in
the bud and ensure that parents continue to
spread positive word of mouth about the camp.
Q2. What power does Michael Hernandez
have in his new role as programme direc-
Michael has several different levels of power
and influence in his capacity as programme
director. As indicated in the case, as a long-
term employee Michael is well liked by all the
key stakeholders. He also enjoys the confidence
of the camp s owner who has promoted him
with the expectation that he would be able to
turn things around. This provides Michael
with referent power over the rest of the staff
which he can use to appeal to them on a per-
sonal level as he implements necessary changes.
The other employees also respect his knowl-
edge and insight which will give him credibility
when outlining proposals for improving the
camper s experience. His experience as a trust-
ed senior member of staff therefore means
that he holds expert power.
Finally, Michael plays a key role in evaluating
staff at the end of each year and approving
the payment of bonuses. He is also directly
involved in the hiring process for all new
This reward power is one that is probably
well recognised and understood by staff. The
non-profit structure of the organisation and
the small sums of money that are involved
however, means that this power is somewhat
limited and may be greatest for those employ-
ees who wish to continue working at the camp
for another year.
Q3. What actions should Michael take
to initiate positive change at the camp?
Priority must be given to making adjust-
ments to staff recruitment, training and com-
pensation in order to improve the atmosphere
at the camp.
Michael should begin by holding consulta-
tions with the owner and all employees to get
their input on what changes might be needed.
This will allow employees who may be dis-
gruntled to vent and thereby clear the way
for a more meaningful dialogue to commence.
It will also set the tone for future communi-
cation and increase staff commitment to any
changes that Michael wishes to propose.
The recruitment procedure needs to be
changed so that qualified applicants are not
lost due to hiring delays. It is inefficient to
have the programme director conduct all the
checks and this task should be delegated to
members of the selection committee with final
approval being reserved for the programme
director. The criteria for selection also needs
to be expanded to ensure that stronger can-
didates who provide a better fit with the camp
culture are selected.
Changes also need to be made to the training
programme to make it more dynamic and a
source of team building. New facilitators may
need to be hired and the agenda revised to
ensure that the content is relevant and updat-
ed. Michael may wish to consider facilitating
a few sessions to signal his commitment to
the process and underscore the importance
of the training. Senior employees can be
assigned to mentor the newly hired staff to
ensure that they understand the culture at the
camp and the way in which they should inter-
act with the campers. A training manual should
be developed which could serve as a reference
for all staff and information about camp poli-
cies should be prominently displayed so that
both staff and campers understand the rules
that govern their interaction.
While the non-profit aspect of the camp is
a restraint on the salaries that can be paid, a
more robust reward system of bonuses and
gifts can be used to establish the type of behav-
iour that is desired among employees. As an
example, a weekly prize could be given to
those employees who contributed the most
to lifting the camp spirit.
Employees who provide suitable referrals
should also receive some form of compensation
to encourage them in their recruitment efforts.
Such actions will go a long way towards
enhancing the quality of candidates who are
hired to work at the camp each year. Serious
consideration should also be given to raising
the bonus for those employees who are rehired,
since in the long run it would be cheaper to
retain good staff than recruit and train new
Case preparation guide: Little Feet Vacation Camp
needed DR BARNEY
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