Case Study – Barry Automotive’s Glendale Plant : The Picnic Conversation

Barry Automotive’s Glendale Plant’s annual picnic was well attended, as usual. It was a well-planned, day-long family affair for all employees of the firm, giving them an opportunity to get together informally. At the picnic, Charlene Knox, one of the supervisors, had a long chat with her boss, Jim Cross, the general manager. They spoke about many things, including some work problems. Cross greatly emphasized the need to cut costs and generally tighten the company’s finances. He told Knox that he had already received a number of written suggestions and plans from some other supervisors. He highly praised their efforts as appropriate and helpful.

Three weeks after the picnic, Charlene Knox received a memo from her boss asking her report in reference to cost cutting had no yet arrived. At first, she wondered what Jim Cross was referring to, and then she remembered their talk at the picnic. She realized that was the only time Cross had discussed with her the need to cut costs. Knox pondered what her response should be.


  1. Is it appropriate for a supervisor to give a directive to a subordinate in a social, off-the-job setting? Why or why not?
  2. Was Charlene Knox at fault for failing to understand what her boss told her at the picnic? Was Jim Cross at fault? Were both managers at fault?

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