ASSIGNMENTS – Unit Four Case Analysis

Subject: Business / General Business

Unit Four Case Analysis

Read the section on page 279 titled “Putting Patient Needs or Employee Needs First?”. Prepare your composition to cover the following topics or questions with in the Body section of the paper described for this assignment:

1. What does Johnson say about the polarity two-step and about working on the polarity map?

2. What are the difficulties dealing with polarity?

3. How would you address Johnson’s questions of “Is the difficulty ongoing?” and “Are there two interdependent poles?”

Write a 5 page paper (1500 or more words) in APA format. Below is a recommended outline.

1. Cover page (See APA Sample paper)

2. Introduction

a. A thesis statement

b. Purpose of paper

c. Overview of paper

3. Body (Cite sources with in-text citations.)

4. Conclusion – Summary of main points

a. Lessons Learned and Recommendations

5. References – List the references you cited in the text of your paper according to APA format.

(Note: Do not include references that are not cited in the text of your paper)

page 279

Putting Patient Needs or Employee Needs First?

Mapping out this polarity enables you to see the whole picture or structure of the dilemma. To focus exclusively on patient needs may result in not meeting important employee needs, which may then result in lower morale and productivity, indirectly affecting how the respiratory therapists meet patient needs. The clearest opposites in the polarity map are the downside of one polarity and the upside of the other. Johnson (1996, p. 11) calls movement through the grid the “polarity two-step.” It starts in either lower quadrant and moves across and up, down, and then repeats.

The difficulty in dealing with polarities occurs because each party is convinced that it is right in its particular conviction and basically sees only its side. Having the group work through the polarity map helps create the whole picture. Instead of the parties’ disagreeing and contradicting each other’s view, the task becomes to supplement each other’s view in order to see the entire picture. Parties on both sides of the polarity have key pieces to the puzzle; they just need this simple structure to help identify and share them. The opposition that each side feels to the other actually becomes a key resource in dealing with the issue. No one is being challenged; instead, both parties assume the accuracy of each position. As a result, there is joint effort in combining two valid views of a situation in order to see a more complete picture.

Johnson (1996, p. 45) says that “in most organizations there are often very serious and costly confrontations that take place because a ‘both/and’ polarity is treated like an ‘either/or’ problem to solve.” In working out the polarity map together, the possibility of each participant seeing the other quadrants and more fully understanding the issue occurs because the process has not contradicted their own view of reality but confirmed it. “Successful management of polarities calls for intentional interventions that support both values (poles) simultaneously” (Wesorick, 2002, p. 24).

One of the difficult challenges is knowing when there is a polarity to manage instead of a problem to solve. Johnson (1996) offers two questions to use for help in deciding which you are facing: Is the difficulty ongoing? Are there two interdependent poles?

If a solution exists that is a definite end point in a process, the problem is solvable. An example is the decision about where to have the holiday party. Once the group makes the decision, it is done. This is an either-or problem: either we go here, or we go there. Once the group makes the decision, it is carried out. Problems of choice are solved the minute the choice is made. But solving polarities is a continual process. Instead of reaching an end point, there is a never-ending change of emphasis or focus from one pole to another. For example, emphasizing and rewarding individual performance is appropriate at some times, and focusing on the team effort is appropriate at other times.

The second question is whether there are two poles that are interdependent. “The solution in problems to solve can stand alone. Unlike a polarity to be managed, the solution to a problem to solve does not have the necessary opposite that is required for the solution to work over an extended period of time” (Johnson, 1996, p. 82). Polarities instead require both poles. The issue of manager accessibility to employees is an example. On the one hand, for the manager to be available to employees is an important aspect of the job, yet the manager also needs to have quiet, uninterrupted time in order to do the work that requires concentrated thinking time. If the manager is accessible at all times, it is likely that many aspects of the leadership role are getting short shrift. And no leader who is in his or her office with the door closed the entire workday is going to be perceived as effective by his or her staff.

Once the polarity map is complete, the question is: What do we need to do to stay in the upper two quadrants? In the respiratory therapist example, the question is: How can we meet both patient and employee needs? How do we know when to shift the focus from one pole to another? The group then has identified actions to support each side of the polarity and is more likely to recognize in the future when overemphasis on either pole has occurred.

A director of education was frustrated with the seemingly constant conflict and disagreement about whether educators should be decentralized in the departments or located in the centralized education department. She used the polarity map to work her group through the issue. They identified practical strategies to manage this polarity. In a preoperative division, the director used this process to work with his staff as they explored the polarity of specialized operating room teams or emphasizing generalization of skills of staff.

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