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Krista Acklen was the golden girl of metropolitan government in a large Midwestern city. The top graduate of a local high school, she studied in France and interned at Vogue in Paris before returning to the States to get an MBA, and she landed a position with a top New York PR firm. She knew everyone, and chatting with or doing lunch with the rich and famous was a normal day for Acklen.

The only child of a single mom, Acklen dropped it all and willingly returned to her Midwestern hometown when her mothers health declined suddenly. She had barely settled in and established home care for her mother when the mayors office contacted her with a job proposal. Would Acklen consider a position developing and directing a public arts program for the city? She enthusiastically accepted the job. With her winning connections, drive, and abilities, she quickly expanded her mission to develop a range of arts programs. Donations and grant money poured into programs under her established nonprofit organization developed to support city parks. Headquarters for Acklen and her staff was a comfortable unused third-floor space in the city library that used to hold books and magazines that were now stored digitally.

Then John Mitchell, director of parks and recreation, summoned her to a meeting to learn of a decision I have made that will affect your group. Acklen was curious to find out what was going on. Knowing that budget factors recently forced reduction in staff and office space throughout city government, and aware of the importance of dealing carefully with public opinion, as well as the feelings of employees and other stakeholders, Acklen felt that she was prepared for any decision Mitchell might have reached.

She tried to get comfortable in the chair across from Mitchell, who seemed ill at ease. Avoiding small talk, Mitchell said that he intentionally did not discuss the decision in advance because he believed Acklen would object. He would not accept her objections anyway, he indicated, so the decision was final.

What is the decision? asked Acklen.

The mayor wants half of your groups office space for the Greenways project, Mitchell replied, and I see no alternative except for you to agree. The mayors idea makes sense, and you must go along.

Acklen felt fury rising in her chest as she stared at Mitchell while thinking, This people-pleasing, brown-nosing jerk. He will do anything to win the mayors favor.

The Greenways project, directed by Lisa Todd, had developed a number of beautiful areas throughout the city. In recent years, Greenways had received the bulk of new money and attention from the federal government, and Todds staff had grown with the additional funding and development projects.

As Acklen regained her composure, she shot back at Mitchell, Not consulting me on this is unacceptable. I should be part of any decision affecting my staff and program. I could have helped plan a solution that worked for everyone. Mitchell started to speak, but Acklen cut him off. You have a responsibility to my group as well as to the mayor. I think you are giving us the shaft as an easy way to please her.

The two argued a while longer, but Mitchell wouldnt budge. Finally, Acklen said, John, since this was your decision, you should be the one to tell my people. You better come over soon before the word gets out.

No, Mitchell said, you are their immediate boss. You have to tell them. Thats your job. Where is your team spirit, anyway?

Acklen returned to her office, seething, and vented about the problem to Joanne Franklin, her most senior employee. Oh no, Joanne moaned. We really need all this space. Our program is growing, too.

Acklen agreed, but she explained Mitchells support of the suggestion from the mayors office to make additional office space available to Lisa Todd and her staff. Joanne started brainstorming. I suppose we could pair up in the offices.

Acklen shook her head. We are team players. But John Mitchell and the mayor need to know that this was not handled in a way that shows respect for our employees. After a pause, she continued, Im too frazzled to think about it anymore today. Lets talk about this tomorrow.

1. What mistakes do you think John Mitchell made with the way he solved the problem of limited office space? Explain.

2. What approach would have you used if you were Mitchell? Why?

3. What were Krista Acklens options for responding to Mitchells decision? What should she do now? Why?

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