At first David wondered if he had made the right move. He seemed to be office bound most of the time and dealing with a range of unfamiliar and often boring issues.

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David Hughes has worked for a television company for 12 years. He was delighted to get his chance to work in the industry after getting a good degree in Media Studies.

He gradually worked his way up to being a producer and won awards for two of his documentary programmes. He had not minded working long hours and undertaking a considerable amount of travel when filming on location. His creative flair and success brought him to the attention of senior managers.

After 12 years, a Head of Department suddenly had to leave because of health problems. It was felt necessary to fill his job quickly and David was approached by the Head of Programmes with a view to applying for the vacancy. Shortly afterwards David was appointed as Head of Department with a number of producers reporting to him. David did agonise before taking the new job but the financial and related benefits were considerable and he was told that it would be alright for him to still to retain some involvement in production.

At first David wondered if he had made the right move. He seemed to be office bound most of the time and dealing with a range of unfamiliar and often boring issues. He also worried about being stereotyped as a ‘suit’. Even though his hours were reduced because of greatly reduced travel, his stress levels had increased whilst his motivation had decreased. David missed the ‘camaraderie’, excitement and social interaction involved in filming, especially on location. He also missed the opportunity to be truly creative.

David increasingly came to the view that everybody would be better off if he freed himself up to do some production work, as he had been told he could do when he was promoted. This would keep him abreast of developments, get him out of the office and cheer him up. He made out a case for an assistant and this was accepted by the Head of Programmes. David encouraged his former Production Assistant, Patricia Allen, who was particularly competent; to apply for the job and to his delight she was successful in her application. David found that he was able to delegate an increasing amount of work to Patricia. He was particularly glad to be able to give her the financial work to do, including monitoring and preparing budgets. It was particularly useful for Patricia to handle his e-mail, other post and manage his diary. As time went on the delegated more and more work to her, including planning future productions, attending meetings, dealing with queries by producers, staff selection, report writing, approving expense claims and ordering equipment. Because of her production background she was also often able to resolve technical queries raised by producers. There were some things he could not delegate to her such as staff appraisal, which did not seem very important anyway, and the Head of Programmes insisted that he did attend some meetings himself. Occasionally producers came to him complaining about the behaviour of some of their staff but he found that usually if he simply listened and did not do anything the problems would seem to disappear. He felt vindicated by his approach of ‘least said soonest mended’.

As time went on David found that his plan worked and he was able to get more involved in production. He did have hopes of obtaining another award for a documentary film but since his promotion he had not been nominated for any further awards. Secretly David was not surprised by this because he felt he had not been able to put enough effort into the productions he had been involved in to ensure sufficient quality. He also worried if he was going through a mid-life crisis and that his creativity was drying up.

Although David was now much happier in his work he began to realise that, after a while, his relationship with Patricia Allen had cooled somewhat. This did concern him, particularly as he depended on her so much. Clearly her responsibility level had increased greatly.  Although she had had a significant pay rise when she was appointed to her position as his assistant, he began to wonder if she merited a further pay rise. After some thought he decided that the reality of the situation was that he should approach the Human Resources Department with a view to having her job re- evaluated and her designation changed to Deputy Head of Department.


1a. Identify any key problems you see in this case.

1b  Identify what you believe may be the cause/s of these problems.

2. What would you recommend be done about the problems you have identified? Differentiate between those requiring short term solutions and those requiring longer term solutions.

3. Which activities required David’s personal attention in your opinion?

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