Barbara Norris: Leading Change In General Surgery Unit Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Relevant Facts

The major facts of the case that focus on organizational behavior are as follows:

            Since Barbara Norris has taken over the managerial role at Eastern Massachusetts University Hospital (EMU), the different issues have actually come up which have made the department go down in terms of performance. The case indicates that the overall departmental performance has been on a decline because of the increasing turnover, low morale and poor communication amongst the nurses.

            On part of the management, Barbara Norris who has been appointed recently as the manager of the unit is not only concerned with the current situation, she is also wondering how she can actually overcome the issues and makes the department work along the lines of being a rather positive and profit oriented unit.


            The dynamics of the situation of the presented case indicate that the GSU has been facing issues related to organizational behavior. The context indicates that the nurses and the management were facing different issues. The culture has also been quite healthy and positive in the past, where the nurses interacted with each other regularly. The motivation was actually the most pivotal part at GSU in the past where each and every nurse was committed to support others. Things however, have changed where the sustainability among the nurses has reduced and become limited and the nurses have become more introverts.


            The major problems which are described in the case indicate that General Surgery Unit (GSU) has been the facing the short staffed; the employee morale has become low, stress levels amongst employees have increased quite drastically. The unit has been facing lowest employee satisfaction scores.

            Moreover, the turnover ratio at the department is also the highest as compared to other unites at Eastern Massachusetts University Hospital (EMU). Along with this, GSU has been facing the issue of increased patient satisfaction scores have been reduced at an alarming rate. The connection between the nursing staff wit fellow colleagues has been quite cold and reserve, where no one is actually ready to help another employee. The unit has been renowned for its culture where the element of favorism has been quite evident and the nurses feel deprived off being motivated by the management.

            In addition to this, another issue at GSU has been the problem of overtime which has been stopped by the management because of the cost cutting measures. This has made the matters worse because quite frequently the nurses are on sick leave or they need vacation for personal reasons, for which Barbara could not offer the other staff members an additional pay.

Proposed Solutions

            Based on the above presented issues, the possible solutions or the alternatives for the problem faced by the General Surgery Unit (GSU) are as follows: 

Hiring new staff:

            As the case states, the unit has been facing the issue of high turnover and low retention of employees. The unit has been under severe pressure where Barbara Norris is unable to find a replacement for the nurses that have left the unit. As the case states, she is restricted to hire new nurses; therefore the issue has actually risen at the General Surgery Unit (GSU).

            To overcome this issue, the most appropriate method shall be to hire more nurses. Although it might incur cost, but in the long run it shall reduce the increasing and excessive work load of the current nurses. As the case states, if a nurse was on off, Norris could not find a replacement because of the limited staff, therefore, the most obvious alternate where the nurses have been feeling excessive stress has led to high turnover. In such a situation, hiring new staff can be one of the most potential and feasible solutions.

Barbara Norris Leading Change In General Surgery Case Solution

Stronger Communication:

            As the case states, the relationship amongst the nursing staff been quite cold and reserved, where no one is actually ready to help another employee, to overcome this issue, the department should conduct regular meeting and interactive sessions amongst the nurses so that they shall come closer to another. Moreover, by strengthening the communication, it shall help in reducing the amount of blame game nurses have been into where they have been not supporting each other................

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