NoWHERE Job Jack Ernest works for a young and growing healthcare company.


Jack Ernest works for a young and growing healthcare company. The company has suc- cessfully developed a market niche by contracting with colleges and universities to manage and operate their campus health centers. Ernest has been hired to develop the operational structure for a new product that will link students’ managed care health insurance coverage to services provided by their campus health centers. This new product will result in cost savings as well as improved service delivery. It is a new concept in the industry and while Ernest does not have significant healthcare experience, he does have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, and he is expected to learn on the job.

Ernest has not been given a formal job description. He was originally given a list of performance objectives verbally, but these objectives have been subsequently changed without his input, and there have been no new objectives put in place. Ernest’s work envi- ronment is unusual in that he mostly works out of a home office, with occasional trips to the corporate office 70 miles away. Ernest reports directly to the corporate medical director of the company, but this director is located in Miami, 1,200 miles away. Communication with his boss occurs almost exclusively by e-mail, telephone, or fax.

Ernest has made progress toward achieving organizational objectives, but he is now facing obstacles that are largely caused by his isolation from others in the company. He is not informed when changes are made to project objectives, nor are the underlying reasons for these changes ever explained to him. Ernest finds that his isolation limits his ability to grow professionally, and he has trouble contributing to the work of the company because he is unable to describe his company’s needs accurately to outside vendors without being properly informed himself.

Ernest has asked to have a formal job description and stated performance objectives based on the format suggested by a human resources consultant hired by the company, but he has received no response. Meanwhile, Ernest has been asked to complete the contracts he has negotiated with several outside vendors, and he is told he now reports to an outside consultant who has been hired to help coordinate technical operations, including informa- tion systems. This outside consultant tells Ernest not to proceed with these contracts the very day after the CEO tells him to complete them.

Ernest attempts to contribute to the sales and marketing efforts of his company by proposing that the company sponsor an institute at a prestigious university, and he wants to contribute his time and energy to make this project a success. He is told it is a good idea, but the vice president of sales and marketing does not keep his commitment to respond to Ernest’s proposal. Ernest sends reminders and continues to develop the idea with the university. He is trying to expand his job responsibilities to include business development, but he knows he needs the support of others in his organization to make a meaningful contribution.

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