The Goal Setting Meeting Role Play
STEP 1: Get into groups of three. One of you will play the role of Pat, another will play the role
of Chris, and the third will be an observer.
Six months ago, Pat was promoted to the position of “Director of Planning” for a
municipality located in Regina, Saskatchewan. Since Pat’s first day on the job, Pat had serious
problems with his executive secretary, Mary. Pat fired Mary last week.
Pat hired Chris to replace Mary. Chris was hired not because of his/her experience, but
because Chris was bright, had a college degree in English, and came with great references.
Because of Pat’s experience with Mary, who had been a secretary for many years, Pat wanted
to hire someone with limited experience who Pat could mould in a custom way. In this way, Pat
must ensure that Chris knows what is required for success in the position, understands the
basis upon which Chris will be evaluated in the future, and gain Chris’ commitment.
Pat believes that the following are the skill dimensions required for an executive secretary:
1. Clerical skills and competence
3. Interpersonal skill and competence (with both co-workers and the public)
4. Works steadily
5. Maintains a clean work area
6. Ability to handle stress and pressure (from co-workers, and the public)
7. Well-organized leadership (the executive secretary is responsible for the supervision of
all clerical personnel in the planning department
STEP 2: To get a better understanding of Pat and the problems Pat faced with Mary, review the
excerpts from her personnel file listed below. It was Mary’s behavior that caused Pat to seek
1. During May, June and July, she came to work late 19 times despite repeated warnings.
2. Mary was frequently unable to tell others where Pat was, even after Pat told her about
3. When assigned work by Pat, she rarely, if ever, delegated any of this work to other
secretaries who reported to her for work assignments
4. On at least three occasions, Mary did not call in to inform Pat that she was ill. Pat had to
call her to find out.
5. She frequently made personal telephone calls on office time
6. Mary was often criticized for taking extended coffee breaks in the cafeteria. When this
occurred, Mary was usually talking with John Busybody
7. The inventory under Mary’s control was frequently out of stock (e.g., toner for the
copier, 11-inch by 14-inch envelopes, pens, etc.). Mary’s solution was to borrow what she
needed from another department.
8. When giving typing or reports for Mary to complete, Pat frequently had to return the
work for her corrections. A typical error: When asked to make 25 copies of a single sheet
and one copy of a 50 page report, Mary made one copy of the single sheet and 25 copies
of the 50 page report.
9. When Pat returned work for corrections, Mary complained about working conditions in
the department and the excessive pressure Pat placed on her. No one else in the
department made similar complaints.
10. When attending meetings in Pat’s place, Mary was often late or unprepared. She had
not reviewed the agenda or support material. Mary also found it difficult to explain to
Pat what major decision had been made at these meetings.
11. Pat often received complaints about the abusive language and behavior Mary
demonstrated when interacting with co-workers and employees outside the planning
12. Before Mary was hired, Pat was unable to find whatever he wanted in the departmental
files. Within two months of hiring Mary, he had difficulty finding anything.
13. During slack periods, Mary would manicure her nails or read a book rather than take the
initiative to start a new project or help a fellow employee
14. On several sessions, Mary was overheard criticizing the planning department, Pat, and
This list does not represent a complete documentation of the problems Pat had with Mary.
Therefore, when attempting to understand what is important to Pat, you should make any
additional assumptions you believe are consistent with the material provided in step 1 and that
represent how an executive secretary should act.
STEP 3: Each group of 3 is responsible for developing a script for the forthcoming meeting.
Please follow the steps outlined below.
1. Select your roles
2. The group should decide on the appropriate goals and standards for each job dimension
listed above (under step 1). What specific behaviors would you like to see in the new
executive secretary so that Chris will be given a high rating for each? Make them
3. Work as a group to develop a script for the meeting between Pat and Chris. In preparing
your script, pay particular attention to the learning point (distributed by Amanda) on
what do to during a goal-setting meeting. All steps should be incorporated into your
4. Once the script is developed, practice the planned meeting in your group. Switch roles
so that each person has an opportunity to play Chris, Pat and the observer role.