Karen Hannen and the Division of Economic Analysis

Case Summary

Karen Hannen’s new role as manager of The Division of Economic Analysis, part of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCED), was to strengthen the economic analysis shop after years of poor management and neglect, and to promote a new proactive approach to diversifying the economic base of the state.   In her first year as a manager, Karen faced several issues stemming from the division’s poor performance and its related professional disaffection.   After over just one year as a manager Karen decided it was time to address the lingering work performance problems in the department.   In order to properly determine how to push this new direction, Karen recognized that a thorough assessment of Robert Welch, the division’s senior economist, was necessary.   Welch’s work, along with others in the division, was having a detrimental effect on the division by consistently providing under-researched, poorly analyzed, and badly presented work.   This reflected poorly on Karen and her attempts to turn around the division.

Key Issues for Karen Hannen to Consider

    • Staff: Karen discovered that out of 30 staff members, only half were matched to the demands of the office and possessed the technical, political, and outreach skills necessary for success.   The make-up of other half was not so easy to characterize because some employees had the technical or political skills to be successful but needed to improve other aspects of their performance in order for the new direction of the office. Karen needed to figure out how to handle these employees to motivate and task them properly in her attempt to turn the division in the right direction.
    • Images and Impressions: Karen’s predecessor, Bernie Mann, did not do an exemplary job of gauging the DCED employee’s satisfaction level with regard to either their work responsibilities or their professional satisfaction.   His employee reviews failed to provide both the employee and the division with a...