Mina O’Reilly is an officer at Logan Airport's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Boston. She is faced with the problem of what kind of disciplinary action she will take against Transportation Security Officer (TSO) Ludo Sanchez who committed a security breach infraction. The said infraction caused terminal closure for around 45 minutes and travel delays and was a potential threat to safety. While such infraction demands that the person liable be sanctioned, O'Reilly takes into consideration the fact that Sanchez is a passionate and valued employee who has been with TSA since its formation.
Michel Anteby; Erin McFee
Harvard Business Review (409116-PDF-ENG)
June 19, 2009
Case questions answered:
- What are the options available for Mina O’Reilly to take with regards to Transportation Security Officer (TSO) Ludo Sanchez’s security breach infraction?
- What are the pros and cons of each option? What is the most effective of these three options?
- How should Mina O'Reilly go about handling disciplinary action for Ludo Sanchez?
- First, should Sánchez be fired, or just warned, or should some additional action appropriate to the gravity of his role in Sunday’s breach?
- Second, on the basis of your previous decision, consider: a.) If Sánchez is fired, consider at least three options/recommendations that O’Reilly could make to her supervisor to minimize the chance of such a specific kind of breach, and select one; b.) If Sánchez is just warned, consider at least three options O’Reilly has to minimize the chance of such a specific kind of breach under her supervision and select one; c.) If O’Reilly opts for either reassigning to a lower security-level position, development of a performance improvement plan for Sánchez and his supervisor, or counseling and retraining, make an argument for each action and then select the one that seems to yield the most benefit to Sánchez, O’Reilly, and Logan’s TSA.
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Mina O'Reilly at Logan Airport's TSA Case Answers
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Mina O’Reilly at Logan Airport’s TSA Case Study
The issue that Mina O’Reilly is facing is what kind of disciplinary action she will take with regards to transportation security officer (TSO) Ludo Sanchez’s security breach infraction. There are three different alternatives that O’Reilly can choose from to handle Sanchez’s mishap in the best way possible.
The first option would be to fire Sanchez. The second would be to let him off with a warning and allowing him to maintain his current position. The third would be to either demote Sanchez, develop a performance improvement plan, or enroll him in counseling and retraining.
The criteria that will be examined when considering these different plans of action are the effect the decision will have on O’Reilly’s reputation, the public perception of Logan Airport, and the effectiveness in preventing future security breaches.
First Option – Fire Sanchez
The first alternative that Mina O’Reilly could choose would be to fire Sanchez because of his lack of awareness on the job and, along with that, implement a no cellphone policy, add breaks between shift switches, or grant bonuses to employees who get recognized for good work. The policy to go along with Sanchez’s firing that would be the best for the airport moving forward would be to employ a no cellphone policy.
An advantage of this combination is that Sanchez’s firing will show the public that O’Reilly and Logan Airport’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) consider security a top priority.
A second benefit is that an example will be made out of Sanchez for further employees that attentiveness and alertness are imperative to maintaining security and their jobs.
Lastly, by implementing a no-phone policy, it will prevent any future distractions of this kind that could allow future security breaches to occur. This would cut off the problem at the source and demonstrate high effectiveness, making upper-level management happy in the process.
However, there are drawbacks to this alternative as the Logan Airport’s TSA will be losing a valuable employee asset who has been with the airport since the World Trade Center attacks.
Additionally, it may be hard to find any qualified employees with similar intrinsic motivation to that of Sanchez’s. A third disadvantage is that other employees may see this punishment as too harsh considering Sanchez’s history with the airport, having been a model employee for so long.
Second Option – Give Sanchez a Warning
The second alternative for Mina O’Reilly to consider would be to allow Sanchez to maintain his current position as TSO and give him a warning. This warning would be accompanied by either a limit on the amount of overtime, more employee evaluations or having employees work with partners.
The policy that would best complement Sanchez’s warning would be to go forward with the employee partnerships. An advantage of this alternative would be that the warning will make Sanchez more aware of his actions moving forward and will decrease the likelihood that he makes another mistake.
Also, with a partner system, there will always be two sets of trained eyes completing tasks together and delegating responsibilities to increase effectiveness and prevent future breaches.
Lastly, by keeping Sanchez in his current position, the positive effects his attitude and personality had on travelers will continue, and the quality of their experiences and safety at Logan will remain the same.
However, there are also some disadvantages to this solution. The first is that the warning may show leniency on O’Reilly’s end, prompting other employees to slack off and still maintain their job.
Also, the implementation of partnerships may lead to less effective work from the employees. The agents may begin to rely on their partners too much, and their shared responsibility could lead to a worse performance from both employees.
A third drawback is that giving Sanchez a warning may show the public that safety and security is not a priority of the airport and not handled with extra care.
Third Option – Demote Sanchez
The third alternative that Mina O’Reilly could consider would be to demote Sanchez, develop a performance improvement plan, or place Sanchez in counseling and retraining. In terms of demoting Sanchez, this would allow him to keep his job considering he is a valuable employee. It will help him regain the trust of his supervisors before being promoted to his former position.
The performance improvement plan could be useful as it will hold each employee more accountable for their actions and responsibilities. If Sanchez were to be counseled and retrained, there would be an increase in his performance. Also, it will remind him of his obligation to safety that led him to apply for a TSA position in the first place.
What is the most effective of these three options?
The most effective option of the three options moving forward would be to…
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