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Becton Landing is a thriving community miles northwest of St. Paul recently voted as one of the top 200 small
towns in the United States by a well-known travel and tourism publication. Located in Minnesota with a
population of nearly 17,000, Becton Landing is described by many as having active, engaged residents. Because
of its access to numerous trails, lakes, outdoor activities, golf courses and retail stores within a vital downtown
district as well as to a major shopping outlet 10 miles from the town, Becton Landing has become a popular
destination for retirees. It is also known for its Becton Landing Jubilee in early October, which brings more than
60,000 visitors to the town over a four-day period.
Figure 1: Community Data—Becton Landing
Population (2019): 16,447 (90% urban, 10% rural) | Population change since 2015: +0.8%
Male: 48.2% (7,445) | Female: 51.8% (8,002)
Median Age: 42.1 years (Minnesota: 37.7)
Median household income: $45,260 (Minnesota: $61,702)
National Origin
African American:
American Indian:
Unemployment rate: 4.5% (Minnesota: 4.6%)
Becton Fitness Plus is a nonprofit recreational facility that was established as the Becton Landing Recreation
Center in 1996 for the purpose of offering opportunities for the community’s youths to increase their level of
physical activity. At that time Mary Anderson, the founder and executive director, served as a physical
education teacher at Becton Landing High School. In her role as an educator, she became increasingly
frustrated with witnessing the majority of her students engaging in exercise only during PE classes. In the early
1990s video games and TV were considered as the primary cause for idleness and inactivity, which has only
magnified with other sedentary activities driven by technology, including the Internet and social media. Mary’s
passion for physical activity and a report at the time by the Winfree Health Foundation (see below) that listed
childhood obesity as one of the top-five health concerns for Winfree County inspired Mary to want to do more
than just teach gym classes to high school students. Although she felt she made a difference by teaching high
school, she believed physical activity must play a vital role outside of school as well.
Figure 2: Highlights of the 1993 Winfree Health Foundation Community Assessment—Childhood
Exercise & Nutrition
Physical Activity
About 1/5th of county students reported engaging in 60 minutes of physical activity every day:
• 17% of 5th graders
• 21% of 8th graders
• 22% of 9th graders
• 16% of 11th graders
46% of 5th graders, 57% of 8th and 11th graders, and 56% of 9th graders reported 10+ hours of screen time
per week.
Rates of overweight and obesity have multiplied in adults and children. Among children ages 2 to 5 enrolled
in the community health study, 14% had a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to the 95th percentile
for their age. For children ages 6 to 10, the percentage was 18%, and for children ages 11 to 15, the
percentage was 20% percent.
With her vision to create meaningful change within the Becton Landing community, Mary first approached the
district council with a proposal to build a recreation center at the site of an abandoned clothing factory, which
closed its doors due to economic conditions. Mary’s bid included offering after-school and summer
programming exclusively for the children (ages 8 to 19) of Becton Landing. Mary collected more than 500
signatures from parents and involved community members, which she presented to the council. Additionally,
Mary asked several of her current and former students to attend the city council meeting voicing their concern
for the limited areas for physical activity, particularly during the harsh winter months. (In Minnesota, outdoor
activity can be limited to 6 months.)
Mary’s influential presentation convinced the council to dedicate start-up funds, opening a section of the
clothing factory to offer group-facilitated fitness classes 5 days each week. Additional funding would have to
be approved by the council each year. The district’s agreement included a stipulation of various performance
metrics, including number of members, retention of members, and a series of community-based studies
focused on improved fitness levels and nutrition of the community’s youth in partnership with the Winfree
Health Foundation. Shortly after the initial funding was approved, three local businesses committed sizable
donations to create a basketball and tennis court, as well as to purchase exercise equipment. Parents could
purchase different levels of membership based on how often their children attended and the types of
activities they participated in at the center. The recreation center opened for business on June 11, 1993.
In September 1998, the owner of a local adult-centered gym (the only one in town) contacted the district
about purchasing the gym’s equipment because he was closing. The district agreed to buy and relocated the
equipment to the recreation center – requiring the center to expand the square footage from 2,500 to 6,000
square feet. After this purchase, the district, opened membership to adults, increasing membership from 250
children to 650 total members within the year. This increase coincided with an increase in the operating hours.
The district manager approached Mary about becoming the center’s full-time director. Mary was conflicted
with this offer given that she had dedicated nearly 20 years of her life to the Becton Landing School District.
However, she accepted the position because she felt she could create more of a lasting impact on the
community in this role.
The center now included a kids’ sports center, adult weight training and cardio room, an exercise room for
fitness classes, and an additional room for day care. Locker rooms were also installed shortly after the
expansion thanks largely in part to another community donation. To help fund their expansion costs, the district
leased four areas of the factory for retail space, including athletic apparel and nutritional supplement stores. A year
later, an indoor kid’s play area was installed next to the day care location, and the center was at maximum capacity.
In 2005, the recreation center received a grant to begin construction of a facility next to the existing location
that would house a hockey/skating rink and baseball fields. The baseball fields were named the Dussenne
Kralik Arena after Cyprien Dussenne and Andrew Kralik, two natives of Becton Landing who played in Major
League Baseball (MLB) from 1991 to 2003. It was Dussenne and Kralik who had the idea to build an arena in
their hometown to provide local opportunities for the youth of Becton Landing and the surrounding
communities. Dussenne’s and Kralik’s donation helped pay for almost half of the initial expenses, including the
rink and baseball fields and equipment for their teams. The rink is used throughout the year and serves as a
venue for many local and state hockey tournaments as well as for open skating sessions and group lessons.
Additionally, the fields were utilized by several youth and adult baseball teams.
In 2007, the recreation center began to expand its reach beyond Becton Landing, allowing residents from other
local communities to be members. This irritated some community members, but most realized it was necessary
given the increased labor and capital costs with the continued growth of the center. The membership fees for
non-residents of Becton Landing were 20% higher than for residents. That same year, the district initiated a
marketing study to strengthen the brand and perception of the center. Among the outcomes, the district
changed the official name of the center to Becton Fitness Plus. Unfortunately, a year later, the economic
recession hit the community of Becton Landing quite hard. Beyond just witnessing a decrease in membership,
many businesses were forced to close because of the financial environment. The district, already forced to lay off
5% of its staff, including some employees at the center, gave serious consideration to selling Becton Fitness Plus to
a for-profit fitness franchise based out of Minneapolis.
The district opted not to sell the center as tournament events were positively impacting the community’s
hospitality industry. Mary was recently awarded a humanitarian award by the state of Minnesota and traveled to
Minneapolis to accept the award. In her acceptance remarks, Mary commented that there is nothing that can
stop a community when its members are going in the same direction. Her remarks only strengthened her
position among the residents of Becton Landing. Now that the center is only a few years away from celebrating its
25-year anniversary, Mary can look back with pride on all of the accomplishments that have been made,
particularly during the difficult economic challenges. Mary is most proud to offer employment opportunities to
residents interested in the area of health and well-being. She feels many of the center’s exceptional employees
would have left the area if it were not for Becton Fitness Plus.
However, the growth Becton Fitness Plus has experienced during the past several years has come with its own set
of challenges, especially in the area of human resources, which Mary has realized. What began as a community
recreation center with 5 part-time employees in 1993 has now increased to 28 full-time employees and 43 parttime employees, although some questions about the classification of many employees are beginning to surface.
Currently, Becton Fitness Plus does not have a dedicated human resource person. Danna Shackelford serves as
the office coordinator and is responsible for several aspects of the operations. Among her growing list of
responsibilities includes human resources, but her background in the field is limited, and her role has not been
clearly defined. The growth, coupled by a lack of a strong HR presence to provide both structure and
consistency, has placed a pillar in the community at serious risk.
Figure 3 Organizational Chart
Executive Director
Mary Anderson
Director of Finance
and Membership
Services Tracey Curtis
Office Coordinator
Danna Shackelford
Director of
Operations Kevin
Property Manager
and Head of
Maintenance Bret
Head of Sport
Operations Mason
Camp and Special
Events Coordinator
Ashley Savage
League and
Coordinator Jim
Director of
Development Chelsie
Associate Director of
Programming Wayne
Coordinator Pete
Child Care
Coordinator Kassidy
Head of Field
Operations Jarrod
Figure 4: Performance Metrics (2010-2015)
Number of Members
Annual Increase in
Number of Children
(Youth Fit Camp)
Member Satisfaction
Annual Giving
Employee Conduct/HR Strategy
Because of increasing member demands and an expansion of services during the past several years, the hiring
practices within Becton Fitness Plus have been criticized by many internal and external stakeholders (including
hiring managers and job applicants). Findings from a recent employee survey referenced the terms “shortsighted” and “careless” when describing the hiring process. In many instances, several part- time employees
resigned their positions shortly after starting with Becton Fitness Plus. Beyond hiring concerns, performance
management issues have also surfaced as a number of long-term employees are not performing their
responsibilities as expected, and according to some current employees, supervisors are largely ignoring these
issues. Many employees believe supervisors lack the necessary background to be effective in their
management roles, and have complained that mangers are do not know how to counsel employees and
manage conflict when performance issues arise. Some employees feel this inability to make employees
accountable begins with Mary and her conflict-averse and laid-back approach to management, which has affected
the center’s culture as it continues to expand.

Mary, while respected by so many in the Becton Landing community for her dedication to the well-being of its
citizens, is seen differently by employees. One employee commented recently when responding to a
satisfaction survey, “I know she has a heart of gold, and I respect her for what she has done. That said, I speak for
many employees who question her management skills, particularly as we continue to grow. Good people are
leaving. She got us to where we are, but many of us feel it’s time for us to go in a new direction under new
Becton Fitness Plus has also had to deal with an increasing number of employee relations matters from
insubordination to substance abuse. Most recently, Ken Richards, a maintenance worker who has been with
Becton Fitness Plus since 2003, allegedly made a verbal threat to a newer part-time fitness instructor, Demarco
Coleman, in front of several members near the vicinity of the front desk. Although his supervisor (Bret Miller,
property manager and director of maintenance) confronted and counseled Ken, he did not lose his job, to the
amazement of both employees and members. In addition, the incident was not documented even though multiple
employees and members witnessed the incident. Bret did not reach out to any witnesses, but a member of the
front desk staff felt the need to speak with Bret about the altercation. The employee indicated to Bret there was
an argument between Richards and Coleman about problems with the sound system in one of the fitness studios
that escalated to the point at which Richards told Coleman that he had better “watch his back.” This is not the first
time that Richards’ temper has been on display. To make matters worse, Coleman resigned the day after the
incident, sharing that he did not want to be part of an organization that allowed such behavior to take place. He
had worked at the center for only three weeks, but members enjoyed his classes, evidenced by each of his
sessions being at full capacity. Only after the meeting with the front desk employee did Miller then speak to
Richards about the incident. Even if the altercation was documented, individual employee files have not been
established to contain information including disciplinary actions, new-hire paperwork or performance appraisals.
Kimberly Greenway-Colesby, a Becton Fitness Plus board member who is the HR director of the regional
American Red Cross office, has developed a keen awareness of the human resource challenges facing Becton
Fitness Plus while being on the board for two years and serving as vice president for the past six months. She has
seen Becton Fitness Plus grow significantly in terms of the number of employees and programs as well as the
issues associated with such growth. Kimberly enjoys regularly using the center, where she routinely comes in
contact with members who know she serves on the board. After completing her Wednesday morning workout,
Kimberly was approached by another attendee who asked if she had heard about the incident involving an
employee making a verbal threat to the new, part-time employee. Kimberly replied, “Yes, I was informed, and it is
unfortunate,” not wanting to provide any additional information to the member. The member, who joined
Becton Fitness Plus when it was first opened to adults within the community, is known for being vocal about her
criticisms of the center—from there not being enough towels in the cardio room to the center’s lack of
customer service—and was quick to voice her displeasure about this incident: “It’s more than unfortunate.
Why is this employee still working here? Kimberly, you’re in HR, and I spent several years in the field as well.
This is not acceptable. What is that employee going to say about the center now that he left?” Kimberly thanked
the member for her concern, which she played over in her head throughout the remainder of the day. Later that
day, Kimberly e-mailed Christian Ryter, the current board chair, to see if they could meet for a few minutes
before the next board meeting scheduled for the following week.
Kimberly and Christian converse before the board meeting
Christian serves as a tax accountant for a local firm that is in walking distance from Becton Fitness Plus. Kimberly
does not have the same luxury, having to serve an entire region that spans 23 counties in the northwestern region
of Minnesota. Though she lives in town, her position has her traveling several hundreds of miles each week. A few
minutes behind schedule, Kimberly hurried to the room at the center where she was to meet with Christian.
“Sorry, Christian, I had a meeting with one of our managers that ran longer than anticipated. Thanks for being
here a few minutes ahead of time.” “No problem, Kimberly,” replied Christian. “I feel guilty given the short
commute I have to the center. What’s on your mind?” Kimberly got straight to the point by saying, “I have been
on the board a little more than a year now. From an HR perspective, we assisted on some difficult employee
relations issues and helped create our first employee handbook during that time. But it’s not enough.” Christian
quickly responded, “Kimberly, you have done great work in your first year. This will take some time.” Kimberly,
not at all comforted by Christian’s statement said, “There are some real fundamental HR problems we need to
deal with here.” Christian was not surprised by Kimberly’s statement and only nodded in agreement. Kimberly
added rhetorically, “And we write the policies, but are they being followed? For instance, I think Kevin and
Ashley Savage are great employees and even better people. But Kevin should not be supervising his wife. We
wrote a very clear nepotism policy saying exactly that.” Not missing a beat, she continued, “I’m sure you heard
something about the threat made by an employee to a part-timer who then quit the following day saying he did
not want to be part of an organization that condoned such behavior.” “I did,” commented Christian. “Bret (his
supervisor) spoke with the employee but did not document the incident. We don’t even have personnel files for all
employees. We wrote a progressive discipline policy when we created the handbook, but apparently it is not
being followed. This is basic stuff that is not being done.” Kimberly added in frustration, “This should not be the
board’s problem. We need to be removed from the day-to-day operations, but we also have an obligation that the
center fulfills its mission.”
All employees are expected to meet Becton Fitness Plus’s standards of work performance. Work performance
encompasses many factors, including attendance, punctuality, personal conduct, job proficiency and general
compliance with the organization’s policies, procedures, mission and values. Whenever possible, Becton Fitness
Plus believes in a positive, constructive approach to discipline. The disciplinary action taken depends on the
seriousness, nature and frequency of the offense. Disciplinary action may include documented counseling,
written warning, final warning, performance improvement plan and suspension. Ideally, the goal is to have the
employee, the supervisor and other members of management work together to solve behavioral problems and
to maintain a harmonious work environment.
Christian commented that the center has experienced growing pains in recent months. He added, “What do you
suggest?” Kimberly asked, “Would it be fine if I first spoke with Mary about the need to address employee
performance issues as was intended when we developed the handbook?” Christian welcomed the idea knowing
that a culture shift was needed. Since joining the board, Christian has had a very positive working relationship
with Mary. In the time that he has been the board president, Becton Fitness Plus has experienced strong
growth in several of its key performance indicators, including membership, retention and annual giving.
Success comes with its own set of challenges, though. Christian has witnessed Mary’s hands-off management
approach firsthand. He realizes that she enjoys the community outreach aspect of her position more so than the
day-to- day operations of the center. He has hinted at having a discussion with Mary about her thoughts on her
future at the center, but he has hesitated up to this point. Kimberly then added, “I eventually want to talk with
her about performing a comprehensive audit to address the HR needs for the center, but that might be too much
for one conversation.” Christian stated, “It makes perfect sense to determine what is needed, and it is perfect
timing as you begin to transition to the role of board president.” Kimberly replied, “Thanks. I will speak with Mary
after tonight’s meeting and let you know how it turns out.”
1. As a supervisor or organizational consultant, what actions would you take/recommend for
addressing the verbal intimidation made?
2. What discipline plan should be enforced within this organization?
3. If you were Kimberly, how would you address your concerns to Mary? What advice would you
give to her?
4. Mary determines that training supervisors could be a solution and hires an outside
consultant to facilitate the session. Develop a comprehensive approach of what topics
should be addressed in the training session given what you know from this case.

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