Case Study #2: Week 8
(Motivation and Leadership)
Julia stared blankly at a spot on her hotel room ceiling until her daze was broken by the flight of a small gray fly. It buzzed around the room, occasionally bumping into walls and landing briefly on lampshades. Julia tracked its erratic pattern along the teal wallpaper for a few seconds.
In one hand she held a newly sharpened pencil; in the other was a piece of hotel stationery graced by a few doodles: her parents’ home, a dog that looked like a horse, and a few flowers. She had not planned to draw; rather, she had been reflecting on the last eight weeks at Vision Consulting, but instead of producing a list of accomplishments, all she could muster were these few ill-formed images.
What have I been doing for the last six weeks?
Truthfully, much of Julia’s time had been spent flying across the country on a weekly basis to attend meetings with Future Furni employees. She had made some solid relationships at the company, but she was always excluded from the decision-making meetings, which generally happened between the project lead, Eric (a six-year Vision Consulting veteran with an MBA), and Future Furni executives.
Everyone knows that’s just the way it is with junior consultants, right?
But she couldn’t help feeling that her work was simply unimportant to the project. Sometimes, she spent weeks gathering information from the engineering team and even prepared beautiful slide decks, but a single meeting between the Future Furni CEO and Eric would erase her work as they went completely against her recommendations.
Goodbye to all those grand notions of having an impact in Vision Consulting that no one could ignore. In fact, being ignored was one of the most common themes of her experiences with the firm to date, particularly from Eric, who, when he wasn’t putting her down in front of colleagues, frequently gave her the silent treatment.
The longer she remained with this project, the more faded her once-vibrant aspirations seemed to become.
Julia had selected a career as a consultant because she liked the autonomy she sensed it would offer. However, in working with Eric, she had not been allowed to think independently. Eric assigned all of her tasks, and he never seemed to value her opinions.
The other day she’d had conversation with him that sounded like the previous six conversations they’d had.
“Go talk to Bernie and Rachel about the new guidelines and see what they say.”
“Wouldn’t it be better if we…”
“Just go talk to them, okay?
I have good ideas. At least, I thought I did.
Julia had tried to talk to Eric, and Lisa as well, about the quality of her work. Lisa had been with Vision Consulting for three years, working almost exclusively with tech clients. In spite of Lisa’s habit of failing to reply promptly to emails, Julia saw her as someone who could be a mentor to her.
Consulting for three years, working almost exclusively with tech clients. In spite of Lisa’s habit of failing to reply promptly to emails, Julia saw her as someone who could be a mentor to her.
But Eric and Lisa always told Julia the same thing: “You’re doing fine. Don’t worry about it.” It was like they were speaking from the same script.
Yet, nothing about the situation felt “fine.” And, besides, this was Julia’s career; she didn’t want to settle for “fine.” She wanted to be great. Instead she was feeling crushed by the overwhelming busy work, the travel, and the lack of validation. Gripping her pencil, Julia wrote:
Do I really want to be a consultant? Why am I doing this?
Case Study Questions
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