Case Study #3: Month 3

(Teamwork and Team Diversity)

“Maybe it isn’t her fault,” Eric said to Lisa, shaking his head. “But I did think she would be getting the hang of things by now. She seemed bright enough at the beginning.”

“Right?” Lisa responded. “What I want to know is who decided to put a brand-new consultant on this project when she doesn’t have any background with the tech industry? And even in, what’s it been? Two and a half months? I haven’t seen the development that I would have expected from her.”

Eric simply shrugged and rolled his eyes and said.

“Honestly, there are days when I wish she would just quit.”

It was always a lot of work to deal with Julia’s messes, and Eric didn’t have the time or the inclination to do it anymore. He shuddered almost automatically whenever Julia walked in the room because he knew what was coming next. More work for him.

Even Simran and Zach, also junior consultants who had recently joined the team, were growing in the position and making solid contributions. Simran had once been a Marine Biology major at UCLA, but she also possessed a real gift for public speaking and client interactions.

Zach, on the other hand, was far more reserved than Simran, who seemed to say pretty much whatever came to mind. Zach had come out of Music Technology and was the person least likely to say anything in team meetings. Eric couldn’t see why, given the people surrounding her, Julia just couldn’t seem to measure up.

Before Eric had met Julia two months before in the conference room of Future Furni, he had already been in a foul mood, and not just because some driver had scraped paint off the fender of his rental car in the parking lot.

He had been working for a local client with whom he had spent years cultivating a relationship when the senior VP put him on a plane to the Bay Area to work for a furniture company he had never heard of. To make matters worse, the only available junior consultant at the time was a 22-year-old new hire, Julia, who didn’t seem to know much about consulting or the industry.

Luckily, Eric had foreseen the challenges that Julia’s inexperience might present and brought a more seasoned consultant, Lisa, onto the project, hoping she could provide some additional expertise.

However, the first time Eric and Lisa had sat down to look at information Julia had gathered during her first two weeks on the project, they had been totally unprepared for what they saw.

“Look at these interviews!” Eric held up a sheaf of papers. “No structure. No theme. Nothing!”

“And it’s mostly leading questions,” Lisa added. “None of this information is going to be reliable. Didn’t anyone ever teach her about how to conduct a simple client interview?”

Now, here they were, weeks later, looking at each other in silence. Eric, vein bulging on his neck, crumpled a piece of paper and threw it toward the recycling bin. It missed.

After a minute, Lisa finally asked:

“So what do we tell her? I’m sure she’s doing the best she knows how. I don’t want to make her feel bad. Maybe she just needs more time.”

Eric responded:

“I think there’s not a whole lot we can do about it,” Eric grimaced. “We need to hope she steps it up and gels with the team, or else she’s gone. For now, let’s just keep salvaging her work and try to fill in the gaps.”

Case Study Questions

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