Case Study: Missed Opportunities
This is a hypothetical scenario based on a real-life situation where the relationship between a manager and an employee could have led to a stronger bond and perhaps even higher productivity. However, the result was unfortunately not as productive as it could have been. Let’s look at the scenario from the perspective of both key protagonists: Marta, the VP of a local manufacturing company, and Amber, the Quality Coordinator.
The Boss’ Perspective
Let’s start with the VP’s perspective. Towards the end of the day, the Marta finds out that a meeting with a client has been pushed up to tomorrow afternoon instead of the end of next week. The VP is responsible to provide an update on production schedules and a quality report of the customer’s custom order.
Marta will need the assistance of her recently promoted quality coordinator to gather the necessary data for the presentation. The former coordinator was a trusted resource, but he left last month to another department within the company. Marta wastes no time. She sends an email to Amber with detailed instructions and marked as highly important. A minute later, there is no response. Marta’s former coordinator would have sent an acknowledgement by now.
Marta can see the quality coordinator from her office window and decides this change in circumstances and the upcoming project is too important to ignore, so she walks up to the coordinator’s office to discuss the email. She notices that Amber is on the phone. It is almost the end of the day and customers usually do not call at this time, so it is likely that the call is a personal call. Marta feels it is appropriate to interrupt the call given the importance of the upcoming project.
Amber puts the caller on hold just long enough to say she was talking to IT about something and that she could not stay after the call to talk about anything because she had to leave right away, but that she was going to check her email first thing in the morning. Then she got back to her call. At this point Marta said, “Well, I guess I will just find someone who can help then.” Before closing time, Marta is able to get a hold of her former coordinator, Daniel, and asked him to come back to help with this project for a few hours and make sure Amber got everything together that would be needed for the presentation.
- What did Marta do well?
- What could she have done better?
- What is your reaction to what Amber did?
- How would you have responded if you were in the VP’s shoes?
The Employee’s Perspective
Let’s look at the same situation, but this time let’s view it from Amber’s perspective.
It is late in the day, and Amber has been dealing with computer issues all day. She has to work on several important reports tomorrow afternoon, and she has IT support on the phone now. She knows if she hangs up now, she might not get a hold of them again until the day after tomorrow. To make matters worse, she has to pick up her child from the daycare center on time or else she faces paying a steep penalty charge that she simply cannot afford.
While on the phone, she notices an email coming in from her VP and marked as highly important. Amber needs to focus on the call because the IT support people are asking for very detailed information, so she cannot look into the email right away.
A couple of minutes later, Amber hears a loud knock on her window. It is the VP saying she wants to talk about the email she sent. Amber asks the person on the phone to hold for a second and proceeds to explain to Marta that she cannot postpone this call, and that she has to leave right away after the call. She promises to look at her email and meet with Marta first thing in the morning. As Amber gets back to her call, she overhears Marta say she’ll go find someone else to help.
On her way home, Amber gets a call from Daniel, her former boss and the person she took over for. He wants to know what’s going on and why Marta asked him to come in and help her (Amber), with a project in the morning.
- What did Amber do well?
- What is your reaction to the VP’s actions?
- How would you feel if you were in Amber’s shoes?
- What could she have done better?