Case study: Frus­trat­ing calls

Business Spotlight - - BUSINESS SKILLS -

Jean-pierre works for an au­to­mo­tive sup­plier and is based in Paris. He heads a Euro­pean sales team with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 14 coun­tries. On the last Fri­day of ev­ery month, he con­ducts a three-hour au­dio con­fer­ence call from 2 to 5 p.m. to re­view the sales per­for­mance in each coun­try and plan ahead for the com­ing month. The lo­cal heads of sales and at least one of their lo­cal team mem­bers are ex­pected to take part in the calls.

Jean-pierre is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated with what he sees as the poor qual­ity of these calls. De­spite Jean-pierre’s re­peated re­state­ment of the need to share best prac­tices, peo­ple rarely of­fer sup­port and ideas to col­leagues out­side their own mar­kets.

The pre­sen­ta­tions from the coun­try heads are of­ten ei­ther too long, too de­tailed and bor­ing to lis­ten to — par­tic­u­larly from the UK — or they have too lit­tle de­tail, lead­ing to the feel­ing that some heads are not tak­ing the meet­ing se­ri­ously and are not prop­erly pre­pared.

Also, par­tic­i­pants from Nordic coun­tries fre­quently call in us­ing a mo­bile phone with a poor con­nec­tion, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand them. And these col­leagues al­ways leave the meet­ing early, say­ing they have fam­ily com­mit­ments. Jean-pierre feels that this is send­ing the wrong lead­er­ship sig­nal to the rest of the team.

Af­ter yet an­other frus­trat­ing con­fer­ence call, JeanPierre de­cides to send an email to try to es­tab­lish a bet­ter team cul­ture for the calls (see box). What are the main prob­lems that Jean-pierre has iden­ti­fied with the con­fer­ence calls?

What other fac­tors could be caus­ing the prob­lems? To what ex­tent do you think Jean-pierre’s email will solve these prob­lems? What could he do bet­ter?

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