Case study: Frustrating calls
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?