MINI CASE: INCIVILITY AT VGC

Course is Organizational Behavior

MINI CASE: INCIVILITY AT VGC

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Victor Manheim is a project manager at VGC, a regional consulting firm specializing in providing accounting and financial professional services to high potential tech start-ups. He has been with the firm for four years, and is considered to be on the fast track for promotion to senior manager of the Asia Pacific market within the next six months. He was especially excited about that possibility, having spent a year in Singapore during his undergraduate studies. After having received his Master’s degree from UM-Dearborn, he started his career at McKinsey and Company. Though he enjoyed his work, he ultimately felt he could have greater impact and better career opportunities with a smaller, more specialized firm positioned for growth. After receiving several offers he decided on VGC. Though the workload and travel expectations were quite intense, the work itself was challenging, and it allowed him to use his expertise, and his passion for technology. In his judgment, his career seemed to be flourishing. It wasn’t uncommon for him to receive calls from headhunters seeing if he was interested in making another move. He wasn’t interested, although always made it a point to listen to what they had to say.

As Victor had hoped, VGC was experiencing substantial growth into new markets. Much of the credit for this growth was attributed to Mark Tusk, the Vice President of Business Development at VGC. Mark had been with the firm almost from the beginning, and had a reputation for his unrelenting drive for results. His client relationships were considered to be exceptional, and he was often referred to as the “face” of the company to external constituents, many whom were quite influential in business and government. He was known internally for meting out harsh criticism. His occasional outbursts to staff members at lower levels in the firm were well known. However, no one had ever made any formal complaints. Throughout the years, his bosses had looked the other way, and attributed his behavior to an intense, perfectionist, and somewhat arrogant personality.

Quarterly Management Meeting

Each quarter senior leaders from VGC met with the project managers to discuss key projects the teams were working on. Victor was a bit apprehensive in presenting his team’s results at these meetings, simply because of the high level senior leadership team who attended. On the other hand, his results were always impressive and this quarter was no different. He had spent a considerable amount of time preparing his presentation, and had tried to anticipate the questions that were likely to be asked.

This meeting was typical. In attendance were VGC’s three vice presidents, his boss Joanna Young, the newly appointed head of HR Martina Alvisi, and the other project managers.

Victor began his presentation with confidence. As he began to talk about this quarter’s financial performance, he was interrupted by Mark Tusk. “There is no way those numbers can be correct. What did you do, throw them together right before the meeting?” Victor was really taken by surprise, and paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. He asked Mark if there was something specific about the financials that made him question the numbers. Mark responded in an angry voice “You tell me. It’s not my job to be checking your work. You have a Master’s degree from UM-Dearborn, didn’t they teach you anything? I’m so tired of you project managers thinking you can just pass anything off as quality work.” Victor was stunned but tried to quickly regain his composure and said “I am confident that the quarterly financials are an accurate representation of where we stand.” To that, Mark yelled, “This is a big waste of our time. Why don’t you come back when you know what the he** you’re doing. And you’re supposed to be a rising star at VGC, that’s a joke.” Victor’s mind went blank, and he did not respond.

It was apparent that others in the room were uncomfortable over this exchange. Another Vice President suggested they move on to the next report. Victor went back to his seat, and sat quietly until the end of the meeting.

After the meeting was over, he told his boss Joanna that he didn’t feel well, and would take the rest of the day off. “Rough meeting” Joanna said. Victor just nodded and left. Fortunately, it was Friday and this was a long holiday weekend, and Victor didn’t have to return to work until Tuesday. When he came back, he seemed withdrawn and avoided his team and his colleagues for a couple days. He managed to get back on track by the end of the week, but not with his usual enthusiasm.

On a Friday morning, three weeks after the quarterly management meeting, Victor got a call from a headhunter, who asked Victor to meet her for coffee. “What do I have to lose?” Victor thought, and quickly agreed.

QUESTION: Evaluate how the different individuals present at the meeting responded to the situation. What could they/should they have done?

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