Managing Conflicts and Confidences

JWI 522: Strategic Partnering with the C-Suite Assignment #4 Scenario
© Strayer University. All Rights Reserved. This document contains Strayer University confidential and proprietary information and may not be copied, further distributed, or otherwise disclosed, in whole or in part, without the expressed written permission of Strayer University. This course guide is subject to change based on the needs of the class.
JWMI 522 – Assignment 4 Scenario (1236) Page 1 of 2
Assignment 4 Scenario: Doing Your Job, or Crossing the Line?
The Annual Sales meeting was wrapping up its second day. The working sessions and presentations from the field teams and the corporate office had been engaging and upbeat, and it was no mystery as to why. After several quarters of weak sales, forecasts had finally started to pick up and the future looked more optimistic. There was a rumor that a big deal was going to be announced tomorrow by the CEO.
After dinner, most of the Sales reps, as well as the regional VPs, went to the bar. The sales team had a bit of a reputation for partying. Occasionally, they might drink a bit too much and do a little bragging about their sales. But nobody worried too much, since the event was held at a hotel and nobody was driving.
As the new Head of HR, this was your first National Sales meeting, and it was a lot more fun than you had expected. It was a great chance to meet the Sales reps, who were scattered all over the country. The event gave you a chance, not only to get to know these front-line warriors as individuals, but to get a better sense of the challenges they faced on a daily basis. Securing meetings with potential buyers and getting deals closed are no easy tasks, especially in a tough competitive environment. As a supplier of high-tech equipment, your company sold to a relatively small number of buyers. The industry was specialized, and reps did not move frequently, so the Sales team was a tight-knit group.
At the bar was Rick, a top-performing Sales rep and recent addition to the team. He had an audience of seven or eight salespeople gathered around him, and you could tell he was enjoying it. The other reps all liked Rick and looked up to him. He had been in the business for a while and had worked for two competitors before joining the team at your company. He had no shortage of war stories. Even though you were not part of the conversation, it was not hard to hear what he was talking about. Every time he cracked a joke, a chorus of laughter would erupt.
You thought to yourself, “It’s great to have people like this on the team. The younger reps can really learn from them, and Rick just has a way of building enthusiasm for the business.”
In the midst of the jokes and stories, Rick, now on his third scotch, dropped his voice and leaned into the group, “Look, you’re all naïve if you think the way to get deals is to just get out there and hustle. The truth is, you’ve got to work deals from the inside. It’s all about relationships. Let me tell you how it’s done …”
Finishing his glass, Rick continued: “Tomorrow they’re going to announce the biggest deal this company has ever seen – my deal. My cousin works for the client and let’s just say, from time to time, we help each other out. Look, I’ve built my business on my connections. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody wins. We get the business, the client gets a great product, and our shareholders get a boost in stock prices. Besides, we need this deal. As you all know, we’ve been losing business. You might even say we were on the way out! But now, you’ve got some job security and, once this deal goes public, it will create a huge buzz out there, and then it won’t be long before you’ll all be taking home some pretty nice bonuses.” A big grin came over Rick’s face, as the other reps murmured their approval.
The rest of the conversation got lost in the noise, but you had heard what you heard. You thought to yourself, “Hmm, it was nothing, probably just bragging. And the conversation wasn’t even meant to include me. I just happened to be within earshot.” You continued with your own social chit-chat with colleagues but, in the back of your mind, you kept replaying what you had heard over and over.

JWI 522: Strategic Partnering with the C-Suite Assignment #4 Scenario
© Strayer University. All Rights Reserved. This document contains Strayer University confidential and proprietary information and may not be copied, further distributed, or otherwise disclosed, in whole or in part, without the expressed written permission of Strayer University. This course guide is subject to change based on the needs of the class.
JWMI 522 – Assignment 4 Scenario (1236) Page 2 of 2
As if on cue, the Head of Sales for North America, Andy, slapped you on the back and asked, “What do you think? Pretty good team we got here, huh?”
“Yea, great. Super bunch of people. Everyone’s so excited. Um, hey, listen, I need to talk to you about something.” The two of you stepped away from the bar and you recounted what you heard.
At first, there was nothing but a blank stare from Andy. Then he took a deep breath and responded, “Look, you’re new here. You’re still learning the business. That’s okay. Everybody seems to like you. Our CEO is a big fan. I’d hate to see any of that change.”
What did that mean? Was he sending a warning?
Andy continued, “Anyway, and I’m just telling you this for your own good … as a friend … it’s none of your business. Besides, we don’t even know if what he said is true.”
Just what you had been telling yourself – it could just be that Rick was making up a story to show off.
As Andy kept talking, his tone grew more forceful: “I run this team, and it’s my job on the line if we don’t deliver the numbers. Look, you know we need this deal. It can be the difference between people keeping their jobs or losing them. You know how hard things have been. We’re finally starting to gain some traction, and a big part of that has been my ability to bring in heavy hitters like Rick. These guys are out on the front lines getting stuff done, not tucked away in an office pushing papers.”
It didn’t take a whole lot of reading between the lines to know where that last comment was directed.
“Anyway, how about if you stick to running HR, and I stick to managing the Sales team? I’ll have a chat with Rick after the announcement tomorrow.” And with a wink and an enigmatic smile, Andy ended the conversation and walked away.
You went to bed and told yourself to let it go. You tried to rationalize it away. It was probably nothing more than a bit of drunken boasting and of, course, relationships are important in doing business. Who would deny that? Either way, there was no upside to pursuing it. Besides, as Andy said, the business had hired Rick because he was a rainmaker, and now he has delivered. We’re all going to benefit from this deal, and we won’t have to cut staff.
But a little voice inside your head just wouldn’t let it go. This could be serious. If it is true, and it gets out, not only will we lose the contract, but we are potentially facing legal action. Also, if I let Rick’s comment go, am I sending a message to our Sales team that we didn’t earn this through hard work, but because of a shady deal? Do we really want that type of rumor floating around our Sales team? Or beyond?
The next morning, after a night of broken sleep, you knew what you had to do. You sat down to make some notes for the conversation you planned to have that day with the CEO.
As you walked into the breakfast room at the hotel, you found the CEO chatting with a few employees over coffee. Everyone seemed to be in great spirits. You took a deep breath, leaned in and said, “Hey, do you have a few minutes? I need to talk to you about something.”


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