Upon reading the case of Lisa Benton, I could not help but feel somewhat upset, because what happened to her is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Specifics aside, the divergence between our job expectations and the reality is indeed a problem for many people, and especially for those who only start their working experience. Still, I believe that we can learn useful lessons from the case of Lisa Benton. First of all, it must be noted that Benton got this mess with her job in a quite unnoticeable fashion. Brimming with positive intentions from the very start, both in terms of readiness to acquire new professional skills and having a firm purpose to be on good terms with her prospective colleagues, Benton was gradually getting deeper and deeper into a conundrum of how to combine these two aims. In this regard, the main reason that lead Benton to her problems was that her immediate colleagues, Scoville and Linton, actually made it impossible for her to simultaneously express herself in both respects. Benton, on the other hand, inevitably was comparing her situation at Houseworld with that at Right-Away during her summer internship, and it was hard for her to accept that the harmony between professional progress and relations with people at workplace, which she experienced at Right-Away, may not always exist.
It is interesting to ponder if there was something Benton could do differently in order to had changed her situation. I think that the main negative factor that existed from the very beginning and was inevitable for Lisa, was her assignment to a minor department, the fact that she herself realized and regretted. In this case, ambitions of Linton, seemingly aimed at promoting the significance of Pure &. Fresh brand, could be ambivalent – on one hand she aimed for successful performance of her brand, on the other hand she probably was anxious about the recognition of her personal role in this success, moreover that she did not have an MBA. In such circumstances, I believe that for Benton, with her somewhat idealistic attitude, there was virtually no chance to avoid confrontation, and she could probably only do better by coming to a full realization of her doubtful perspective in the company at an earlier point.
A good illustration of the attitude of Linton to her subordinate is provided by the evaluation session conducted by Linton. During this session, Linton acted as if trying to downgrade Benton. This was evident despite her formal observance of norms – she initially voiced some strengths of Benton, which sounded to Lisa not really that valuable, and then went on to accuse her of not taking initiative, and of lacking confidence. The irony was that for Benton these criticisms touched on her personal qualities which she felt were her strengths that she could not manifest due to constraints placed on her by Scovilles teaching attitude.
So, what can be recommended for Benton in her situation Importantly, the perspective that the situation will improve by itself is quite slim. During her time at Houseworld Benton did not really yet start to work in earnest and was a kind of a sitcom participant. In many cases she was trying to save her face, while it did not help her achieve her aim. Therefore, I believe that for Benton there are two options. She can find courage to ask Jack Vernon, a group product manager, to reassign her to another brand. In this case Benton will have to reconcile herself with the presence of people within the company with whom she will be in a widely known confrontation, not a very comfortable factor. On the other hand, at a new position she may obtain a better opportunity to fully realize herself, which may soon obliterate the past troubles and advance Benton. Lisa as well can try to return to Right-Away. In this case she will avoid an uncertainty of her future at Houseworld. Still, leaving Houseworld with her situation there unresolved may leave Benton with a fear of working in large companies akin to Houseworld. However, I believe that as the risk of unfavorable interpersonal circumstances exists in every company, for Benton the preferable strategy should be to find the most comfortable place for her to obtain the much needed experience. And if Right-Away, and its president Kingston first of all, will welcome Benton as it was in the past, she should opt for it even though Right-Away is not such a big company.
Seger Weber, Katherine. Lisa Benton. The Publishing Division, Harvard Business School