Article | Harvard Business Review | May 2011

Challenge the Boss or Stand Down

by W. Earl Sasser

Abstract

This HBR Case Study includes both the case and the commentary. For teaching purposes, this reprint is also available in two other versions: case study-only, reprint R1105X, and commentary-only, R1105Z. Tom Green, an aggressive young sales executive at self-service kiosk company D7 Displays, has been promoted to senior marketing specialist by Shannon McDonald, his division VP. Shannon had warned Tom that she was taking a chance with him and that he'd have to learn fast and work well with his new boss, Frank Davis, who wouldn't have chosen Tom for the position. On the job, Tom finds himself at odds with Frank and challenges him openly at a well-attended meeting. Frank begins to formally document deficiencies in Tom's performance, and McDonald falls in line with Frank. With his back against the wall, Tom must carefully consider his next move. Harvard Business School professor W. Earl Sasser presents the fictional case. Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford University, and Paul Falcone, of Time Warner Cable, offer their expert commentary.

Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Personal Development and Career; Jobs and Positions; Conferences; Service Industry;

Citation:

Sasser, W. Earl. "Challenge the Boss or Stand Down." R1105M. Harvard Business Review 89, no. 5 (May 2011).