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Instant

Hannah Walt: Is She Trustworthy?

Strategy
Published on:

When Hannah Walt became the managing director of Epano Consulting of the Berlin branch, she did not only inherit challenges; she also had to face the general issue of being new to the business unit. She was promoted from within the company but came from a different geographical unit and had not worked in the Berlin office before.

The case traces the first few weeks when Hannah became the managing director of the branch office. She is a fictitious character in a fictitious firm specialized in global environmental sustainability consulting services. Although Hannah had been with Epano Consulting for a few years; she had been based in the US and UK offices.

She was on a career fast track. She was not known in the Berlin office when she was named. One week into the job in Berlin, getting to know the staff, organization, and key clients, she organizes a general staff meeting with all the employees, including her direct reports.

 

The story allows the exploration of trust in granular detail.

 

Her first informal meeting as the managing director was a resolute disaster. The silence in the meeting hall was violently quiet. During the entire meeting, she heard no one speak, although she invited questions and comments. Hannah’s voice was the only sound in the meeting hall; thus, the silent treatment was her official ‘welcome’ from the staff.

We later learn in the case that the previous managing director prior to Hannah’s arrival had made promises of overtime pay and promotions. These promises were not kept. Against this backdrop and Hannah Walt’s first weeks in the new position, the objective is to explore the concept of trust in depth and how one can try to proactively create trust in a case presented in two parts: A and B.

WHY THIS CASE?

Building trusting relationships at the workplace is one of the most important building blocks in a company in general and for any career. The story allows the exploration of trust in granular detail such as understanding trust in social interactions, building trust proactively and rebuilding trust when it is broken.


Learn about the role of trust at work in this RESKILL Masterclass with Professor Brad Harris: Team Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

 

This business case was written by Nils Plambeck, Associate Professor of Strategy & Business Policy at HEC Paris and is available on the Case Centre.

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