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Wendy Peterson - Accountback a Plano

By:   •  December 22, 2018  •  Case Study  •  2,108 Words (9 Pages)  •  164 Views

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Submitted October 19, 2018: Russell S. Geller

Wendy Peterson – Case Study


Problem Statement:

Wendy Peterson, Vice President for AccountBack a Plano, Texas firm specializing in accounting software and services has hired Fred (Xing) Wu born in China and educated in the United States for a software sales position.  Before joining AccountBack Wu was a successful entrepreneur in the printing field and additionally maintained close ties to the Plano Chinese Community.  Although he had little experience or exposure to software sales Peterson thought that ultimately he would be a good fit and over time would grow to fit within the culture of the company.  It now turns out that Wu is in direct conflict with Peterson and the culture of AccountBack and Peterson is faced with the following dilemma.  Wu has given Peterson an ultimatum – he must be provided with a sales assistant (which is completely out of the norm for someone in his position) or Wu has threatened that he will leave the company and more than likely take his only large client with him. Peterson is faced with giving into the demand, dismissing him to maintain her managerial/leadership position or explore a happy medium: some alternative solution where she and the company can have the “cake and eat it too.” I believe that Peterson must develop a better strategy in dealing with behavioral conflict.

Hypothesis Statement #1

Behavioral issues and leadership paradoxes exist within the Peterson - Wu relationship as well as linguistic and cultural differences. Also the understanding of the ladder of inference that Peterson must climb comes into play in this analysis.

  • Peterson is very much trying to influence the behavior of Wu so that he will act with the framework of the company and Peterson’s management style. However Peterson does not seem to be extremely successful in achieving this task. They have very different office etiquettes and work ethics. Peterson stated “I’ve often been described as a “doer” – If I see a chance to help, I don’t suggest an idea and wait for someone else to take charge.  I like to do things myself….I spearheaded a volunteer mentoring program…camaraderie spiked and I think and unexpected benefit was that focusing on new business again invigorated senior members of the sales team. (Hill and Zalosh, 2013, Page 3). With respect to Wu Peterson stated “Normally I wouldn’t have hired someone with a little hands-on experience in software sales as Wu but I was impressed with his access to executives at our target companies…I thought his experience as a successful entrepreneur would resonate with them. (Hill and Zalosh, 2013, Page 5). Additionally Peterson went on to state concerning her relationship with Wu, “I didn’t click with Wu on a personal level...I never penetrated his formal demeanor…Getting along with people comes naturally to me and I figured that, over time he would become more comfortable.” (Hill and Zalosh, 2013, Page 5).
  • Although Wu’s methodology was different in achieving his sales etiquette and sales success it was in direct conduct with the ethos and normal practices of AccountBack. However, when Wu was asked to assist his colleagues he never hesitated.  Peterson I believe understood to some degree the cultural differences that Wu brought forward at the company and his interaction within the community but Peterson had the conflict in how to approach Wu and clear up these differences.  There was a definite barrier between them. Wu at times seemed very introverted and not agreeable but yet was very conscientious with his work.  Peterson seemed to be a little more extroverted and was successful in her work but had some difficulty in managing her ability to be a manger/leader when the options around her did not align with her methodology and functionality as well as AccountBack’s.


Peterson needs to get past how Wu’s personality is portrayed and learn how to manage the diversity better. If she understood where Wu was coming from she would understand that he was an achiever as demonstrated in his past successes as an entrepreneur and try to harness his knowledge to the betterment of AccountBack  What Patterson could not get past was the differences in who they really were – how they conducted themselves in workplace and outside of it.  Wu clearly demonstrated that he was successful and his methods worked when he landed his first business deal worth over $ 400,000 in annual fees in less than a year after he was hired.  It was the single biggest client of the Plano AccountBack office and all employee were impressed with Wu’s success including Peterson. I sincerely believe that Wu would have been able to follow Peterson’s managerial style but he did not seem willing to do so – interestingly Peterson should reach out, explore the conflict and try to resolve it.  That way she would be able to harness the success of Wu without the underlying conflict and linguistic differences.

If Peterson would have had a better grasp of the ladder of inference she would have been more successful in interacting with WU and not be posed with the dilemma/conflict that she ultimately must face.

Hypothesis Statement #2        

VABEs (values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations) – Peterson and Wu have a distinct and delineated difference in VABEs as well as the exploration of extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation.

  • “ A psychological fact is that manager development means change in the manger’s self-concept…One reason self-concept is crucial is that it has a great deal to do with manager development –with being a growing person and eventually realizing one’s self potential.” (Brouwer, 1964, Page 2). This statement in my eyes really sums up Peterson, for her to understand Wu and his VABE’s she first needs to understand the concept of self-concept and how important changes in behavior really are and that is the first objective.  For Peterson to understand Wu and what he stands for (which is success with his big deal) she must understand herself and she needs to change and adapt her self-concept.  If Peterson where to understand this then her VABE’s could actually align with Wu’s and the conflict would be eradicated.  Until that point of contention is removed the lack of understanding of VABE’s will never clear up or cease to exist.
  • It is clear that Peterson is motivated and pushed by purely extrinsic motivation whereas Wu knows success and seeks more – he seeks intrinsic motivation and intrinsic value.  In using his very soft spoken demeanor he can achieve success without being the center of attention. He actually attempts to stay under the radar and go about his own methods to perpetuate his own success which will lead to the success of AccountBack.
  • At times it seems that Peterson craves to have the power over Wu however Wu does not seem to buy into it.  When confronted about turning over his new account to the AccountBack Services Team Wu resisted.  He was very involved with the client after signing them – which went against the grain of the company.  Months later Peterson inquired why there was increased revenue from Wu’s account and he stated that it was from an expensive add-on that he himself approved.  This type of add on should have normally been approved by a leader such as Peterson but it was not.  Peterson actually questioned Wu’s intentions and found out that Wu was only honoring the customer’s direct request and he produced an email which acted as legitimate proof. Peterson was conflicted by this event.


To avoid this continual conflict I would recommend that both Peterson and Wu take a step back and attempt to compromise with each other.  It seems to me that they would be more successful if they would accommodate each other’s expectations of success and work together as one unit to achieve their goal which is securing clients and maximizing profit from the deal.  I do understand that Wu’s methods were not with within the confines that AccountBack and Peterson set up as policy but one must understand that Wu actually did a good thing in securing the add-on even though it went against proper procedure.  One must understand that Wu needed or craved additional success and thought he did nothing wrong whereas Peterson thought he went against company policy.  Once again Peterson and Wu must come together to make eliminate their conflict a make it more of a positive experience attempt to avoid the consequences of non-resolution. “Steps to Maturity – Let us be clear about one point. Growth does not proceed in clear-cut, discrete, logical steps. Sometimes it occurs in inexplicable spurts, at other times with agonizing slowness.” (Brouwer, 1964, Page 2).  This quote from The Power to See Ourselves really illustrates the conflict that Peterson is facing while attempting to manage Wu within her VABEs and not his.


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