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Jeffrey Moses was facing one of the toughest decisions of his short career as a manager with International Consulting.

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The No-Show Consultant Jeffrey Moses was facing one of the toughest decisions of his short career as a manager with International Consulting. Andrew Carpenter, one of his best consultants, was clearly in trouble, and his problems were affecting his work. International Consulting designs, installs, and implements complex back-office software systems for companies all over the world. About half the consultants work out of the main office, while the rest, including Carpenter, work primarily from home. This Monday morning, Moses had gotten an irate call from a major New York client saying Ca...

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The No-Show Consultant Jeffrey Moses was facing one of the toughest decisions of his short career as a manager with International Consulting. Andrew Carpenter, one of his best consultants, was clearly in trouble, and his problems were affecting his work. International Consulting designs, installs, and implements complex back-office software systems for companies all over the world. About half the consultants work out of the main office, while the rest, including Carpenter, work primarily from home. This Monday morning, Moses had gotten an irate call from a major New York client saying Carpenter never showed up at the company’s headquarters, where the client had been expecting his new computer system to go live for the first time. In calling around to other customers on the East Coast trying to locate the missing consultant, Moses heard other stories. Carpenter had also missed a few other appointments—all on Monday mornings—but no one had felt the need to report it because he had called to reschedule. In addition, he practically came to blows with an employee who challenged him about the capabilities of the new system, and he inexplicably walked out of one customer’s office in the middle of the day, without a word to anyone. Another client reported that the last time he saw Carpenter, he appeared to have a serious hangover. Most of the clients liked Carpenter, but they were concerned that his behavior was increasingly erratic. One client suggested that she would prefer to work with someone else. As for the major New York customer, he preferred that Andrew rather than a new consultant finish the project, but he also demanded that International eat half the $250,000 consultant’s fee. After Moses finally located Carpenter by calling his next-door neighbor, Carpenter confessed that he’d had a “lost weekend” and been too drunk to get on the plane. He then told Moses that his wife had left and taken their two-year-old son with her. He admitted that he had been drinking a little more than usual lately, but insisted that he was getting himself under control and promised no more problems. “I’m really not an alcoholic or anything,” he said. “I’ve just been upset about Brenda leaving, and I let it get out of hand this weekend.” Moses told Carpenter that if he would get to New York and complete the project, all would be forgiven. Now, however, he wondered whether he should really just let things slide. Moses talked to Carpenter’s team leader about the situation and was told that the leader was aware of his recent problems but thought everything would smooth itself over. “Consultants with his knowledge, level of skill, and willingness to travel are hard to find. He’s well liked among all the customers; he’ll get his act together.” However, when Moses discussed the problem with Carolyn Walter, vice president of operations, she argued that Carpenter should be dismissed. “You’re under no obligation to keep him just because you said you would,” she pointed out. “This was a major screw-up, and it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for absenteeism. Your calls to customers should make it clear to you that this situation was not a onetime thing. Get rid of him now before things get worse. If you think eating half that $250,000 fee hurts now, just think what could happen if this behavior continues.” What Would You Do? 1. Give Carpenter a month’s notice and terminate. He’s known as a good consultant, so he probably won’t have any trouble finding a new job, and you’ll avoid any further problems associated with his emotional difficulties and his possible alcohol problem. 2. Let it slide. Missing the New York appointment is Carpenter’s first big mistake. He says he is getting things under control, and you believe that he should be given a chance to get himself back on track. 3. Let Carpenter know that you care about what he’s going through, but insist that he take a short paid leave and get counseling to deal with his emotional difficulties and evaluate the seriousness of his problems with alcohol. If the alcohol abuse continues, require him to attend a treatment program or find another job.

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Consultant C has been missing client appointments due to drinking since his wife left him. Although the transgressions have been minor until now, a large client has asked for a $125,000 refund from your company for his recent no-show.

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