Case Study

Kerstin Berger (A)

8 pages
November 2007
Reference: IMD-4-0293

Kerstin Berger observes her new colleague Tina Orton gradually slide into complete dysfunction and burnout. Orton, just hired, is given very little guidance or support in a “set up to fail” job situation. In addition she is going through tremendous personal change. With a near-impossible project, a hands-off boss, and a new culture and language (she has just moved to Switzerland to be with her new husband on an expatriate assignment), Orton finds herself in an untenable situation. She asks for help but does not get it; instead she resorts to pathological overworking in an attempt at control—an attempt that does not work and that leaves her completely burned out. When one morning Orton cleans out her office, leaves her badge on her desk, and disappears, Berger is left to pick up the pieces of her project one month before launch.

Learning Objective

To consider how it happens that accomplished professionals sometimes find themselves in impossible situations. To understand the nature of burnout and the factors behind it. To identify best (and worst) practices for hiring and “on-boarding” new professionals in IT and other staff functions. To think about our own biases about what constitutes success and failure, and to what extent situations dominate individuals in determining outcomes (fundamental attribution error).

Burnout, Career, Information Technology, Coaching, Stress, Expatriate, Training, Culture
Generalized Experience
© 2007
Available Languages
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Teaching note
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