The Case of Julie and Susan

The Case of Julie and Susan



The Case of Julie and Susan


The case presents a situation where two people working in the same office fail to agree on issues concerning work responsibilities and assignments. Julie gets along well with all the faculty members apart from Susan. All the other faculty members are men. She has a good working relationship with the chair of the department. She is highly motivated in her work and she receives good appraisals for her work and the projects she does. Although she is flexible in her work management, she faces a situation where she faces work overload since she has to deal with all the clerical, secretarial, and computer services for her department. Susan is one of the faculty members and has a busy schedule. Unlike Julie, she tends to work overtime and she does not find any time to socialize with her colleagues. Moreover, she has no time to answer to messages and she gives ambiguous and incomprehensive responses.

This case highlights the conflict that can occur due to misunderstanding between colleagues. It highlights the importance of respect for other people’s work. Susan does not seem to understand that Julie has other work she has to complete. She expects her to abandon everything she is doing and work on her work requirements. Susan also fails to understand the fact that Julie needs more information and clarification so that she can deal with the complex work demands. Julie has difficulties trying to complete the work that Susan gives her. The fact that she is able to complete the work of all the other faculty members without any problems shows that she does not have any problems in understanding what is required of her. Susan seems to think that other people should work as much as she does. On the other hand, Julie has social and family obligations that she has to fulfill

Julie realizes that Susan has a busy schedule compared to the other workers. She comes in earlier than the others do and she continues working long after they have gone. There is a problem of communication between the two of them. Susan’s idea to use her assistant as a link between her and Julie has not worked. It has led to a situation where the wrong information is passed between them. Moreover, she has failed to communicate the urgency of her situation to Julie. In addition, Susan does not use the digital devices that she has to communicate to Julie. Although she has a smartphone and a laptop that she can use to send clear instructions to Julie and answer any of the question that she has, she does not do so at the appropriate time. There is a need for Susan to reexamine her work schedule, to manage her time well, to improve her communication skills, and to dedicate time for others. Susan should consider giving Julie some leeway instead of being angry with her. It is clear that she is largely to blame for the current situation. Had she given Julie the paper to complete in time and responded to the questions she had. She would not have faced some of the problems that she is experiencing at the present. 

It is easy to blame Susan for most of what is happening in the situation. However, one should also consider the situation at both ways. Susan tells Julie that she is the only one who is not able to complete the work she gives her on time. She notes that other people are able to do the work well and they can cope with her demands. If this is the case, it means that there is a problem in how Julie does some of the work. There are different work requirements for all the faculty members. Julie does not seem to understand this. The work that the faculty members have to do differs in term of their urgency and their difficulty. If Julie understood this, then she would dedicate some of her free time towards her work.

 The fact that Julie and the other members socialize and they have developed a culture of informality with each other is also worth considering. This might be why some of the other faculty members do not seem to have a problem with Julie. They socialize with her and they know her in other circles. Therefore, they would not be comfortable with the idea of criticizing her work. Susan does not have any experience with this culture of informality. She expects all the workers to behave formally and to complete their work within the assigned time. Hence, she thinks that Julie requires structure and direction in her work.

There is a clash of personalities between Susan and Julie. They have diverse opinions and attitudes regarding each other. On one hand, Susan seems to be a perfectionist in her work. She is not satisfied with the quality of work that Julie does even though other members have different opinions on this. She feels that she has treated Julie with respect and that she has always been fair to her. On the other hand, Julie feels that she has always given Susan the respect that she deserves. She has gone out of her way to do what Susan requests. Despite this, Julie feels that Susan is demanding and offhand.

Pat has done his best to ensure that the department has a favorable culture. He has managed to reduce work conflicts since many of the faculty members and the staff work well together. This has also ensured that all the staff members are productive. However, it is clear that there is a need to define work roles and responsibilities. Julie has to handle all the work demands of other faculty members. The staff members need to have a clear definition of their work. They should know what their work entails and the person they respond to whenever they have any questions or problems.

There is also a need to define the rights of the employees. Although Susan might be a hard worker, she might be infringing on the rights of the other workers. She does not have a balance between her work and her social life. She expects every person to be the same. Employees have rights, and they include the right to have a balanced life. They should be able to manage their work in such a way that they are able to meet other obligations. In the same way, they should not use office time for doing other things. Their social and family life should not compromise their ability to work.

Recommendations and Implementation

  1. Pat needs to talk to both Julie and Susan. He needs the two to talk about the real situation that is causing the conflict between them. Susan stormed out of the office when Julie noted her mistakes. Therefore, there is a need to have a mediator between the two. Pat can act as that mediator by ensuring that the two get to talk about all the issues that are affecting them. This will ensure that no interruptions take place. During the discussion, both of them should propose the solution to their problem. Julie feels that she can handle the work if she has more time and if she is given clear instructions. Susan feels that Julie’s work is not up to standard. In this case, I think that it would be better for Susan’s research assistant to handle most of her work. Since she works with Susan directly, she understands what their work requires. If this is not possible, then Susan should consider hiring a highly qualified personal assistant who will be able to cope with her busy work schedule. Pat should communicate with the two of them immediately so that the department can resume normal operations.
  2. Pat needs to discuss with the faculty members concerning the roles and responsibilities of the staff. The human resource department should have clear guidelines concerning what is required of all the employees. The discussions will ensure that all the faculty members understand their own responsibilities and that they respect the rights of the staff members. Pat can talk with the faculty members to determine the time that is most appropriate for the meeting. However, they should ensure that they could find time as soon as possible. The discussions can take place some time in the evening, after the members are done with their assigned duties.
  3. Although the culture within the workplace does not seem to have caused any problems, it is clear that Pat needs to emphasize the importance of professionalism in the work place. This will ensure that all the workers treat each other with respect. It will also ensure that all the people take their responsibilities seriously.
  4. Pat should consider using an outside person to conduct some of the appraisals. This will ensure fairness and it will dispel any fears of favoritism
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