Business

Sean is the customer-service supervisor at an office-supply business located in Indianapolis. His boss Peg, the director of sales and marketing, assigned him the task of preparing an indepth report as to why the firm has been steadily losing customers. When he first received the assignment, Sean replied, “Give me a break, Peg. We’re losing customers simply because many of our customers are shifting to e-commerce. They buy online directly from the manufacturers, or from the major supply companies such as Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax.” Peg retorted in a stern tone, “Sean, you are oversimplifying the problem. There are still office supply companies in every city. Most manufacturers do not want to deal with small orders, and companies like Staples have not created a monopoly. Please have that report to me in ten days.” “I’ve got a lot on my plate, but I will get to it,” said Sean. “I’ll do what I can to make your deadline.” Sean did not welcome preparing the report. He felt that he was already overloaded with work and that a report would not reveal much that he did not already know. He thought, “Maybe I’ll start the report late this Sunday afternoon, right after the Colts have finished playing. That should give me an hour and a half.” The Colts game went quickly, ending just a couple of minutes after 4 p.m. that Sunday. Sean reflected, “What kind of crazy workaholic am I? Why start collecting data on a report now, when I could take Lisa (his daughter) and Max (his Labrador) for a walk. It’s a beautiful fall day.” Sean then decided to begin the report Monday morning at 11, sharp. “I’ll be in a heavy work mode on Monday.” At 10:45 that morning, one of the distribution specialists sent Sean an e-mail message requesting that Sean meet with him ASAP to discuss pricing errors he had found on the company Web site. Sean decided to meet right away because in his mind dealing with an immediate operational problem was more important than writing a report. Sean then decided to begin working on the customer-loss project at 3 p.m. Wednesday because his schedule was usually light on Wednesday afternoon. When the time came, Sean began to feel nervous. “What should I do to get started? Maybe I’ll look on the Internet for some ideas.” After inserting the search phrase “Customer loss prevention” into Bing.com, Sean found more than nine million listings. He thought, “Maybe I will read a few dozen of these articles before getting started. Why re-invent the wheel?” Sean then printed the first ten articles he found and thought, “I will take these home and read them after Lisa is sleeping, and Jan (his wife) has started watching her TV tonight. Besides, the report is not due for another six days. I have plenty of time.” That night Sean fell asleep on the couch before he took the reports from his case.

1. To what extent does it appear that Sean has a procrastination problem?

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2. What advice can you offer Sean to help him get started on the report about losing customers?

3. What should Peg do to help Sean accomplish his assignment of preparing the report?

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