Building a Global Team Tariq Khan at Tek Case Study Please answer these questions based on case which I uploaded. – Must be based on Case. -Using bullet

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1. Assuming Tarik Kahn takes the offered position, he faces many Human Resources and related issues that he will need to address and resolve if he is to be successful. Please identify and Briefly explain these issues (BUT NOT HOW TO RESOLVE THEM; THIS IS QUESTION # 2 BELOW.)

2. What actions should Kahn take to help resolve each of the issues identified in (1) above? Please be specific. For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
9 -4 1 4 -0 5 9
REV: NOVEMBER 10, 2015
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
Tariq Khan arrived home after a 16-hour meeting. He was grappling with whether to accept the
global sales and marketing team manager position. Khan spent the entire day with the senior
leadership of the team trying to understand the group’s challenges. However, the meeting had raised
more questions than answers.
Already a rising star within his company, Khan was only 33 when he was offered this high-profile
position to lead a diverse 68-person team whose members hailed from 27 countries and spoke 18
different languages. The team’s recent performance had seen a precipitous decline, resulting in the
previously well-regarded manager departing the company in a state of disrepute. Employee
satisfaction also plunged by more than half its peak nearly two years prior. Should Khan accept the
position, he would be expected to reverse the performance lag in less than two years, achieving
substantial sales growth and increasing market share. However, should he fail to resurrect the team in
the allotted timeframe, his status as a high-potential would be jeopardized. Khan hoped that meetings
with both the senior executives and the outgoing manager would help him decide whether or not to
take the position.
The meetings thus far had been exhausting, but revealing. Khan had a greater understanding of the
group, but still had one more week to make up his mind. The following day, he would begin his tour
of the Middle East and Central and South Asia to meet the rest of the team. He wondered if a week was
enough time to assess the situation, but he pushed this question to the back of his mind and started
Tariq Khan
Khan began his career as an electrical engineer with SPK in Pakistan, where he worked on industrial
projects in sales, business development, and project management. Eventually, he became the project
manager for a $20-million contract. Four years later, he moved to Tek and joined an exclusive list of
“high potentials” whose progress was reevaluated every two years. He had the potential to be
promoted every 18 to 24 months and learn a variety of roles within the company. This visibility within
the firm would provide him with a fast-track route to an executive role. Even though he was constantly
being evaluated by senior executives, being on the list meant plenty of opportunities.
Professor Tsedal Neeley prepared this case with the support of Research Associates Colin Donovan and Nathan Overmeyer. It was reviewed and
approved before publication by the case protagonist. Funding for the development of this case was provided by Harvard Business School, and not
by the company. The company and characters have been disguised. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not
intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be
digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.
This document is authorized for use only by Shuning Xu in Designing/Managing International Organizations-1-1-1-1-1-1 (A) taught by ROBERT COSCARELLO, Pepperdine University from
Mar 2020 to Apr 2020.
For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
The first four years of Khan’s Tek career in Pakistan included assignments in procurement,
planning, and frontline sales, plus time as a sales team leader. He was also promoted to country
manager for Pakistan and served on a Global Competence Development Committee in addition to his
regular responsibilities. This role allowed him to visit sales teams around the world and observe their
methods, motivations and challenges. When he moved to Dubai for a new assignment in business
development, Khan kept his existing position on the Global Competence Development Committee.
Again, he cycled through various roles, rotating between staff and line functions. In his business
development role, he led Tek’s penetrations into Iraq and Bangladesh, where he worked with a
linguistically and culturally diverse team for the first time.
A Tip and Advice from Singapore
After almost four years in various business development roles in Dubai, Khan knew that his
window of opportunity for a promotion was about to open again. A friend in Singapore, who was
senior within Tek, notified Khan that the position of General Manager for Sales and Marketing would
soon be available. The team, Khan was told, had been failing. The previous manager, known for his
wealth of experience and also a “high potential” at Tek, was leaving the company.
Khan was encouraged by his friend to apply for this new and challenging role. After he was
selected, he began to consider his options. He had a proven track record of success, but he wondered
if taking this role was too much of a risk; could he chance losing his position on the list of high
potentials? Perhaps even more nerve-wracking, the executives who selected him for the role wanted
quick results. Khan wondered how he could turn things around in less than two years, growing sales
substantially and increasing Tek’s market share. Khan questioned how the group’s problems had
flummoxed even an experienced manager.
“Everyone thought the previous manager was a great leader,” Khan told his friend in Singapore.
“He tried team-building activities and cultural awareness exercises, as well as a lot of new ideas, and
he still failed. I’m a lot younger than he is. How can I expect to do any better?” His friend played up
the opportunities that this job might afford Khan: “True, you are younger, and you will need to
delicately manage older workers from the Middle East and Asia. But this group needs fresh ideas, and
you have the potential to be successful.” As Khan started to mull his options, his friend added, “This
can be a very important global role for someone on track to become an executive here.”
With this encouragement, Khan thought about his previous roles. He had worked well with a
culturally diverse team on the penetrations into Iraq and Bangladesh. He recalled how he became closer
with the Indian nationals on his team than with his fellow Pakistanis by making a concerted effort to
reach out to them. It required him to reject long-standing stereotypes that many Pakistanis and Indians
held toward one another as a result of longstanding border disputes and religious tension. Yet Khan
was able to find common ground by sharing that his father was born in India. As part of the Global
Competence Development cohort, Khan visited sales teams often, getting out and mixing around. In
country after country, he had gained insight into the region-specific challenges faced by his colleagues
in different markets. As he thought about his experiences, Khan became more confident in his abilities.
Still, the job remained a huge risk. If he took the job, it would be do or die: succeed, and his star would
continue to rise even faster, but fail, and years of hard work and careful planning would be negated.
A Caveat from the Departing Manager
The day that Khan received the job offer, he decided to solicit the advice of his potential
predecessor, Ali Amlak, who agreed to meet with him. After quick introductions, Khan shared his
concerns with him:
This document is authorized for use only by Shuning Xu in Designing/Managing International Organizations-1-1-1-1-1-1 (A) taught by ROBERT COSCARELLO, Pepperdine University from
Mar 2020 to Apr 2020.
For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
“While I am thrilled to have this opportunity, I am worried about where things stand,” Khan
With an air of exasperation, Amlak responded:
“Listen, I am going to be completely honest with you—the situation is simply out of
control. I was spread too thin, putting out fires left and right. On top of running this
business, all sorts of issues consumed my time. A manager was accused of sexual
harassment, which embroiled us in a difficult legal situation. Ultimately, it was a crosscultural misunderstanding. Then there were customer issues—missed and unfulfilled
deliveries. The list just goes on and on.”
Amlak paused momentarily and looked away in reflection, before continuing:
“It was always a struggle to get buy-in for new initiatives, and I frequently met fierce
resistance if I tried to make changes. An annual retreat was one step in the right direction.
We brought the entire team together in one location for the first time, and this seemed to
help. A session during the retreat was geared toward cultural sensitivity. Clearly, this
wasn’t enough—the same issues and old ways of working resurfaced shortly after. Listen,
Tariq, I think this job has ruined my reputation here, and I have no choice but to leave. If
I were you, I would think twice before taking this on.”
Amlak’s advice left Khan feeling anxious and even more uncertain. The new insights weighed
heavily on Khan’s mind, but for now, he decided it was best to sleep on what he had just heard.
Working across Boundaries
The entire team was about to meet in Dubai. It was the perfect chance for Khan to sit in on the
session, and then meet with human resources and the team’s senior leadership the following day. When
he arrived, he was shocked by how many languages were being spoken before the meeting started. As
he walked around the room, he heard English in one corner, Russian in another, and Arabic in yet
another. It quickly became apparent to Khan that the team, given free rein to sit wherever they wanted,
had divided itself based on their native language, even though everyone in the group spoke English.
As the day’s sessions progressed, Khan noticed that the language-based cliques also had religions and
cultural traditions in common. As they bonded, these clusters drifted further apart from the larger
Khan began to see why people segregated into language groups. He noticed that team members did
not all have the same level of fluency or comfort in English, which further exacerbated the language
barriers among them. Native and highly-fluent English speakers spoke too quickly which caused lessfluent colleagues to hesitate with their questions. During one break, Khan overheard one of the quieter
team members ask his colleagues, “What did he contribute today? What does he bring to the table?”
Khan began to ask himself whether the shyer members of the team were legitimately concerned with
their more fluent teammates. Perhaps, they were simply disguising their weaker skills by questioning
the usefulness of speakers they didn’t understand.
Khan learned that team members working in Central Asia had it especially tough. They were
already operating in two languages, since Russian was widely used by business contacts, but Kazakh
or Uzbek was used when communicating with government officials and customers. Oftentimes,
This document is authorized for use only by Shuning Xu in Designing/Managing International Organizations-1-1-1-1-1-1 (A) taught by ROBERT COSCARELLO, Pepperdine University from
Mar 2020 to Apr 2020.
For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
employees working in the formerly-Soviet states were not actually from the countries in which they
were based. This meant they had to operate in at least three non-native languages.
Khan thought back to his work in business development, where he first led a linguistically and
culturally diverse team. In order to increase levels of communication across his business teams, Khan
felt that they should operate in a common language. He implemented the use of English as a lingua
franca to bring team members onto an even footing. Though it showed early successes, not everyone
embraced the idea. He wondered if he would fare any better with an even larger and more diverse
Time Zones
The group was also diverse in terms of time zones, work week, and holidays. Workers in the United
States, Singapore and Kazakhstan had their weekends on Saturday and Sunday, while Saudi Arabia
and much of the Arab world did not work on Thursday or Friday. This meant that the group’s common
workweek consisted only of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On top of this, the group’s core
operations spanned four different time zones. Plus, different countries had different holidays, and
didn’t always communicate these holidays to the others. When one team member in Dubai tried to
contact another employee in the Philippines, he became frustrated when no one answered his calls, not
realizing the office was closed for a national observance.
National Culture and Age
In addition to the confusion surrounding holidays and schedules, team members also did not fully
understand how diverse they were. When asked how many nationalities were represented in their
group, team members regularly guessed between 10 and 15. Some people did not even know from
which country their teammates came, incorporating them into broad categories like “European.” A
Saudi Arabian team member was assumed to be German, since he had been there for many years, but
he still traveled on his Saudi passport.
Later that day, the human resources officer responsible for the region gave Khan profiles of the
team. His 68 team members represented 27 different countries and ranged in age from 22 to 61 years.
Among them, they spoke 18 different languages and many other dialects (see Exhibit 1).
Shocked by the makeup of his unit, Khan again wondered if he was in over his head. He thought it
would be intriguing to be a part of such a diverse team with so many talents and interesting stories.
But he wondered if the group was just too diverse to function. Its recent failures were still foremost in
his mind.
Conflicting Accounts
Over the past two years, operating margin and net profit margin for the global sales and marketing
team had declined precipitously along with market share (see Exhibits 2 and 3). During the same
period, group morale also dropped, with employee satisfaction declining by nearly half (see Exhibit
4). In order to better understand the group’s weaknesses and the challenges they faced, Khan’s next
step was to meet with the three senior executives. He was by far the youngest person at the meeting
and had no experience on the team.
This document is authorized for use only by Shuning Xu in Designing/Managing International Organizations-1-1-1-1-1-1 (A) taught by ROBERT COSCARELLO, Pepperdine University from
Mar 2020 to Apr 2020.
For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
Market, Compensation, or Brand Changes
He tried to determine whether the group’s problems were internal or external. He asked the three
leaders, “Can the team do better? What’s stopping them from doing better?” Sunil, an Indian national
working in Lebanon, began by blaming the group’s recent failures on the market. “The recent increase
in the price of base oil has been pressuring our margins. 1 When we raised our prices to compensate,
our volumes decreased,” he argued.
Lars, an expat from Sweden, vehemently disagreed, “It has nothing to do with our prices or the
price of oil. It’s our brand! The recent changes to our brand have done nothing but confuse customers.
That’s why we have seen a decline in revenue.” Lars continued with an accusatory tone, “And once
this past year, planned volumes from Nepal and Bangladesh failed to come in, causing performance to
suffer again, not to mention the relationships with our partners in Iran and Yemen.”
Sunil shook his head and ignored Lars. Changing the subject, he said, “We also have the issue of
compensation—the structure recently changed. Eighty percent of our salaries are fixed and the
remaining twenty percent is variable.” Sunil explained that the variable portion was based on volume
and revenue and was not linked to earnings or margins. Thus, when prices went up, salespeople were
able to make their revenue targets selling less volume. Yet the cost of goods sold was increasing, which
further squeezed the margins. Everyone shifted in their seats. Clearly, changing compensation yet
again was not a conversation they wanted to broach.
Target Setting
Ramazan, a Kazakh member of the leadership, interjected, “Let’s not bring up compensation again.
We all know that target-setting is at the root of all this. Setting regional targets from the top-down
hasn’t worked for years.” He explained that global directors broke worldwide sales targets down into
regions, then regional managers further divided the regional target among constituent countries.
Ramazan recalled a target setting meeting in which the business manager for Saudi Arabia refused the
responsibility that came with managing the largest country in the region. He told the group the general
market was doing poorly and that his country team had recently lost two major accounts, so he could
not take the largest portion of the regional sales target, as was expected. Other country managers also
frequently made conservative estimates when setting their own goals, downplaying their true ability.
As a result, unclaimed parts of the regional goal got passed on to new markets that were not yet online
or to countries that were not represented at the meeting. “It seems like no one is willing to take
responsibility for their targets. Everyone is playing it safe, because they don’t want to miss their targets.
How can we accurately set goals if we don’t truly know what each country is capable of?” Ramazan
asked the others.
Khan worried about their staunch disagreements and lack of optimism. In Pakistan, however, Khan
had been on teams that thrived despite the changing market, the new variable pay scale, and the
challenges of the target-setting process. He had transformed his team from a collection of individuals
into a cohesive and successful group, and he was tempted to prove to the Tek executives that he could
do it again with a bigger and more diverse team. Khan believed in the Tek brand and
had confidence in its ability to sell. But Amlak’s advice still made Khan question his ability to succeed
in the role. How could he make sure that he would not end up in Amlak’s shoes?
1 Base oil refers to lubrication-grade oils produced from refining crude oil or through chemical synthesis. Base oils are used to
manufacture lubricants (e.g., motor oils) for consumer and commercial uses.
This document is authorized for use only by Shuning Xu in Designing/Managing International Organizations-1-1-1-1-1-1 (A) taught by ROBERT COSCARELLO, Pepperdine University from
Mar 2020 to Apr 2020.
For the exclusive use of S. Xu, 2020.
(Re)Building a Global Team: Tariq Khan at Tek
Digging for Answers
As the meeting dragged into its sixth hour, Khan kept pondering the explanations for the group’s
poor performance. He continued to push his advisers to go beyond the external factors influencing the
group and give him an honest assessment of the team’s inner dynamics. He looked at the clock—it was
5:00 p.m., and they had been in this meeting since 9:00 that morning. It seemed everyone was repeating
the same points they had made earlier. But for two more hours, he continued to steer the conversation
toward a deeper understanding of why the …
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