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The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of the Tim Keller at Katzenbach Partners LLC case study. Tim Keller is a new employee at Katzenbach Partners, which is a management consultancy firm. In this regard, the first part of the analysis will focus on Tim Keller and Katzenbach where he is working as a consultant. The second part of the analysis will focus on the performance of Keller and the challenges he faced in his new job. Finally, recommendations will be made based on the outcome of the analysis of the case study.

Analysis of the Case Study

Tim Keller’s Career Objective

Wemer, Schuler and Jackson (2012, p. 117) define career objective as a personalized declaration that defines the goals that a person intends to achieve by pursuing a particular profession. In this regard, having a clear career objective is essential in identifying the right job or profession. However, Keller did not have a clear career objective due to his multiple professional interests. In particular, he aspired to develop a career in different areas, which included politics, international development, banking, and management. Despite not having a clear career objective, Keller was able to identify the attributes of his ideal job. These included flexibility, participation in decision-making initiatives, interpersonal interactions, and limited office time. Thus, Keller’s frequent change of careers in different organizations can be explained in part by his desire to achieve the aforementioned attributes, as well as, his lack of a clear career objective. Moreover, Keller’s frustrations at Katzenbach can be attributed to the fact that his new job did not provide him with adequate flexibility and the opportunity to participate in decision-making initiatives, which mattered a lot to him. For instance, the job required much of his time and he was denied an opportunity to attend a meeting in which important decisions about his models would be made.

Keller’s Educational Background

Keller’s diverse professional aspirations were well matched to his educational background. Studying art history and political economy provided him with the knowledge he required to pursue a successful political career. Additionally, studying finance and business development provided Keller with the knowledge he needed to pursue a career in various areas including business management, consultancy, and international development. Ultimately, Keller required adequate experience in order to find the right job.

Work Experience

Keller’s aspiration to pursue different professions was supported by his education background and diverse work experience. He was likely to succeed in politics due to his work experience in the Senate, both in the United States and in New Mexico. Keller’s achievements at Katzenbach can be attributed to his prior work experience as a process consultant and an analyst in the investment banking industry. In this regard, he is likely to have combined his analytical skills with his experience in consultancy to create value at Katzenbach. Furthermore, Keller’s experience as a manager at Digital Divide Data improved his management, teamwork, and leadership skills. According to Mathis and Jackson (2011, p. 79), diverse work experience facilitates acquisition of transferable skills that enable employees to fit easily in challenging work environment. In this context, Keller owes much of his ability to meet the needs in the job market to his work experience.

Job Market Needs

The management consulting industry provided challenging job opportunities that required diverse skills and experience. At the entry level, the basic skills that a new hire required included analytical skills, being a team player, ability to work in different industries, and research skills. Though Keller had most of these skills, he found it difficult to work in different industries. For instance, he could not easily complete his assignments in the mobile communications project due to his limited knowledge of the telecommunication industry.

Katzenbach Partners

The company had an effective organizational culture that helped it to achieve its strategy of being a different consulting firm. The company’s organizational culture promoted flexibility and upholding the values that were important to the management. The strength of a value-driven organizational culture is that it helps employees to connect with the company’s vision and mission through shared values (Katsioloudes 2006, p. 81). The resulting increase in commitment and harmony among employees enhances the performance of the firm. By promoting a work-life balance culture, the company was able to satisfy the needs of employees such as Keller who were interested in flexible work schedules. According to Wemer, Schuler and Jackson (2012, p. 167), work-life balance is one of the main strategies for improving the performance of employees. This is because it helps to reduce workplace stress and burnout. Additionally, it enables employees to have time for their personal interests such as attending to their families.

The company’s human resource management strategy focused on development and variable career progression. The strength of this strategy is that it would enable employees to fit into the organization and to develop their careers at their own pace. For instance, the onboard programs enabled new hires to learn the company’s values, which in turn guided their performance. Similarly, provision of employee support services through the ‘people team’ promoted career development. For instance, Keller was able to access the support of new team members who enabled him to complete his assignments. The disadvantage of the variable career progression strategy is that some employees can underestimate their abilities. Consequently, they will take longer to move up the corporate ladder or to develop their careers.

The company’s reward system was based on meritocracy. Katsioloudes (2006, p. 92) defines meritocracy as a reward system in which employees are rewarded according to their effort. The rationale of this strategy is that linking rewards to employees’ abilities and achievements motivates them to improve their performance. However, meritocracy has several disadvantages. First, merit may not be defined properly by the organization. Thus, rewards may be distributed to the undeserving employees (Mathis & Jackson 2011, p. 102). For instance, consultants who were able to work on difficult projects were assigned more responsibilities at Katzenbach. In this regard, other important performance measures such as employee commitment were disregarded. Second, meritocracy can cause inequality in the organization because only the best performers are rewarded. Finally, meritocracy encourages rivalry and disharmony among employees as they compete for rewards (Mathis & Jackson 2011, p. 103). This explains the mistrust between Keller and Anderson. In particular, Keller was not comfortable with reporting to Anderson who had just been promoted, despite being younger and having worked for the company for only one year.

Ketzenbach’s organizational structure was also ineffective since it provide junior consultants with little opportunities for progression. This problem was exacerbated by the difficulties that junior consultants faced as they tried to create value for the company in order to be promoted.


First, Keller should develop a clear career objective in order to find the right or the most satisfying job. After defining his career objectives, he should identify a clear career path to follow. For instance, if he intends to develop a long-term career as a consultant, he should develop short-term, medium term and long-term objectives to guide his progression. Unlike Keller’s strategy that begins with the identification of the attributes of an ideal job, starting with a clear career objective helps in avoiding the risk of joining the wrong profession (Wemer, Schuler & Jackson 2012, p. 192).

Second, Katzenbach Partners should substitute meritocracy with a reward system that addresses all the four elements of an effective reward system. These include “compensation, benefits, recognition, and appreciation” (Wemer, Schuler & Jackson 2012, p. 214). An effective system should reward employees for their performance and behavior. Rewarding performance encourages employees to improve their effort, whereas rewarding behavior improves organizational culture, which in turn enhances employees’ achievements (Witcher & Chau 2010, p. 67). Similarly, recognition and appreciation are important since they enhance employees’ satisfaction and commitment to the company.

Finally, Katzenbach should improve the project-team structure in order to provide junior consultants with opportunities for progression. In particular, the project-team structure should be modified in a manner that provides junior consultants with opportunities for promotion or to take additional responsibilities.

Effectiveness of Tim Keller

Keller’s effectiveness during his first few months at Katzenbach can be measured by his achievements and failures. To begin with, Keller’s lack of experience in the telecommunication industry made it difficult for him to add value in the competitive-analysis project. Nonetheless, he was able to improve his knowledge of the industry through personal reading.

Keller was not able to approach Kenny to discuss the challenges he was experiencing in the new project. Despite being in the project for three weeks, Keller had no meaningful output to present to his boss concerning his progress with the competitive-analysis assignment. Moreover, his participation in project-team meetings was not effective. This is because his contributions in the meetings did not add much value to the clients and his peers.

Despite his initial failures, Keller’s performance began to improve through the support provided by Matt Anderson. Under Anderson’s guidance, Keller managed to understand and to apply the procedures of conducting competitive analyses. Besides, he was able to work for longer hours in order to achieve his targets in time. Keller’s performance continued to improve through the support of Alec King and Henning Hagen. Working with these consultants enabled him to access the knowledge and expertise that he needed to complete his assignments. Though Keller’s leadership skills were effective, he was not patient enough to enable his team members to achieve their objectives appropriately. Generally, Keller’s effectiveness was low during the first few months. However, he steadily improved his performance.

The Upcoming Meeting

Keller should not attend the meeting because he was not invited. Attending the meeting without permission will be a show of indiscipline and may strain the work relationship between him and Kurtzman. Besides, he does not understand what his role will be if he attends the meeting. In this regard, he will not add any value if he is not able to perform any task assigned to him during the meeting. Additionally, attending the meeting and not being able to answer questions about the model will be an embarrassment to Keller and the company. This is likely to affect his self-esteem and the image of the company negatively.

Keller can address the questions that are likely to be asked about the model in various ways. First, he can create time before the meeting to discuss the competitive-dynamics model with Kurtzman. This will give him the opportunity to answer some of the questions that are likely to be asked during the meeting. Second, Keller can seek assurance from his team members that they will address the questions effectively in order to satisfy the clients. The rationale of this option is that most team members such as Sullo and Anderson have a better understanding, as well as, the skills and experience that are required to develop the model. In this regard, they can use their expertise to improve the model during the Sunday meeting. Finally, Keller can wait for the Sunday meeting to end and obtain feedback from the participants on how to improve the model before its presentation to the clients on Monday. Similarly, he can use the feedback from the Monday meeting to improve the model. In both cases, he should collaborate with the rest of the team to refine the model in time.

If I were in Keller’s Shoes

Keller’s main dilemma was choosing between going and not going for the Sunday meeting. Additionally, he wondered whether he had chosen the right job and the right industry. In this regard, I would consider these dilemmas to be the normal challenges associated with adjusting to a new career. I would consider the competitive-dynamic analysis project as a learning opportunity and a measure of my ability to fit in the new job. As a new hire, I would not expect the model to be perfect due to the limited experience and expertise that I had when developing it. However, I would learn from the mistakes identified in the project in order to improve my analytical skills.

Having worked at the company for only two months it would be too early to reconsider my decision to take up the new job. According to Mathis & Jackson (2011, p. 119), adjusting to the challenges of a new career may take longer than expected. In this regard, I would focus on addressing the challenges of the new job rather than reconsidering my decision to join the firm. In order to achieve this objective, I would employ three strategies. First, I would focus on building formal and informal interpersonal relationships with colleagues at the workplace (Mathis & Jackson 2011, p. 121). This would enable me to access advice from my peers concerning the challenges of my new job. Second, I would focus on improving my performance. This would involve active participation in teamwork in order to learn from experienced consultants. Additionally, I would request for a mentor to guide me in the initial stages of developing my career as a consultant. Finally, I would focus on improving my fit in the organization by internalizing its values and culture (Witcher & Chau 2010, p. 147).

The Lessons that Keller Should Learn

First, Keller should learn that having a clear career objective is central to the choice of the right job or profession. Choosing the right job could have been less stressful if he had a clear objective for developing his career in the long-term. Second, he should learn that patience is important in enhancing performance in every job. In particular, he should learn to be patient and address his challenges rather than worrying about his contribution to the organization.

Third, Keller should understand the importance of teamwork in the development of his career. For instance, the support he received from his new team members enabled him to improve his performance. Finally, Keller should learn that adjusting to a new job is always challenging. This is because every job has its technicalities, which may not be addressed immediately by a new employee (Witcher & Chau 2010, p. 172). Additionally, every organization has its unique culture and values that determine the ease with which new hires or employees adjust to their jobs.


The purpose of this paper was to analyze the case study of Tim Keller at Katzenbach. Keller had appropriate educational background and work experience. However, he lacked a clear career objective to guide his choice of the most satisfying job. Nonetheless, he joined Katzenbach as a consultant because the opportunity provided him with flexibility and a chance to influence decisions. In order to succeed in his new job, Keller should concentrate on improving his performance by learning from his colleagues or a mentor. Additionally, he should give himself more time to adjust to the new job before evaluating his performance.


Katsioloudes, M 2006, Strategic Management, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Mathis, R & Jackson, J 2011, Human Resource Management, Cengage Learning, London.

Wemer, S, Schuler, R & Jackson, S 2012, Human Resource Management, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Witcher, B & Chau, V 2010, Strategic Management: Principles and Practice, Cengage Learning, London.

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