Li Fen: The Plight of an HR Manager

Research output: Other contributionCase Studies


This case describes the plight of Li Fen, a human resources (HR) manager. In 2008, Li began working as a management trainee at Company A, a smartphone manufacturer. After landing a formal job at the company, she handled HR and administrative tasks for a new project and a big company project that had encountered some difficulties. She handled both projects effectively due to her self-discipline and strong work ethic. Nevertheless, she found it difficult to get along well with her colleagues, including superiors, peers, and subordinates, who frequently complained about her, and they even got into heated arguments. She had never considered that interpersonal relationships could get in the way of her work. Disheartened, she returned to company headquarters to enhance her professional skillset. However, would better professional skills alone help her deal with these interpersonal issues? People often joked that Li had low emotional intelligence (EQ), but she could never quite put her finger on the problem. In the past, she had believed that work was just about getting things done and that managers should not preoccupy themselves with other people's emotions or show empathy to others. Now, however, she began to question this assumption: Could it be that EQ was actually critical in the workplace, and in that case, how could she improve her EQ to forge stronger interpersonal relationships?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

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Case type

Field Case

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Published by

China Europe International Business School


  • Emotional Intelligence
  • leadership
  • out-of-control behavior

Case studies discipline

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Human Resource Management

Case studies industry

  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation and Warehousing


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