The Case of Unreliable Genius

I am starting a case study series. I present a case and hope that we can learn from each other’s responses.


Sanjay walked into Priya office agitated. Without waiting for Priya to get off the phone completely he started,

“Boss, Nitin hasn’t come to office again today, and he is not taking any calls either. How can I complete the project like this?”

Priya tried to calm him down. “Slow down. What happened?”

“You know how Nitin is. He wasn’t in office most of last week and today again he hasn’t turned up. He promised he would come in today. And what’s worst he isn’t picking up his phone either.”

“What happened last week?” Priya asked, again trying to calm Sanjay down.

“He said he was unwell or something. I mean he is so unreliable. I just can’t plan any tasks with him. He is always unwell.”

“But he is good at what he does isn’t it” Priya said. “I mean the customers love him, he is able to convince them so easily. And he can handle tough customers too you know.”

“Ya I know but he can do that IF and WHEN is around. What use are his skills if he is so unreliable. I just can’t deal with him anymore.” Sanjay continued to be agitated.

“So how will we complete this project? You know he is a critical person on this project. He’s been on the project since the beginning. The client also insists that Nitin stays on the project, you know how it is.” Priya tried to reason with Sanjay.

“All that is fine but that doesn’t mean that we will continue to be blackmailed by his behaviour. I mean we have a deliverable today. The whole team worked so hard over the weekend and now he just isn’t to be found. Not even the courtesy to call and let us know.” Sanjay said unrelenting.


Nitin is very skilled. When given a task, he completes it with ease and to utmost client satisfaction. However he is unreliable with his availability to the team and meeting internal deadlines. He is also not contactable at times without any notice. What do you think Sanjay, a project manager, should do to work better with Nitin? Priya is Sanjay and Nitin’s supervisor. She knows that Nitin can be a key contributor to the team’s success. She has spoken with Nitin in the past about his unreliability. What should Priya do now?