Conflicting Orders—Follow the Big Boss

August 27, 2017

Conflicting Orders—Follow the Big Boss

In the last post, you went to an inspiring all-staff meeting where the CEO, Ms. Danvers, encouraged everyone to work across silos to create greater team work. You think it’s a great idea although your boss Sean seems neutral. But your buddy Ethan from another unit (silo) of the company is also enthusiastic and suggests you work together on a great new app.

You really believe in the CEO’s message so you agree to start work on the project.

For the next couple of weeks, you work hard on it and you’re getting excited about its potential. It’s taken more time than anticipated but you figure with one last push, you’ll at least have a demo. You can imagine the CEO using your work and Ethan’s as an example of cross-silo teamwork


However, at the beginning of the third week, Sean leans over your cubicle wall.

Sean: Hey, Ange, I was expecting the Houston redesign on Friday. What’s up?
You: Oh, sorry, Sean, it’s taking longer than expected. I should have it to you by the end of the week.
Sean: But what about the Kowallski project for this week? It’s due by Friday, too.
You: I know—I’ll get them both done.
Sean: Okay. I know you’re pretty good with managing your time but it seems like a lot in one week.
You: No, I’m sure I can get it done.

Needless to say, you burn a lot of midnight oil. Even so, Ethan is giving you the gears because you’re not doing your part of the commuter app. But by Friday, you deliver both the Houston and Kowallski projects. You flake out over the weekend.

Monday afternoon, Sean calls you into his office. As you enter, you can see he’s got the Houston redesign on his screen.

Sean: Ange, what the hell? The redesign is a bunch of crap. What’s with you?
You: I didn’t think it was that bad.
Sean: Your solution for the front-end is ham-fisted and you didn’t address the transition sequence problem.
You: Gosh, sorry, Sean. I guess I goofed. I’ll fix it.
Sean: This isn’t like you, Ange. I noticed that you sent this one at 3:00 a.m. How come you’re so backed up?
You: I’ll get it fixed.
Sean: Not good enough. What’s going on?
You: Ah, it’s just that Ethan—he’s from Unit 5, you know—he and I have been working on a really cool commuter app.
Sean: Who gave you permission for that?
You: Well, the CEO—
Sean: Didn’t I tell you to stick to your job?
You: Yes, but—
Sean: Don’t give me that. I told you not to go flying off the handle.
You: But the CEO—
Sean: Don’t CEO me. You do the work I give you and that’s that.

So, you have royally pissed off your boss and also have done shoddy work which is bound to be reflected in this year’s bonus. Not to mention damaging your reputation for high quality work. Would it have been better to ask Sean to begin with, even though you know he’s not enthusiastic? Next post.

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