Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Work

July 9, 2018

Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Workdecision

In the previous post, knowing that the upcoming budget meeting was going to be contentious, you prepared for it by working through how to deal with any issues which might be raised. This recognizes the undercurrent of keeping or increasing power which is underlying the decision.

Just as a reminder: YOU are Galen, Alicia is your boss, and Dante and Marguerite are your peer managers.

Working with undercurrents in making the decision

Let’s run through how the meeting might go and how YOU can apply your prep to the situation.

Alicia: Okay, next item: funding Galen’s project.  
You: Just before we start, could I review what my team has come to understand are the real benefits of this project for the company? (And then outline them). Take charge by using some of your prep work
Alicia: So how much do you think you’ll need?  
You: About 500K.  
Dante:  Wow, that’s a lot! They are going to say that no matter what
You: About half is for software development, and about (outline breakdown of costs). Bolster the feeling that you have a handle on this although expect some picking at the figures which I won’t cover here
Marguerite: Well, where is it going to come from?  
You: I was hoping from your special projects fund, Alicia.  
Alicia: That would pretty much clear it out. And that’s not what it’s for. Still, I maybe could give you half of what you need. Well, you tried. Might have been a bit of a Hail Mary anyway.
Marguerite: So where’s the rest coming from? Surely not from us, Alicia!  
You: I know that it will be a hit on our budgets to share the costs, but Marg, you’ve wanted to borrow Angela to revamp your monitoring system. Could I lend you her to offset some of the pain? Don’t pretend that the cost to the others is negligible. It will just make you unpopular. If you can, offer a trade
Marguerite: That’s not going to offset a budget cut.  
Dante: Alicia, you can’t be serious—I’m down to the bone already!  
You: But there is such a big upside potential for the company and for all of us. If you can’t think of an offset, you need to go into sales mode
Dante: Yeah, that’s the future. I’m talking about the here and now.  
You: Well, I was thinking I could take on the bulk of the costs. How about 70 for each of you and 110 for me? Propose an amount which is less than what you can afford
Dante: No, that’s still too much. Fifty is the most I could go. They are negotiating!
Marguerite: Yeah, at most.  
Alicia: Shall we split the difference? Sixty from each of you?  
Marguerite and Dante: (grumble, grumble).  
Alicia: Okay, so it’s settled. Two-fifty from me, 60 each from Marguerite and Dante and 130 from you, Galen.  

Well, perhaps not all of what you wanted but a better outcome than the last time where you ended having to fund half of the project entirely on your own.

Understanding and managing the power/control undercurrents operating won’t assure your complete success but you may be able to better your chances of coming closer to your goal.

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