Fighting Words

Fighting Words Fighting words to streamline a process Your boss has chosen you to represent Customer Relations in a cross-departmental group to streamline a process. Things have come to a head because your biggest customer is threatening to use a competitor if your company can’t fix the slow process. You expect some fighting to get it done. The first meeting Tod (Finance): The solution is clear. Finance taking the lead will speed things up a whole lot. YOU: How do you figure? Tod: We write the contract and give final approval. If we had the whole thing, it’d be done in no time. Sarah: Without Ops input? When we have to deliver what you negotiate? Tod: We can’t have a million approvals. We have the budget, so we have most at stake. Sarah: So do we. If you negotiate below costs, we’re in trouble. Tod: (face gets red) Why would we negotiate a contract that hurts the company? Sarah: I didn’t mean— Tod: Finance guys are killing themselves and you’re saying we’d purposely do you in. YOU: I’m sure that’s not what Sarah meant, Tod. We’d just like some input. Tod: Customer Relations! Why are you even here? You’re irrelevant…

Getting Collaboration Right

Getting Collaboration Right  Your group didn’t get a report in on time and you need to figure out what caused the lack of collaboration. You want to challenge the assumption that the most important thing is getting along. Raising the issue with Megan and Jean won’t be an easy conversation but it’s necessary. Challenging the lack of collaboration YOU: So, guys, I wanted to talk about the report not going out last week. Expect avoidance Jean: But it went the Tuesday after so no harm done. YOU:  I’d like to discuss why it didn’t go on Friday. Expect sniping Megan: (undertone) Because the data weren’t there. Jean: I heard that! YOU: Let’s stick to the issue. Jean, you didn’t get the data to Megan on Wednesday. Why? Jean: I wanted to make it right. YOU: Megan needed it. Expect defensiveness Jean: Crummy research can’t go out! YOU: But what could you have done? Jean: Huh? Suggest solutions the first time YOU: Why not tell Megan you were going to be late? Jean: She knew when it didn’t arrive. Megan:  I needed a heads up. Jean: Wouldn’t have made a difference. YOU: But you two might have worked something to meet…

Getting Along Can Do You In—The Need for Harmony

Getting Along Can Do You In—The Need for Harmony The need for harmony Having harmony in your working life is a good thing, as is a harmonious personal life. It is stressful, unpleasant, and even injurious to your health to work in tension or conflict. A group which gets along is usually more productive. However, the need for harmony can sometimes be so overwhelming that everything else goes out the window—such as being innovative, avoiding failure, or telling the truth. Let’s use the example below to explore this. Missing data The executive group reviews the strategic plan annually. You supervise putting together the report. You research trends, gather data, and model different scenarios for the plan. Your meeting with Jean, your employee You: Jean, have you seen how Megan’s company did their report? I like it. I think we should use it this year. Jean: Hey, we took over Megan’s company. She should do it our way. You: We should use what’s best from both. Jean: (Silence) You: Anyhow, because Megan is with us, we can spread out the work. Jean: She’s three hours behind us. It’ll be impossible to work together. You: There’s a way it might. You like…

Consequences of Taking a Stand

Consequences of Taking a Stand Sometimes, you must speak up to maintain self-worth. In previous posts, we’ve discussed how to do that. However, no matter how successfully you pilot through your initial conversation, there will be consequences which you need to prepare for and accept as part and parcel of deciding to speak out. Consequences you might face Depends on your boss and how open your company is to change. The following list is generally in order of severity. What consequences you have to undergo will depend on how big the problem that you raise and how much your boss and/or company wants to avoid dealing with it. This list is adapted from the one published in Creating the Innovation Culture: Leveraging Visionaries Dissenters and Other Useful Troublemakers in Your Organization, Chapter Five. Ignore. Silence—a powerful weapon. When you raise the issue, no one replies. The conversation continues as if you’d never spoken. Made invisible. Funny things start to happen. Somehow, your name gets left off distribution lists. Important and interesting work is re-assigned. Decisions are taken without your input. Forbid. If you continue to push your unpopular views, your boss will say: “Focus on assigned projects, not on the…

How to Take a Stand or Challenge Convention

How to Take a Stand or Challenge Convention Whether you take a stand on something is entirely up to you.  Only you can decide that. But how you challenge convention can lower or increase the chances of continuing to earn a pay check. Plan Don`t do a spur of the moment, blow your gasket thing. It`s too important. Take a moment to think through what to say. Be clear. Sometimes, moral outrage can be diffuse. What exactly is bothering you? Is it the problem or the cover-up? Can be both but get it clear in your mind. Limit the scope. `You always do that!` is not a way to create the right conditions. There may be various transgressions but either find an umbrella term (e.g. management style) and use the various issues as examples, or cite the most egregious item to focus on.   Plan the conversation. You can’t determine exactly how the conversation will go. But keep the key points in mind: A concise and clear statement of the concern Any hard facts you can use to support your contention The resolution (specifics, please) which would satisfy you The conversation to challenge the status quo As discussed previously, pick…