Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion!

Hey, My Boss’ Boss is Asking My Opinion! You have been beavering away in the bowels of your company, feeling as if you’ll be stuck in this job forever. Your boss (let’s call him Trevor) is something of a stick-in-the-mud who wants to do things as they’ve always been done. Then one morning, out of the blue, your boss’ boss (Jennifer), appears at your cubicle. Jennifer: Hi, Matt, have you seen Trevor? You: He’ll be in later—something about his daughter. Jennifer: Okay. I wanted to ask about the Waverly contract. Do you think it’s worth going ahead? You: Oh, absolutely. There are huge upsides. Jennifer: Yeah, but some downsides, too. They’re such a new company. You: But with great potential. We could be their supplier of choice as they grow. Jennifer: Yes, that’s a thought….Could you put together the pros and cons—something I can take to the VP? You: Sure, I’ll get right on it. You have died and gone to heaven. Not only does Jennifer know who you are but she’s asked your opinion! This is your chance. You knock off the pros and cons right away and send it to her. Within the hour, she gets back to…

Harmony through Silence

Harmony through Silence An option is always to keep your head down when the big guns of conflict come out. Sometimes silence is a good idea and sometimes not. Let’s talk about this possibility. Why silence is a bad idea You wouldn’t be representing your group well. A potentially good idea will get lost. A sub-optimal solution might be adopted. You might be wimping out by not speaking up. It’s good for the company The reasons above are about the company. That is, if you speak up, the company benefits by getting closer to the right solution. Even the last one fits. You’re wimping out by not helping the company be its best. The organization is usually better off if knowledgeable people occasionally ruffle feathers. But is it good for you? Depends. Depends on how you feel about the issue under discussion. I care deeply. Meaning, it is related to your own values and ethics. Not speaking up will do your sense of self-worth damage. I don’t care. g. a change with no impact, or any solution works for you. You might want some visibility by speaking, but if your comments are seen as disturbing the peace, you might want…

Benefiting from the Need for Harmony

Benefiting from the Need for Harmony In the last post, you attempted to table a proposal but were left hung out to dry. You hadn’t realized that the need for harmony trumped support for a good idea. Are you doomed to let Tod run the show? Not necessarily. You can be aware, respect, and even use the need for harmony. Let’s rewind and redo the meeting. The second meeting (reprise) YOU: I’d like to table my proposal. Tod: We have to deal with Finance’s first. YOU: How about hearing mine so we can compare? (turns to group) Who’s for that? Show of hands. (all hands go up) Tod: (grumpily) Fine. Let’s get it over with. Using the need for harmony Okay, very clever. You used the need for harmony to move your agenda forward by: Sidestepping a direct confrontation. Last time, you went head-to-head with Tod, disturbing the need for harmony and making everyone uncomfortable. They punished you by silence when you needed them to speak. Asking the group for something minor and non-verbal. In addition, rather than asking them to speak and risk Tod’s sharp tongue, you just asked for a show of hands. Much easier, especially if you…

Challenging Fighting Words

Challenging Fighting Words Challenging Tod In the last post, you had an ugly meeting. Tod from Finance tried to grab the whole contracting process and went ballistic when people objected. You’ve had an idea you think would work. But the way things are going, it’s likely to be tough to get the idea heard. What can you do to get your idea heard? If you try to table it over Tod’s singlemindedness, it’s likely to descend into another shouting match. But if you gather support before the meeting, you’ll up your chances of swinging things your way. You spend the rest of the week talking to Sarah, Lilianna, Irwin, and others. They’re reluctant but, in the end, concede that it’s a better idea than Tod’s. You’re pleased. The second meeting YOU: I’d like to propose an approach to meet our needs and still be responsive to customers. Tod: Wait a minute, we didn’t finish discussing Finance’s. YOU: We did discuss it. Tod: No way. All I got was roadblocks. Nobody tried to make it work. YOU: Let me present my idea and then we can compare. Tod: (voice rising) Are you trying to cut Finance out? I bet you want…

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…