I’d Never Lie—Would I?

I’d Never Lie—Would I? You’d never lie, would you? Consider this scenario. You manage a software development group which has a multi-year project. It’s been one disaster after another. The first year, the client kept changing the specs. By the time that was sorted, you were almost six weeks behind. In the second year, the programmers ran into all kinds of problems not foreseen by the (now fired) systems architect. The programming started almost three months late. However, some simplification of the Years Three to Five plans should get you back on track by mid-Year Five. But the mid-term review is coming up. You meet with your boss, Rhonda, to discuss. Rhonda: Paul, I’m really worried about your report. You: I know it looks bad now but we can catch up by Year Five. Rhonda: But what if the executive committee doesn’t buy that? They’ll shut us down. Which means lay-offs. All your guys, I’d expect. You: (desperately) I’m sure we can make up the time. We just need the rest of the funding. Rhonda: I’ve got to take something more positive to the executive committee. Otherwise, we can kiss both our careers good-bye. You leave the meeting frustrated and,…

Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Work

Making a Decision with Power Undercurrents at Work 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…

Managing Power Undercurrents in a Budget Meeting

Managing Power Undercurrents in a Budget Meeting In a previous post, you tried to get the budget for a new project but got snookered by the others at the meeting (your boss Alicia and your peer managers, Dante and Marguerite). Is there any way you could have better the outcome of having to fund the project from your existing budget? Preparing to meet power undercurrents There is a charming, naïve and completely wrong idea that, even with important issues, you can wing it. You can’t. Just hoping for the best is not a plan. You need to think through the issue before you engage with others who also have a stake in the outcome of the discussion. I don’t say that you have to do this for every meeting, but you need to in the case we’re talking about, you probably do. Budget, and its discussions, is pointy end of the spear in any organization. Everyone will arrive ready to defend their piece of it and, if possible, increase it. The power undercurrent will be running fast and strong. You’ll get swept under unless you prepare yourself. Questions to ask yourself before the budget meeting In the earlier post, you…

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 2 of 2 You (Galen) have to re-allocate your budget to fund a new service which allows customers to design their own greeting cards. You will have to take money from the budgets of the other supervisors (Sarah and Neil), to reallocate to Mike who will head up the new service. You meet with all the supervisors to discuss how to do this. The tough discussion You: Okay, guys, Alicia doesn’t have enough to fund the new service from her budget, so we need to come up with half of the money.   Sarah: You mean you’re going to cut us? You need to expect protest and let it run for a bit. Dale: No way, Galen, I’m under-funded as it is.   You: I’m sorry but we need to do this. But I won’t make the decision until after I’ve heard your views. This is very important to say. In the heat of the moment, they may try to take over the decision. Dale: Well, why did you pick Mike to begin with? I could have done as good a job. You are paying for the old sin of not choosing Mike…

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2 In the last post, you tried to get money for the new project only to find yourself outmaneuvered and forced to find half of it within your existing budget. That is, you must take money from your other two units to give to Mike. There are basically three options for deciding how the money will be moved. The following table gives you their pros and cons. Options Pros Cons Option 1: You decide ·       Quick ·       Efficient ·       Bigger picture will be kept in mind ·       Don’t have to deal with supervisors jockeying for position (i.e. power undercurrent) ·       May not be effective as you may not understand the details of each unit enough to reallocate the money correctly ·       May anger/alienate some/all of your staff Option 2: Supervisors decide ·       Everybody gets heard ·       New solutions might be tabled ·       Transparent ·       Lose control of the outcome ·       Will take longer to decide ·       Not all relevant factors may be considered Option 3: Supervisors discuss; you decide ·       Keep control of the process ·       Everybody gets heard ·       New solutions might be tabled ·       Transparent ·       All relevant factors…