I have super-sonic hearing and I sit in Cubicle Hell which means I hear many, many things.

Yesterday, while I was doing my own thing, I was overhearing a "team huddle" or meeting one of my colleagues was conducting with her team of 14. I was trying to tune out the chatter but it was difficult because they were discussing Project Tracking. My new team doesn't deal with Project Tracking however six weeks ago, I was on the front lines and tasked with doing the very thing B was talking to her people about so it was 'of interest' to me.

That said, at a certain point, I heard her get a tiny bit stern with a comment along the lines of "Guys, we need to move along here because we only have a half hour and we have a lot of ground to cover."

She has been a manager for about 2 months longer than I have - at this company. Prior to here, she was a high school Latin teacher whereas I was a manager.

Basically, she set a landmine for herself and it has blown up in her face today.

She got a call from 1 of her 14 people basically saying that B had implied they "don't work hard enough!" and "You have to be logged on at 8 and you really have to adhere to your 8-to-5 schedule."

What she actually told them was that "Time logging on and off isn't considered time-worked so don't log it."

B spoke up to G (another manager colleague who's been a manager here for 4 yrs) and her inclination was to have another team huddle to set the record straight - that she meant from an overtime legality perspective instead of from the (actual topic at hand) project tracking perspective -- where do the associates spend their time.

I chimed in at that point and suggested that instead of doing a team thing again, she might want to consider individual conversations to get more real, deep feedback instead of "stop thinking that way!" (Which was a snark back toward our shared boss who said that to her once ... "That's not where we're coming from. They have to stop thinking that way." B was a bit torqued when he said that & we had chatted about that earlier so I think it caught her attention when I suggested that another team meeting today would be akin to "stop thinking that way.")

B also said she was going to start by calling the one who's feelings were most likely hurt by the communication blunder. Again I suggested that she start with the least likely to be offended folks to gather more data so that once she gets to the offended folks, she has a better sense of what's going on.

She has now spent 3+ hours on the phone trying to smooth things over with her 14 DR's.

Sure enough, at the tail end of this drama today, her conversation patter has shifted to include "I've recently found out that ya'll had a checklist about all of this already and this was already covered in the past and I hadn't realized that." So by the time she got to the last few folks, the conversations went much more smoothly.

At least B is saying that she's considering this to be a valuable learning experience and that she's going to re-examine her meeting structures -- fewer agenda items, better job of setting the stage, increased frequencies, etc.

[ Meanwhile, I'm over here kicking myself for once again stepping in. I have GOT to stop trying to save her from herself. My husband keeps reminding me that I'm in direct competition with her and I have to stop dragging her butt out of the fire. ]

Anyway, I think she could have saved herself a few hours of hassle & aggravation if she had said instead "I was just planning to disseminate information rather than engage in a dialogue and it sounds like we would benefit from a dialogue so how about we talk about this offline afterward? We've only scheduled 30 mins for this and I know some people have other meetings scheduled directly after this."

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

B made the mistake of assuming that the other 14 DR's were on the exact same page as she was and steamrolled right over them, dismissing things out of hand because it didn't apply to her world view.

HMac's picture

Ash - great story.

Most of the way through, I was thinking "mind your own business!" and "get a pair of headphones!" - but I'll shut up.

Your help was well-received - and I think that counts for something.

And you yourself are concerned about not meddling - so you've probably got a good handle on how much is too much.

And while your husband is right in some respects, I'll suggest another view. That person may or may not be a rival to you in the eyes of those who matter. Just because you're organizationally "rivals" doesn't mean that higher-ups can't distinguish between the two of you.

And giving a helping hand to someone now may pay great dividends in the future. She may work for you; you may work for her. In either case, she'll remember your support.


basking2's picture

Hugh makes an excellent point that division almost guarantees that there will be no future opportunity. In reality, there are never strict rivals (I've been known to root for the BoSox once in a while), just opportunities and limited resources. You try to earn what you can but there is always another opportunity down the road. Building relationships can bring you more opportunities.

Enough of that. What I really wanted to say was that business aside (because at the end of the day we are all people) you can never go wrong helping someone else out, and kudos for apparently doing it such that you weren't perceived to have "meddled." Personally, I value very very highly personal integrity and real concern for others. I want to work with those types of people. That fact that you helped when there is a possible conflict over a future opportunity, I think, speaks very well of you.

Now I have to go back to working in an organization where people don't document because, rather than help the organization function better, they want to build perceived indispensability. Petty self-focus that only limits their own potential. I think Eff. Exec. talks on the second page of being organizationally focused and not self focused.