Forums

I have encountered a frustating situation in my current job that I have never encountered before. Looking for any advice anyone can offer.

I work with multiple teams to coordinate and manage schedules. This requires me to coordinate across many teams on deliveries and a workplan.

I have one team who consistently comes back after the fact and denies agreeing to dates/projects. I document every meeting and share the meeting minutes/agreements with all of the participants.

In spite of this I am sitting again today in a meeting with this team saying they never agreed to the plan and in fact were never in the meeting. They are getting in front of executives and basically accusing me of being a liar or of not communicating appropriately.

I have had others corroborate my version of events on some of these occasions including the latest. I have produced the meeting notes/agreements to back up my point. This is ignored by these people. They do not acknowledge it.

I am stuck on how to have a meaningful working arrangement with these people and how I can count on any agreement with them holding.
I don't want to be in this position again. I feel it is damaging my reputation.

Any advice?

canario's picture

Have them agree on a paper / email and then archive it... Never ever get rid of it. Nothing is more convincing that a written contract - even though it might not look too formal.

daniel1961's picture

I've done that and when I produce the document they deny all knowledge.

canario's picture

I'm afraid I simply cannot imagine this. They've agreed to something on a paper (or in a mail), you are able to produce the proof on demand (you have the copy) and they still deny the fact it happened and you have not succeeded in convincing others?

If this is the case then I'm sorry I am not able to help you.

TomW's picture

Produce the written agreement in front of the executives and let the group try to deny it.

US41's picture

You need to add a step in your project management process: having the schedule sent out in writing and asking for approvals and acceptance from all stakeholders.

If you do not receive word back from them, send out an email again, this time to them, their management, and your management that the project is blocked and now in YELLOW status because "the a team" or whatever they are called has failed to approve the schedule and accept the project intake.

If that situation continues, then a day or two later, after calling them to warn them, publish the email out much higher to a wide distribution list and list the project in RED status and state that management intervention is required or the project will be delivered LATE due to their delay.

When you get the approvals, make sure they are from the leadership of that team as well as the project participant, so they cannot come back and say the wrong person approved or was not authorized (that will be next in their list of excuses).

It's not fun, but it is necessary, and the ability to use documentation and approvals to lock down requirements, designs, and schedules is absolutely necessary in a low-trust/no-trust environment.

mkirk's picture

Hi Daniel,

Sounds like you've got a really tough one here, it can't be easy to deal with. Couple of things stand out for me, I'm not sure I'm right or that you'll like them, but I hope they'll help you find a solution quickly.

Firstly, you are spot on about the effect on your reputation (and theirs) if you and they are publicly accusing each other of lying about something as black and white as who was at a meeting. Absolute kiss of death, in my opinion, and I don't think it matters who is actually right - both sides will be seen to have been promoted above their level of professional competence.

Secondly, might there be a serious relationship issue here - the situation as I understand it could very easily end some careers, so someone has got to be mighty pee'd off to act like this. You're the only one who knows the people, but unless the underlying relationships can be sorted out, I would start updating my CV - it's that damaging.

I would start working real hard on your relationship with these guys, damp down the fire and find out what their beef is. I'm not so worried about their future, but I think yours is on the line if this carries on. And no, it won't be easy, sorry.

Good luck, I really hope it works out for you.
Matt

daniel1961's picture

I thank everyone for their thoughts and concerns on this topic. I went back and talked to the supervisor of the person who was making the statements. I shared the documentation with him and he was involved in a couple of discussions between all parties involved.

The supervisor came back and apologized for the behavior of his person and acknowledged that the behavior was inappropriate. I shared with him the original documentation as well as the second email I sent reminding all of the agreements. He indicated that the documentation produced was key to putting this right. Otherwise it would have been one person's word against another.

A good reinforcement to always document meeting participation, agreements and action items and publish the info to all of the involved parties.

This incident caused some light bulbs to go on with some of the exec team as far as what was going on with this team. I believe some org changes (involving the team who made the accusation) are coming about as a result of this incident. While I wish it didn't have to come to this, the truth won out in the end.

I will continue to do everything humanly possible to foster a positive relationship with this group/person and to avoid any future 'misunderstandings'.

thaGUma's picture

I am glad things are working out Daniel. Reading the start of your cast I was surprised how the rogue team managed to flip their failure to meet programme with allegations that you were not clear in anticipated delivery times.

While some may moan about not accepting deadlines, it is irrelvant to delivery.

Chris

HMac's picture

[quote="daniel1961"]I went back and talked to the supervisor of the person who was making the statements. I shared the documentation with him and he was involved in a couple of discussions between all parties involved.

The supervisor came back and apologized for the behavior of his person and acknowledged that the behavior was inappropriate. I shared with him the original documentation as well as the second email I sent reminding all of the agreements. He indicated that the documentation produced was key to putting this right. Otherwise it would have been one person's word against another.[/quote]

Good moves, Daniel.

Keep the supervisors in the loop - because this ain't over until there's behavioral change by the team.

Sounds like you're making progress - thanks to your professionalism.

-Hugh

ericthornton43's picture

I had a similar problem with a similar solution.

I'm in charge of an industrial engineering department. Our job is to put new production lines on the floor, and then get them signed-off by the quality department in order to start production. During the whole line development and installation process, we'd have no participation from these guys (in spite of many invitations), and then on the day before start-up, they just walk out there and say "Nope, don't like it, rejected."

So now every part of the plan and the details of the line get documented and we make them sign it. It's amazing how interested they got in the project once they had to put their name on it!