Have you ever had problems meeting a schedule because of the non-responsiveness of people outside your department, outside your division, or outside your company? When your priorities differ from the priorities of the people you depend on, your work and your projects can suffer. Sometimes this can feel like a trap.
When your priorities differ
from the priorities
projects can sufferI've felt trapped many times. And I've learned that it isn't really a trap, though it can feel like one. Here are some tips for finding your way out of the trap of the recalcitrant collaborator.
- Find out what's happening
- Have a conversation with the non-collaborator, and explain the situation as you see it. Try to find out three things: what's preventing cooperation, when the problem might end, and what it would take to make it happen earlier.
- Sometimes the answers aren't forthcoming, but when they are, the information can be useful and it might even be a basis for joint problem solving.
- Gather intelligence about patterns
- Find out what you can about recent history. Is there a pattern of difficulty between your team and theirs? Or is the pattern more widespread, affecting many others who work with them?
- If some organizational elements get preferential attention, the resolution of the problem will likely involve politics. On the other hand, if your experience is universal, a more mechanical issue might be the cause.
- Give your non-collaborator a last chance
- Have a conversation with the non-collaborator before you inform your boss. Explain that because of the schedule impact, you're compelled to inform your boss of the situation as you understand it.
- Sometimes this helps to persuade the non-collaborator to collaborate. And sometimes, it's seen as a threat, gravely damaging your relationship. If you don't tell the non-collaborator beforehand, though, you also risk damaging the relationship. Be judicious about this tactic.
- Keep you boss informed
- If your boss expects progress, and you're falling behind, keep him or her informed. Without asking for help or advice, explain what you know about the problem in a "heads up" conversation or a series of such conversations.
- When you explain the problem, your boss might offer advice or assistance. Usually, you're free to accept or decline, but unless you have some plan to resolve the problem, accept.
- Ask for advice
- Ask colleagues for advice first, and then ask your boss. Some will have bad advice, some no advice, and some great advice. Caveat emptor.
- Be circumspect about asking your boss for advice — you'll have to follow it.
When everything you know how to do has failed, ask your boss for help, especially if you sense that the problem resides somewhere above you in the org chart. Your boss might decline, or might be unable to help, but if the problem isn't yours, pretending that it is probably won't work. Top Next Issue
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenZdGxdLSyGtUnsghtner@ChacTCLuioImvOjddJutoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Take Any Seat: II
- In meetings, where you sit in the room influences your effectiveness, both in the formal part of the
meeting and in the milling-abouts that occur around breaks. You can take any seat, but if you make your
choice strategically, you can better maintain your autonomy and power.
- Let's Revise Our Rituals
- Throughout the workday, we interact with each other on many levels. Some exchanges are so common and
ritualized that we're no longer aware of them. If we revise these rituals slightly, we can add some
zing to our lives.
- Ten Reasons Why You Don't Always Get What You Measure: II
- Although many believe that "You get what you measure," metrics-based management systems sometimes
produce disappointing results. In this Part II, we look at the effects of employee behavior.
- Take Charge of Your Learning
- Many of us let others set our learning agendas — peers, employers, or the mass media. But you
can gain much both personally and professionally by setting your own learning agenda.
- Preventing Sidebars
- Sidebar conversations between meeting participants waste time and reduce meeting effectiveness. How
can we prevent them?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenylaJiLbyUOxXZOZWner@ChacvPxFpjXlGzmAhpnioCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.