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When there’s no connection between you a colleague


Has this happened to you?

"I’m really busy right now. I’ll call you when I have time." These were the words in the e-mail that had just appeared in Tom’s inbox after weeks of chasing the sales director, Andrew. Two short sentences. He couldn’t believe it. Andrew tended to be late in replying to Tom’s e-mails, but now it was getting ridiculous.

Andrew worked out of a sales office in another country, running a sales team with 12 people. He was a very successful business unit sales director. He had been in the company for several years, was well liked, and his team had consistently hit their sales targets. This was very much appreciated, as other business units were struggling recently. Andrew’s team was a bit sloppy, however, when it came to financial reporting.

The two of them had corresponded many times since Tom was transferred to the business unit as finance manager one year ago, but they had only met in person once. That was a brief encounter nine months ago, when Andrew was visiting the headquarters where Tom worked. The business unit manager and Andrew were having coffee in a lounge area when Tom passed by. “Hey, Tom. Do you have a second?” As the Business unit manager introduced them to each other, Andrew stood up and reached out to shake Tom’s hand, a warm smile on his face. “Care to join us?” Andrew asked. Feeling a little caught off guard, as he had a lot of work to do, Tom declined the invitation and politely excused himself.

Fast forward to the present. Staring at the e-mail from Andrew on his computer screen, Tom was very worried about his options. As a finance manager, he needed to send a quarterly report for the business unit to the central finance department, but the numbers from Andrew’s sales team were faulty, and some information was incomplete. These issues would reflect badly on the sales team’s performance in particular and the business unit as a whole. This would crush Tom, as he took it as a personal mission to help the business unit succeed. And once the numbers were submitted, they would be very difficult to change, which is why Tom had been chasing Andrew. In his most recent effort, two days ago, Tom wrote a very long e-mail to Andrew, trying to clearly explain in detail what the issues were, and asking for an explanation, as well as the correct information. All he gets in response is two sentences and no explanation.

Time was running out, so Tom would either have to leave the sales numbers as they were, which would raise a lot of red flags, or he would have to ask the business unit manager to speak with Andrew; something Tom very much wanted to avoid, as it would be mean he couldn’t handle things himself, and it could lead to potential conflict with Andrew.

Feeling a headache coming on, Tom asked himself why it was so difficult for Andrew to answer his questions.

Reflection Question

What do you do to connect more with a colleague?

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