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The Lonely Captain

Is everyone really out to get you?

3 MIN READING TIME

Has this happened to you?

“Lazy,” “incompetent,” "liars” she said through clenched teeth as she explained the situation to me over the phone. This was the first time I spoke with Stephanie and she was in a bad place. We had scheduled the call to discuss the possibility of my coaching her, and one of the first things she said to me was that she wanted to quit her job.

Here’s what I already knew about Stephanie: she was a talented senior product developer, working at a company that had made several acquisitions over the past five years. The product development functions from the new acquisitions had been working separately at first, but were now slowly being merged into one. Since each company had its own product development process, there were a lot of questions and confusion throughout the organization. Stephanie and her manager, the head of R&D, agreed that they needed to have one single process for everyone to follow.

Stephanie explained to me over the phone that her manager, Kim, asked her to put together a project proposal to optimize and standardize the development process. After getting project approval from a steering committee, Stephanie rolled up her sleeves and set to work. She was assigned a project team, put together a project plan, set a timeline, and was on her way!

BUT...after a couple of months, she had noticed that things were moving a little too slowly. She had initial concerns when she found out that her project would not get as many resources as she had asked for, but she wasn’t completely surprised. She was, however, disappointed that Cynthia, a sales manager who was supposed to be delivering market analysis data to the project was consistently behind schedule. At first, she blew it off as laziness, but that didn’t make sense as Cynthia had a good reputation for coordinating with product development over the years.

After a couple of unanswered e-mails, Stephanie decided to confront Cynthia. As Stephanie started to question her, Cynthia casually brushed it off, saying “I have a lot of other things to do and no time.“ Stephanie asked her how that was possible since she was officially part of the project team. Cynthia replied that her manager had made it clear to her to prioritize other projects first. While Stephanie processed this information, Cynthia ended the conversation, saying she had a meeting to get to.

The next day, still reeling from her talk with Cynthia, Stephanie heard a rumor from a colleague that Simon, a purchasing manager who had not shown up to the last project meeting, was now encouraging others to to do the same. Mutiny!!

Reflection Question

How do you make sure your colleagues are as committed to a project as you are?

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