Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Have Returned From The Wizarding World

I realize my posting has been minimal if infrequent lately, but I was stricken with Pottermania over the weekend, coming off what was probably the worst week I've had in a while. I have a theory about why that was, but I'm going to talk about that over at Frying Bacon later on today.

I'm having trouble coming up with things to talk about. I tried picking up the Newsweek to see if it had any new stories I could run with, but after thumbing through it and reading everything up to the "My Turn" section, I realized it was over a month old.

Frankly, though, a lot of my writing mojo has been absorbed by the Masters program I'm in. I suppose I could supply you with some of that. I was supposed to analyze a conflict in my life. This is what I came up with and it is part of the reason why my week sucked so hard:

Conflict Description: My supervisor had asked me to get information about resource needs for the remainder of the year. He needed the information rather quickly and I pulled it together. As I was presenting the information, a co-worker interrupted with a suggestion that my information may not have been complete. I returned to my office with her and we struggled to retrace our steps over the past year and tried to confirm my information. At one point, we needed to call another office to get some general information. We were on the phone with the other office for nearly an hour, ending up more confused then when we started. At this point, my supervisor appeared at my door wanting a final version to take with him to a meeting. When I explained that I was unsure of my data and had called another office, my supervisor became angry and told me that this was supposed to be an in-house document and discussion. I countered that, in the past, he had wanted me to provide the most accurate information possible and I was trying to live up to that standard, lest we run into a surprise obstacle in the future.

Major Source of Conflict: A major source of this conflict was unrealistic expectations on behalf of me and my supervisor. I wanted to uncover all potential “landmines” before I released the document to him. He wanted me to complete a task without using all of my resources and didn’t warn me in advance that I needed to do the best I could with the information I had at hand. I think we also both jumped to conclusions. I felt that I needed to thoroughly research the problem, but he preferred general information. He thought I had breached his trust and had been indiscreet. This was a perceptual conflict in that I believed I was doing what was expected of me based on past experience. My supervisor had explained that he couldn’t go into details about why he needed the information. His perception of the situation was that I was “leaking” information to another office and that this matter was highly confidential. What he didn’t realize was that I was asking for general information that was appropriate and would not indicate anything to the other office, as I had no idea what was behind the request for information.

Conflict Resolution Strategy Applied: My supervisor and I realized that we both lacked full understanding of the situation. Because there was little time to analyze the situation, we decided to go with a temporary solution. He chose to use my original information as I presented it to him initially, with the caveat that there may be unforeseen problems due to the lack of complete access to information at that time. I agreed to come to him in the future for approval to contact outside help on this particular issue. We also apologized to each other.

Other Applicable Resolution Strategies: I believe we could have also applied an interdependence Analysis, wherein we could determine for the future how to notify each other of our situations. He would need to be more forthcoming when assigning a task that this was a matter purely in-house and explicitly say I should contact no one else while getting the job done. I would need to be very explicit about what information I had direct access to and what information I needed to retrieve through others.


  1. I got a piece of great information from an old co-worker one time. He said to always make your manager set the parameters of what is expected of you, and to lay the big decisions on them.

    For example, in your situation make the manager set how much detail to expect you to get, and have them make the decision about where to get it and how long it will take. Of course, you provide the steering into all of these decisions to make your life easier, but they have to state the expected outcome based upon what is possible in a given time frame.

  2. I wouldn't have gone over it with my co-worker, I would have given my boss what I had, told him what the co-worker said, asked him to review it and let me know if I should look further into whatever.

    Sometimes a third person can make things more complicated. Go with your gut and consult the boss along the way.

  3. I got to call bullshit on your boss. He made a very general, wide-ranging request that any reasonable thinking person could imagine would lead you to ask for specific data from other departments.

    He wants it both ways. He wants not to share that his little project is a secret, and yet he wants you to keep the secret without knowing that it is one. He's just pissed that his little plan backfired and he got mad at you instead of himself, who was the real person at fault.

    Yeah, in the corporate world you should cover your ass just like SkyDad or Elizabeth suggest, but I'm sorry, I just had to call in the bullshit patrol for just this one time.

  4. Thanks for the great advice, Skyler's Dad.

    Elizabeth, you're right of course.

    Vikki, you are absolutely right of course. Will you come to work with me and straighten him out?

  5. mein gott! Did you see her SHOES?!?!