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The Fact and The Fundamental Lie (Part 3)

Photo by Tiffany Trewin

Photo by Tiffany Trewin

Where we left off in part two, Janice*, the manager of her company’s governance group, has provided Rhonda*, a program manager who works for Janice, with some feedback about her performance.

…which started with “You are always trying to undermine me.”

The conversation degenerated into Janice trying to tell Rhonda all the ways that her circumventing the PMO’s process proved her intent to harm and into Rhonda’s defense of her own character.

From Rhonda’s point of view, she has good reason not to follow the PMO’s process.  As we talked about in part one, the governance board that approved the projects for funding and continuation doesn’t request or review the majority of the deliverables and milestones that this process demands.  These things require a lot of time and effort from Rhonda’s customer, and her customer doesn’t see the value in producing these documents.

Rhonda doesn’t see the value in producing them, either, when her projects move forward without delay regardless.  Her objectives are to make sure her clients programs get delivered and to make sure they feel well taken care of.  It is also a personal value of hers that she adds value.  She meets these objectives every year, and her clients give her rave reviews… which is why she is so shocked that Janice thinks she’s out to get her.

Furthermore, Rhonda has a bone to pick of her own.  She works a lot of overtime, and doesn’t feel either supported or appreciated, even though most of the metrics that make Janice’s group’s performance look so good are because Rhonda’s program is always on.  She also knows that Janice doesn’t like her, and she doesn’t feel comfortable at group events.  As a result of this latest conversation, she’s started communicating directly with Janice’s manager so that she doesn’t have to deal with Janice at all.

When I asked Rhonda what kept her from going directly to Janice and having a discussion about changing the part of the goveranance process rather than not doing it, she said, “Having that kind of conversation with Janice is impossible.  She doesn’t listen, and it’s her way or the highway.  The only reason I am still here is that I love my client, and Janice would have gotten rid of me a long time ago but for that.  And, you know, I can see how Janice might think I was trying to undermine her because I’ll admit i didn’t follow the almighty process.  But she forgets that our top priority isn’t following some stupid process.  It is getting products out the door and keeping the clients happy.  The process is priority number three.”

As an objective observer, I can see both sides.  While Rhonda can concede one point to Janice, she doesn’t concede much more than that.  Janice concedes nothing.

Whether they realize it or not, both have an emotional investment in being right.

How this scenario normally plays out all over the country, in many companies, is that Janice and Rhonda will eventually get to the place where they’ll pretend like nothing has happened and co-exist somewhat peacefully.  They will disagree.  Rhonda will probably play a more active role in undermining Janice, because she’s lost all respect for her.  Janice will continue to ostracize Rhonda.  Neither will trust in or communicate any more than the rudimentaries with each other.  Things will be missed.  Work will have to be redone.  Effort will be wasted as they avoid each other until finally someone moves or gets laid off.

How much do you think this costs in productivity?

Next time…. a better way to engage in this conversation.

Be Your Best You Today,


* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.

p.s. – Improve Performance NOW! uses the power of focus, attention, and a proven framework to upgrade leadership skills, starting with communicating in a way that gets the results that  we all want.  No one wants to spend a lot of time managing things that people could manage for themselves, and yet that’s what many leaders find themselves doing.  Create a new habit.  Sign-up for a no-cost, no-obigation preview call today.

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One Response to “The Fact and The Fundamental Lie (Part 3)”

  • Great stuff Carolann. You asked an important and overlooked question… How much does this cost in productivity? Certainly Way too much! Look forward to your insight in the better way to engage the conversation. Thanks!

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