posted Sun, 07 Nov 2004 11:38:45 -0800
There is a woman in my division – let’s call her “Regina” – who always tries to get others to do her work. It took me a while to figure out what was going on because it never occurred to me that there were people like that. Yes, I know I am naïve. I actually like working. I hate having to work, but I like working. I like the satisfaction of solving a hard problem, of figuring something out, of making it better, of seeing results.
I might not be political, but I am a brilliant strategist. All women are. It comes from trying to understand men.
Regina, on the other hand, likes the appearance of working but not the actual work. She is a politician, always seeking to be associated with a high-profile project, to get her name in front of the executives. I avoid that stuff like the plague, which is not good. Politics are an essential part of any human organization and I need to learn to navigate the labyrinths if I am to further my career, but I certainly don’t have an innate talent for it (if that’s not a redundancy) and I am not acquiring the ability.
Regina crashed a meeting I had on Friday. It was appropriate, I suppose, that she be there, as she is the new marketing manager in charge of the market segment I was discussing. Friday afternoon is not a good time to have a meeting, especially when it is the first pretty day without rain in a week, as this one was. I told everyone that I would stop the meeting at 3:00 sharp, whether or not we were through my agenda.
My agenda was this: there is some information I need from the business for the conversion to SAP. It is information the business could use right now as well. They have been working on a project to organize this data, but no one has done the work to pull it all together, mostly because of lack of political power and lack of technical knowledge of how to do it.
"Mack,” the business leader of this group, has been dying to get this information for years. Mack is a buddy of mine. He does not like Regina because she does not ever do any work. Mack does not know that he could get this information if Regina would just get off her butt and put it together.
So. In the meeting, after discussing all this, I say that it looks like the business team is well underway on this project and that they will be ready to do the conversion to SAP in 18 months and that I don’t need to worry about it. Thank you all for coming and goodbye. It is three minutes to 3:00.
“Wait!” says Regina. She turns to me. “But how are we supposed to get the data into our systems now?” I want to tell her that she is at least three pay grades higher than I am, which means she is making at least $15,000 a year more than I am (not to mention bonus), and that she came from a job in the e-center to this job, so shouldn’t she know better than I?, but I do not.
Instead, I tell her that if she and the other two people from the business team want to stay and discuss that issue, that is fine, but I promised the other six people at the meeting that we would end by 3:00, so the meeting is over.
“No!” she says. “I want to resolve this now.” She is hijacking my meeting! I do not know what to do. I know that she is trying to get me to do her work, but I do not know how to stop her from hijacking the meeting. I stand up and open the door. I am furious. If she wants an answer, fine. All you need to do, I say, is either append the code number to the item file in the legacy system or create a cross reference table here and then pull the data from the data mart using a crystal report and then put it all together using Access.
She continues to protest, saying things about how we will need this for SAP. Yes, I know we will. But there is an immediate business need. She is not pushing this off on me. I am on to this woman. I know she wants me to say that my team will do the work. We will not. It is her responsibility to do this project.
At 3:02, I walk out along with the rest of my team and the other invitees. I am livid that she has done this to me. How can I make sure that the data gets prepared the way it needs to be prepared and that she does it? I am afraid she is just going to ignore this so that I will be forced to deal with it in a year to prepare it for conversion.
Then while I was running yesterday, I had a brilliant inspiration. (My best ideas come to me when I am exercising. I don’t know why. Maybe that’s when my mind is free to roam.)
I sent an email to her and copied Mack.
“I was delighted to see that you are so far along in the project in our meeting yesterday. I know that Mack will be very happy to know that he will be able to get product-line specific data by customer as soon as those code numbers are loaded. (Yes, Mack, I mean price, sales and profit by [product line]!) He will certainly support you at the plant level in getting the resources to do that work, although it is good that much of it can be done here at corporate, thus easing the burden on the plants.
“For conversion purposes, it doesn't matter whether the code numbers are in the legacy systems or in a cross-reference table. Wherever you decide to put them, Regina, is fine. We'll take the data where we can get it! I am relieved that I can count on you to have the data in order for conversion so that I work on National Accounts duplicate SKUs.
Ha. Don’t mess with me and my work. You might be more political, Regina, but I do better work. And everyone in this division has figured that out.
The working life: The rat race
2 days ago