A Three Week Deadline!
As a government contractor the products they made and the materials they ordered all belonged to the government. The company was required to keep track of everything. They had just had an audit and had failed. They were going to be re-audited in three months and if they failed this time they could very well lose their contract. This pressure only increased the tensions between the departments.
There were several departments involved and they worked with each other in very different ways, depending upon the project. Old projects, rejects and unused parts were all stored in a warehouse section, but while it was locked there were no policies about access and few records. Each department had its own method and its own storage area.
There was lots of finger pointing and lots of territorial ownership. No one wanted to change their own process and procedure. Not all of the managers got along well and some of the managers were new and inexperienced.
The keeper of the storeroom had gone ahead and contracted to have a program written that would allow him to keep track of things. He was driving the need to rethink how they worked together and how they kept track of project parts and pieces. This made him the ‘bad’ guy and the focus of resistance, however there was no agreement about how to move forward.
They had three weeks to come to agreement so that they would still have time to implement and trouble shoot before the next audit.
I spent eight hours a day for a week and a half talking to each manager and the lead staff in each department. We talked about how they saw the situation, what they saw as the most important things that needed to be done, and why they thought they had the issue in the first place.
Then I went back and told each of them what the others were thinking and together we problem solved what I had shared from the other managers. We were tying in their own ideas and testing them against the wisdom of the other managers. As they began to see and understand the needs of the other groups they rose to the challenge and worked to find win-win situations.
As I learned about their concerns I’d feed that information back to the storeroom manager so that he too, began to understand the concerns and needs of the others. By the end of the third week there was a shared agreement that only needed to be codified by a group meeting so everyone could see the process in its entirety and make any refinements that needed to be made. What was most important was that everyone was now on the same page and the rivalry had morphed into and us instead of and us and them feeling. Everyone was working for the same ends. This made the storage room manager very happy as he was very much fearing holding this meeting!
There is nothing like communication!
Thank you so much for coming to our Business Women’s dinner and speaking on resilience and sustainability in the workplace and in our daily lives. Your examples from nature of these traits were inspiring. In addition, we enjoyed the interaction with other members regarding how we deal with change and shifts. Your presentation focused on the positive aspects of making changes, necessary from generation to generation, just the way nature does. We must recognize this as leaders and coworkers in the workplace.
Thank you very much. Your enthusiasm is “catching” .
Mary Ellen Lewis, Corresponding Secretary
We could not have held this meeting with out her work. I highly recommend Ms. Alexander…her experience, education and expertise…is…quite diversified. – Mario Medina, Security and Configuration Manager, FIRST RF Corporation
This was easier than I thought – You made us better. – Marvin, Skip, Jarrell, Property Controller, FIRST RF Corporation