Alright, I know I said We Wear Khakis is dead, but my registrar automatically renewed the domain for another year. So, since the blog is up and paid for, what the hell. I got in the mood to write another post. So here you have it…. We Wear Khakis from the DEAD!
I’m on a tough project right now with a certain government agency, and in classic government style, everything is endless roundabouts, bureaucracy and finger pointing. The client wants to see Y, but before Y can be done, we have to do X… but before we can even begin to think about doing X, the client has to give us U,V, and W!
Does that even make any sense? Well, in a nutshell, imagine your boss yelling at you for not making a bunch of copies of a document, when the copy machine has been broken for weeks and the boss is the only one who can put in an order to get it fixed… oh, and you’re also forbidden to go to Kinkos next door and get the damn copies yourself. You could go tell the boss they’re a giant, moronic asshole, but then you’d be fired.
Obviously, this is a non-productive environment in the making. And naturally, a lot of negativity starts rearing its head. Co-workers start quietly badmouthing our team’s leadership, our leadership starts micromanaging us, we all start pointing fingers at the client, and before you know it, no one wants to be here anymore.
Now is the time to do a U-turn. No is the time to flank the issue.
In strategic management I was taught there are only a few things you can do when faced with a challenge from a competitor or addressing a tough situation. You can-
- Attack head on, face to face
- Retreat and retrench
I made the last option, Flank, bold because it’s my favorite and I think most effective.
So, how do I tackle this problem at work? I don’t have the authority or seniority to attack it head first. I’m in no authority to be demanding anything of anyone or setting priorities for any of my teammates or the client work force.
I could sit back in my chair and make sure to simply “CYA” (cover your ass) day in and out, but that isn’t going to improve this particular situation.
I could find a new project or job, but that’s really not even an option.
Or, I could chip away at those around me by making friends with the client personnel who I have to rely onto get my job done. I could try to lift the spirits of my teammates, decline to talk negatively about anyone and keep it to myself, and work to anticipate problems or challenges before they arise. And, I could take a few valuable lessons from simple Game Theory in dealing with not so cooperative individuals.
The key is definitely to flank and be strategic. Of course, it is easier said than done, but like everything, it takes practice and time. And so, I begin flanking my workplace problems today, chipping away at them little by little.