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Crucial Skills Newsletter - Volume 4 Issue 12 - "Not My Job" - Crucial Conversations

About Crucial Skills Newsletter - Volume 4 Issue 12 - "Not My Job"

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March 29, 2006
Volume 4 Issue 12Previous Issues
IN THIS ISSUE
  • Crucial Tip
  • Q&A: Not My Job
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Where Can I Learn More?
  • Contact Us
  • CRUCIAL TIP    

    Step Up Immediately

    Skilled problem solvers don’t beat around the bush. They don’t shrink to silence and then pray that the problem will heal itself. Instead, they deal with problems directly and immediately, and achieve the following benefits:

    They Limit Damage. Problems are addressed while they’re still fresh and readily resolved.

    They Have Fresh Information. By dealing with problems right away, you don’t have to rely on outdated information or rusty memories.

    They Avoid Implied Approval. If you don’t say something right away, you’re giving your unspoken approval of the behavior, and it will be harder to say something next time it comes up.

       
    WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?

    Crucial Conversations
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  • CONTACT US
    Questions, feedback, or information you would like to see? E-mail us at editor@vitalsmarts.com.

    Submit your question online to the authors of Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations.

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    “The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel, and misrepresentation."
    – C. Northcote Parkinson

    Not My Job

    About the Author


    Ron McMillan is coauthor of the New York Times bestseller, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.more

    Dear Authors,

    I am a Sales Engineer supporting six sales people. We have one individual who has been here for six months. He does not know his products and wants me to do all of his work for him. He has not taken the initiative to learn on his own with the myriad of training materials available and a two week course that he was sent to for training on our products.

    He spends most of his time in the office at his desk instant messaging his friends and doing push-ups. He needs me to do his quotes for products and assist with his sales. He recently asked me to fill out a contract for a customer he provided a quote to. The only thing he filled out was the customer name—he wanted me to do the rest. He does not look up his own pricing and expects me to provide this as well. He explained that he does not understand the acronyms or the product set so he feels that it is my job to support him in this way. These things are not in my job description.

    He wrote my boss and stated that I will not help or support him. I need advice. He is e-mailing my bosses and making things difficult. How do I address this concern?

    Signed,
    Supporting Role


     

     

    Dear Supporting,

    As I read your description of the problems you are facing with one of your sales people (let’s call him Buster), I immediately pictured a bowl of spaghetti. You have several problems all wound around each other: negotiating and clarifying roles and responsibilities, setting clear expectations, confronting poor performance and bad behavior, developing and improving your working relationships—and these are just the issues with Buster. You also have some work to do with your bosses to make sure they are aware of the facts concerning the situation and not forming opinions of you based on the complaints Buster sent them. A mess of spaghetti indeed!

    Let me give you a caution. If you jab your fork in the spaghetti and then stuff all the hanging pasta and dripping sauce in your mouth, you will make a huge mess. Likewise if you sit down with Buster and begin discussing all the issues you have with him, you are likely to create defensiveness and confusion—and resolve very little.

    A powerful principle to help prepare for a crucial confrontation is to write the problem in a single sentence. Ask yourself “What am I expecting?” and “What am I getting?” The gap between your expectations and your actual results is an effective definition of the problem you face. By applying this single sentence principle in your situation, you’ll get clarity and focus about what the real problems are and what problems you are trying to solve. You are teasing out a single spaghetti noodle, resolving that one, and then going after the next one. Let me suggest some single problem sentences you might consider.

    1. Buster is unable or unwilling to fulfill his responsibilities and expects me to do them for him. Specific examples include:
      1. He cannot fill out a contract.
      2. He does not know his products.
      3. He does not look up his own pricing.
      4. He does not understand the acronyms needed to fill out a contract.
    2. Buster e-mails my bosses stating that I will not help or support him—statements which I believe are untrue.
    3. Buster spends most of his time in the office at his desk “instant messaging” his friends and doing push-ups. (As I see this problem written out in a single sentence it occurs to me that this is most likely an exaggeration rather than a factual statement. Should you make a statement of this problem to Buster the resulting argument would most likely be about the percentage of his time that is wasted instead of focusing on the problems you care most about. I would not recommend not taking on this issue—at least not as the primary problem).

    Having unbundled these issues, there are two crucial conversations I would recommend you focus on: The conversation with Buster and the conversation with your bosses.

    With Buster, I have a few suggestions that might be helpful. To reduce Buster’s defensiveness, share your good intentions. Perhaps say something like:

    “Hey Buster, I would like to talk with you about how we can work together more effectively.”

    Next, set the agenda by factually describing the gap between what you expect and what you are getting.

    “There are several aspects of your job like filling out the contract and looking up pricing that you have been asking me to do. I see these as your job not mine. Help me understand what’s going on.”

    By listening carefully to Buster’s response you will likely be able to ascertain the cause of the problem. If it’s clear that Buster doesn’t want to do what is required, help him understand the consequences of his behavior (for example, “If I have to do these tasks for you it takes me away from other critical priorities”). If Buster complies, great! If not, you may need to escalate the problem to Buster’s boss. If he disagrees and says these are not part of his job, appeal to official job descriptions or invite Buster’s boss into the conversation. This might also be a necessary step if he claims he is unable to do these things because he doesn’t know how. Encourage his boss to make a development plan that will help Buster acquire the necessary knowledge. It is absolutely essential that you do not conclude without setting clear expectations with Buster and his boss about what you will and will not do to support Buste! r going forward.

    The second crucial conversation must be had with your bosses. It’s entirely possible that their view of the situation, including your performance, is based upon Buster’s e-mails to them. I would recommend seeking the opportunity to meet with them and factually review the situation. Be focused on what you really want. This might include results that are the best for your company and the client, Buster’s success in doing his job, a good working relationship between you and Buster going forward, a good working relationship with your bosses, and good results in your performance. Factually describe the gap you perceive between Buster’s actions and your expectations. Clearly describe your understanding of your job and the things you are and are not doing to support Buster. Then seek an understanding of your bosses’ expectations of you in this situation. Don’t conclude until you have established clear expectations about what yo! u will and will not do to support Buster.

    Please be aware that the skills and approach of Crucial Confrontations will not guarantee you all of the outcomes you desire. These are not skills for controlling or manipulating. We have learned however, that this approach dramatically increases the probability of improved relationships and results.

    I wish you the best in all of your crucial confrontations.

    Ron

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    Re: “Kerrying On: Speaking the Unspeakable” (March 22, 2006)

    Dear Editor,

    The problem is that Executives in management of American companies spend their days golfing or getting facials instead of working and getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Employees throughout America see that hard work is not rewarded. It's who you know not how hard you work that brings the rewards.

    Hard working blue collar employees are watched like hawks by management, constantly disciplined for very minor offenses and laid off if they get sick or elderly. The American corporation has lost its heart and doesn't care about its employees. As further proof of this, most American corporations do not offer their employees health insurance and make employees feel they will lose their jobs if they make a doctors appointment.

    How long would you work at your full capacity if you knew you were never going to be rewarded for it?

    Sincerely,

    Cindy

    ------------------

    Re: Accepting Termination

    Dear Editor,

    How should one accept a termination notice gracefully? 

    Thanks

    Response by Kerry Patterson

    It's amazingly mature of you to seek such advice. Most people aren't interesting in finding ways to remain graceful after they've been told that they've been sacked, fired, downsized or whatever you want to call it. But you're right. Seeking revenge, giving others a piece of your mind, breaking down and crying, and otherwise giving in to your emotions doesn't serve you well. After being let go, you'll want solid recommendations and need to remain on your best and most professional behavior.

    Start by seeking honest feedback. If you're being downsized for strategic reasons, ask what you can do to be less vulnerable in your next position. If you're being fired for cause, ask for details so you can avoid similar circumstances in the future.

    Look for the positive. For example, if you're being given a generous severance package, express your honest appreciation. If your boss handled the termination discussion well, be similarly appreciative. If you do want to "let it all go" in an emotional tirade, do so with a loved one. But keep your actions at work positive and the very picture of professionalism.

    By maintaining a graceful response under trying circumstances you'll cross the bridge to a new phase in your life without burning it along the way.

    Kerry

    ------------------

    Re: Style Under Stress Test

    Dear Editor,

    After taking the Style under Stress Test, I discovered I have a low score on "Learn to Look." What does this mean? And what should I do about it?

    Thanks,

    Catherine in Oregon

    Response by Joseph Grenny

    Dear Catherine,

    When you take the Style Under Stress test, be sure to be thinking about a very specific Crucial Conversation. That's when the test is most useful. A low score on Learn to Look means that in your Crucial Conversation you are missing warning signs that the conversation is crucial. For example, you might not be paying attention when your behavior moves to some form of silence or violence—until it's too late. Or, you might not be noticing that other people's behavior is moving to silence or violence and you should be doing something about it.

    If you have a low Learn to Look score, read that chapter in Crucial Conversations and begin to pay more attention to your own behavior and that of others. If you notice YOU are moving to Silence or Violence use the advice in Start with Heart and Master My Stories to get yourself back on track. If it's the other person who is moving to Silence or Violence, use the advice in Make It Safe and Explore Others’ Paths to help them get back to dialogue.

    Good luck!

    Joseph

    * Editor's Note: You can take the Style Under Stress Test online here.

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