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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Act 2 Scene 42: VP from Corporate

The characters: Business unit executive with direct reports and the VP from corporate…

The scene: VP requests meeting with detailed progress reports from executive and the individual team members. At the meeting, VP is holding a report that no members of the team have seen, asking pointed and specific questions about data that the team was not prepared to answer. One team member admits that they have not focused on the area that the VP is drilling on. Meeting ends silently.

How might they have handled the situation differently?

In the debrief, we laid out the data above plus the story and emotions. The Team sensed that the VP was on a hunt and they were trapped. It was apparent that the VP was acting out of his own stress behaviors… someone had apparently hammered on him about an unrealistic new revenue target to which he had committed, and he was hammering on the team. Fear and anger were rising. Team members were fearful of where it was headed as other layoffs have occurred. Executive was angry that the team was blindsided. The meeting ended with unresolved direction and high tension.

"Huh. Isn’t that interesting?” So, when the group noticed their own emotions coming up… both fear and anger… they might have said…

“I notice that you seem to be focusing on an area that we are unprepared for, and that you don’t really want to talk about the prepared progress reports. What is it that you really want to talk about? What is it that you really want?"

By refocusing the discussion on what it is the VP really wanted, the team may have been able to give the VP a win without losing much. The win would have been getting him the space to clearly state what he wanted and to be heard by the team. My guess is the “real want” in this was some assurances around an unrealistic target. In the process, he may have owned his own fear or anger and gotten to the truth of his own concern that the unrealistic revenue target was indeed unrealistic.

What do you think?