Reader Question: Difficult People
The linked article and question were sent by a reader who asked, in part:
I discovered your blog and podcast a few months ago and have been following closely. I work in a company recently acquired by a company that’s a few years into their lean journey and the parent company has been rolling Lean out in our business unit. I was selected for the implementation team, so I read and listen to everything about Lean that I can get my hands on. Yours is one of my primary resources.I came across this article and its an issue we’ve been dealing with and it made me wonder how the “fix” would be handled in the Lean world. Is it something you could blog about?
I’m traveling back home today, so I’ll leave the blog in your hands… what are your thoughts on this, from a change management perspective?
From the article:
Imagine you’re a newly appointed project leader of an existing management team. How do you know if you’re walking into a club of entrenched buddies who want to run the show and will sabotage your efforts? And what can you do about it?
I recently observed a team of a dozen managers with that dynamic. Harry was the newly appointed project leader. His two predecessors, also experienced leaders, had been unable to move the team forward. Both reported problems building team agreement and developing aligned effort.
Sitting in on a team meeting, I saw two people repeatedly cast furtive glances to a third, who signaled displeasure by frowning, eye rolling and head shaking. After each instance, the trio resisted the direction being taken by the rest of the group.
A little investigation on my part revealed the pattern. One person was the queen bee, supported by her attentive court. She thought she should run the whole team because she knew best.
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Though she hadn’t been able to convince her superiors, she knew the project was going in the wrong direction. In her mind, even worse than her lack of power, was the lack of appreciation to which she felt entitled. Since she knew what was right, she also felt justified in sabotaging everyone else’s efforts.
All three of the managers sabotaging Harry were entrenched in the organization. They covered each other’s backs. Anyone who disagreed or challenged them with facts was stabbed in the back.
Do you ever see similar patterns in your attempts to help an organization change, or in implementing Lean? What strategies do you use? I’m not sure if there’s a “Lean answer” as much as there is a “working with people” answer — your thoughts??