I ran into one of the more difficult aspects of my job this week. I don't think it's right to give out too many details, so I'll try to abstract away to protect the innocent.
It boils down to: two partners had a misunderstanding that was brought into a work session in front of a few folks we were trying to recruit for the effort. Nothing was overt, but you could definitely sense a strong tension in the room. As facillitator, my role was simply to recognize disfunctional behavior in the room and move around it to accomplish the work.
As Project Manager, my role shifts to actually getting to the root of the problem and seeing if there was a way to get over it. I deferred to another person in my organization to have the first go 'round of conversations (because she had prior and deeper relationships with these people and also because I was a coward and didn't want to meet the confrotation head on).
That was a mistake. I needed to realize that this conflict had nothing to do with me, personally. It was probably brewing long before I even came into the scene. Nevertheless, it's my job to make sure everyone is comfortable and feels like its worthwhile for them to participate.
So this morning I had to make a couple of difficult phone calls to try to hear where both sides were coming from. I agree 100% with one of these folks, but I must maintain nuetrality for political and practical reasons. I lathered on the strokes and made sure both parties knew what they meant to our organization.
I think we came to a possible resolution; it's ultimately going to be about those two hashing it out on the phone. The good news is that these are extremely talented and strong individuals who can get over things quickly. After talking with them, I'm highly optimistic about moving forward.
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