The billing system glitch was costing them millions. Meeting payroll was iffy.
Butts from the system implementation company were on the hook. To start, they trained client users with the wrong materials. So when the switch on the promising new system was thrown, the system started up, but no one really knew how to use it.
Add an implementation lead who was new in their position and proved unqualified in responding to urgent requests from the client. CEO to CEO conversations ensued as a backlog of millions of dollars grew. With the system in its current state, the client simply couldn’t make the cash register work.
No matter the complexity of a change, it’s people who make the thing sing. In this case the system implementation company threw a dozen team members at the problem, traveling to the client site to try to work through the issues. This time a seemingly more seasoned team lead was assigned to head up the triage unit. She sat in front of the client CEO in the first meeting:
CEO: You understand we have a backlog of charges we can’t send.
TEAM LEAD: Yes, I’m well aware of that. That’s why we’re here.
CEO: Where do you start and what is your team going to do to fix this?
TEAM LEAD: Well, if your team would have just…
STOP! RIGHT FLIPPIN’ THERE! You’re the CEO on the receiving end of that preamble to who-knows-what. What’s your thought at this moment?
To Deflect. What the hell is that? Really, someone would sit there face-to-face with leader of a customer organization with all that’s commonly known about the system failure and Deflect responsibility back to the leader’s team?
Ok, let’s be fair. Look at it from the Team Lead’s point of view. That’s real, sizzling energy coming at her from the person who’s going to write the check that pays their system implementation bill. So maybe it’s survival instinct that caused her to play the “D” Action?
To Deflect. Dodge. Deny. We see enough of those Actions on the stage of politics to cause a gag reflex with every insincere encounter.
Obviously there are many other Action choices our Team Lead could make if built on a platform of Ownership. When it comes to dynamics as Actor, corporate or theatrical, I OWN my performance, the stage I’m on and the responsibility of caring for my Audience. It’s MY performance and NO ONE CAN TAKE IT FROM ME! I do share the spotlight—in fact the best Actors do—as the story dictates. I am selfish in accountability, yet selfless in supporting my fellow artists with our collaborative focus on Audience.
To Listen. To Honor. To Support. To Assure. There are Actions to be played that could have helped.
Coach the Team Lead? Coach yourself? Maybe they/you don’t know how to act accountable, regardless of what feelings are present? Is there even the capacity to act effectively in threatening situations?
That’s the core of communication skills workshops—create customized, relevant, challenging scenarios and have participants act them out. Test instinct. Try unrealized Actions. Repeat. Our Team Lead and others could have been equipped with strong options to play in their performance.
It’s your stage. Your performance. And, with ownership and effective Actions, you’re on!