Frustration with Colleagues

Quick Summary: Individual and department goals vary which cause a seemingly purposeful non-cooperation.

Abstract:

As the organization grows, individuals are naturally assigned to various organizations such as sales, marketing, engineering, customer service, and many others.  Each group develops their own goals and expectations of others. Each group wants the other groups to embrace their priorities, which seldom happens and, in turn, results in frustration.  Everyone wants to be successful but the feeling that others “keep getting in the way” can permeate the organization.

If we step back and think about it, early in the morning when the alarm goes off, people do not stretch, get out of bed, and then think “I am going to have a bad day today at the office.  I am going to do my best to stymie other people.”  Instead, people start every day wanting and anticipating that they will be successful and have a good day.  Then, shortly after arriving or certainly by mid-morning, something unexpected happens that upsets their plans and the bad day spiral begins.  Does this sound like a typical day at your company? If so, it is another impact of growing pains and is caused by frustration with others.  Quite simply, other people’s goals and your goals are probably not in alignment.  Usually the frustration is not with individuals.  Instead, it is with organizations or “silos” as described in the article in this collection “Silo is a Four-Letter Word”.

The following are some typical spoken or unspoken statements that reflect frustration that certain groups feel.  You can probably relate to a number of them.

  • Engineering:
    • Any requested changes will cause a slip in our schedule.
    • The requirements were poorly written, and we are not mind readers.
    • The best plan is to skip this release and make the next one bigger. We are sure it will be delivered on time.
  • Marketing:
    • We need to advertize more, just like our competition.
    • If we hire a New York public relations firm, we can rely on their Rolodex to get the word out much faster than if we try to do it on our own.
    • How can we position our product when it does not provide all of the features of every competitor?
  • Sales
    • If we simply added these three features, prospects would line up at our door to buy from us.
    • Our price is too high, and our prospects do not like our payment terms.
    • We will get that company-making order any day now. Please stop asking when.
  • Finance
    • Development costs are way over budget. Why can’t engineering forecast better?
    • Customers are not paying on time, and sales won’t help with collections.
    • New orders are not coming in as forecasted. Again, we won’t make our numbers.
  • Product Management
    • Customer requirements keep changing, and we are not being responsive.
    • Why can’t engineering provide a firm date for the next release so we can determine what additional features we can add to it?
    • We are not investing enough to meet all of the requirements across all of the markets we could be pursuing.
  • Customer Service
    • The new product has too many bugs, and customers are not happy.
    • The performance of the product does not come close to meeting the specifications shown in our literature.
    • Level Three, Engineering Support, is not responding to us with any urgency.  What do we tell the customer?
  • Senior Management
    • Why doesn’t everyone see the big picture and work together to make us successful?
    • We need more revenue and more customer references now. Next quarter may be too late.
    • It seems like everyone wants to change our plan and adjust our priorities. Why can’t we execute the plan that we agreed to at the beginning of the year?  What am I going to the Board?

When seen in writing as above, the statements may seem to be over the top, but, unfortunately, all are true statements that I have heard over the years.  Each one reflects the “silo” goals of the originator.  All were said with sincere belief that they were real issues hampering individual’s perceived success.  All were based on frustration with “the organization”.  Left unaddressed, the frustration within the organization can transition to resentment that far outlasts the original complaint.  As new employees are added to the organization, they may not be aware of the original issues, only the friction.  A multi-generational Hatfield versus McCoy’s mindset can emerge.

The solution is simple but not easy.  Set cross-functional, company-wide goals and keep everyone focused on them, rather than their individual silo goals.  Although the problem may start as a result of growing pains and the creation of silos, it can always be present but can easily be stopped early on.  Linking goals and discussing them often will provide lower frustration across the board.

 

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