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How to deal with unhappy people about my priorities?

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  • How to deal with unhappy people about my priorities?


    I'm a engineer working in a manufacturing environnement where I have to wear many hats. Even if I'm reporting to R&D director, my tasks also include working with buying department to reduce cost, projects with quality department to reduce service calls, trouble shooting with production department to reduce downtime, etc.

    GTD helped me a lot to manage all those tasks. I'm feeling very confortable with my choices about my actions and commitments but others don't. Some people doesn't seem to trust my intuitive choices about what is the best thing to do in the business interest. I have to spend a lot of time justifying how I spent my time and why I didn't or won't prioritise their demands.

    I'm getting frustrated when, by example, quality director grabbs 2 days of my time to solve a problem that has relative minor impact compare to other projects on my list.

    People wants everything now. They want me to get rid of their pain. Something, I feel like I'm working in an emergency.

    I got furious on email cc to my boss and 100 others about "I requested this 2 weeks ago. Why it is not done yet?"

    To please one person I have to unplease 20 others.

    It is like preparing diner with hungry children yelling around.

    How do you deal with this kind of situations? Do you have to spend most of your time renegociating your commitments?

  • #2
    Keep your boss happy, make sure you and he have the same priorities, and ask him to help you deal with other departments. That's part of his job.



    • #3
      Totally agree with the above.

      It sounds like you are already doing your best and recognize that you can't please every single person. Problems for each of those people are bigger than life yet in the overall scheme (your responsibility) their Class A problem may in fact be a Class C.

      You are obviously in a position where you are going to ruffle feathers, and that's fine to some degree - people need to realize this. Your job is to make sure your prioritization scheme matches with the company's and your superiors'. That would be step one. Learning how to manage all the people is either your Step 2 or your boss' job.

      Mastery of step 2 is essentially interpersonal relationships, letting each person know they are important, but also making sure they are absolutely aware that you have responsibilities to the company which require prioritization beyond a single department. You could write a book on that one alone but managing expectations, truly listening, and getting them to see the larger context are all key.

      Actually the position that you are in seems to touch a lot of areas and properly managing the relationships and servicing your internal clients can really pay dividends in your career if handled right. This seems like a good opportunity for you and my best advice would be to change the context in which you are viewing it (frustration) to one of enthusiasm and challenge.

      Just an aside - if things are really "that bad" to where the company is going to get truly overrun (not just in the mind of someone), requesting more resources would be logical.


      • #4
        Agreed with others.
        1. Where's your boss? It's your boss's job to run interference for you when others are unhappy with you. You should be getting support from your boss.
        2. You're in the relationship business. Are you investing in the relationships? Do you stop by peoples' desks just to chat? Do you drop off little gifts (a candy bar, a card, a Post-It with an encouraging word)? Do you invite them to lunch?
        3. I'm a bit confused about how a quality director can grab 2 days of your time. Did he or she put a gun to your head? Did you tell the director about the other work you have to do?
        4. How well have you explained your workload to others? Griping won't help, but occasionally mentioning your other responsibilities--and the scale of those responsibilities--can go a long way towards instilling a sense of respect in others for the value of your time.

        Does that help?