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Course on Project Management Characters & Setting Maggie, CIO at Better Hospitals Maggie, CIO at Better Hospitals Craig, Information System Manager: “I have a problem with my staff that needs your advice.” Craig, Information System Manager: “I have a problem with my staff that needs your advice.” Allison: Team manager Allison: Team manager Penny: Team manager Penny: Team manager 1:45 pm on Friday in Maggie’s office 1:45 pm on Friday in Maggie’s office Craig shows email from Allison Craig shows email from Allison
Course on Project Management I fear I have to … Craig, I was very disturbed to learn that you met with Penny without my knowledge to discuss my performance. As I said in my memo to you of April 21, the situation between me and Penny has been building for some time, and it has nothing to do with my performance. Here's one example: Last week, when the two of us were meeting with the Dr Brown, she contradicted me right in front of him. I had been explaining the timing of the rollout, and she jumped right in and said, "No, Allison, that's not right. We're using this schedule." And then she handed Dr Brown a printout with a schedule I had never even seen, much less agreed to. That was not the first time that she has made decisions regarding the EHR system behind my back and then embarrassed me in front of the clinicians. At first, I attributed her behavior to the fact that she was not used to communicating from an offsite location. As you know, it has been only two months since she began working part-time from home, which was just when the EHR project was getting under way. In fact, when I voiced my concerns to her, she said she'd had difficulty with her E-mail, but that she'd consulted with the other, members of the team and the problem wouldn't happen again. But as I considered her excuses and thought about her behavior, I realized my initial theory wasn't plausible. I have been working outside of the office for over a year now, and I know that it isn't that difficult to stay in touch. And so I must conclude that her behavior is not about being off-site -- it is a personal vendetta of some kind against me and other members of the team. Other members of the team who are off-site feel the same way. If this situation is not resolved soon, I fear that I will have to consider alternative employment. Please respond immediately. Allison
Course on Project Management How come … Craig (IS manager) to Maggie, (CIO): "I have to say, Maggie, I'm at a loss. I mean, sure, I know what to do at the meeting on Monday. I'm going to tell them both, gently, that I understand that there has been some conflict between them, and then I'm going to use all of my skills as a facilitator and manager to get them to put all their cards on the table and work through the problem." Maggie, (CIO): The thing I'm at a loss about is just how the situation got to this point without my knowledge. I know that two years ago, when everyone was working right under my nose, I could tell immediately if something was up. I could see it in people's stances, hear it in their tones of voice. But now that we're all working off-site part of the time, and communicating a lot more by E-mail and voice mail, it's a lot harder to monitor how my people feel. I know the work gets done, and I see almost everyone at least once every other week in our group meeting. I also try to check in with people at least every other day. Clearly, though, when a group of employees tries to manage a conflict on its own, as the EHR team has, I'm totally out of the loop until it's either resolved or too late. In this case, it may be too late. Didn't you have any warning that there was tension between Penny and Allison or between Penny and other members of the team?
Course on Project Management History … Craig (IS manager): "Not really, I mean, I know that there's some bad history between Penny and Allison, but I thought they were well past it. Back when we were all working out of this building, Allison once came to me quite upset, saying that Penny had lied to a client about why the system had come in over budget. She said that Penny had alluded to the client that it was Allison's fault. I talked with Penny alone, then with both of them together, and we all agreed that it had been a miscommunication. Penny even offered to write a letter to the client saying that if a wrong impression had been given, she wanted to correct it. But Allison declined the offer -- with my support. Bad enough if the client had been given the wrong impression, but better to let it stand than to go back and pick at it. Since then, though, everything has been fine. I mean, the usual once-in- a-while conflict between coworkers, but nothing to speak of. In fact, I sort of attributed that whole incident to the fact that Allison was having marital problems at the time. I thought it was largely a case of displaced anger. They were both lovey-dovey during requirement specification phase, and afterwards, too, or so I thought. Now this." Maggie (CIO): “Anything else?“ Craig (IS manager): “Well recently there were these two other emails.”
Course on Project Management History … Craig, I'm sorry to dump this on you by E-mail, but I have been unable to reach you in person today by phone, and I'm at the end of my rope here. I find that I will no longer be able to perform my job to the high standards that I generally deliver if I must continue to work with Penny. Although she is not my supervisor, she behaves as if she were, causing stress within our team and making us feel like we're giving sub-par service to the clients. She has also insinuated, on several occasions, that my performance review and my bonus will be affected if I do not obey her instructions. To the best of my understanding, Penny is my equal in this organization, not my superior. I was under the impression that Penelope and I were to be teammates on the EHR project. In fact, since I have several years more experience than her, I was more than happy to shoulder the responsibility of being the unofficial team leader. I (we) are not going to be able to deliver a seamless public-relations campaign to this client on time. I (we) will not be able to deliver any sort of coherent campaign to them at all if I have to spend 90% of my time defending myself in front of the client and responding to allegations that she makes privately and in the team's intranet chat room, and only 10% of my time working. Craig, I trust that you will deal with this situation promptly. I look forward to hearing from you. Allison
Course on Project Management So I called … Craig (IS Manager) to Maggie (CIO) : "Of course, when I received that message, I immediately E-mailed back and suggested that the three of us-Penny, Allison, and I -- meet later in the week, face-to-face. I didn't E-mail Penny at that time; I wanted to see what Allison's schedule looked like, and I also wanted to get a handle on whether the situation was as serious as it looked in print. You have to know Allison, even on a good day, she overreacts. But then she bounces back. She explodes, she cries, and then she's fine. That's how she operates. Anyway, in her reply, Allison said that she wouldn't be able to come into the office until next Monday. So I thought, fine, she's past the explosion; we'll leave it at that. I called Penny the next day and was not able to reach her but left her a message that we need to talk about progress in the EHR implementation and she sent me this email. Penny isn't the official team leader, Allison was right in her email. But I do tend to meet with Penny in person more than I do with the others because she is generally in the office more.
Course on Project Management History … Craig, I'm next in the office tomorrow. Let's plan to meet at 10:00, if that's okay with you. The EHR system is moving along, but I'm glad that you checked in because there is a situation I need to discuss with you in person. So that you won't be blindsided, I think you should know that it has to do with Allison. Her performance has been extremely erratic lately, and I think you will need to step in and at least have a talk with her. Thanks, Penny
Course on Project Management Meeting with Penny Craig (IS manager) to Maggie (CIO): "What could I say -- `No, I won't meet with you until I can meet with both of you?' Remember, I didn't think that there was real trouble brewing at that point. Anyway, I did meet with Penny Thursday morning, and we talked about the EHR system. I did not say anything about Allison being upset, but I did ask Penny about the mention of Allison in her E-mail. Penny said that we didn't need to talk about it right then. She said there had been some tension, but she and Allison were working it out. It was much later in the afternoon when I got the final message from Allison."
Course on Project Management Meeting with Penny Maggie (CIO) to Craig(IS manager): "This is quite troubling. Watching you handle a group of 20 people working at different times and from different locations was giving us the idea that it was almost time to roll out a department wide flextime experiment. But now it looks like we may have been wrong." Craig (IS manager) to Maggie (CIO): "Regardless, I'm facing a problem here, and I don't know what to do. I'm not here to analyze or defend the way my department works. For the record -- and you know this is the case -- we are doing the best work we've ever done. But yes, you should consider rolling out a flextime, off-site program. Look at how our computer programmers work on the road. When they meet, their teammates don't have to wait until they return for a full report. They use the intranet chat room to get caught up and push ahead in real time, and our project managers go back to the clinicians that afternoon or the next morning with a fleshed-out plan or a whole set of new ideas. We're not wasting time anymore, and we have a bigger load to prove it. It's just that some days -- today being one of them -- I do feel as though I am totally disconnected from the people I manage, even though I'm more `connected' to them more than I ever have been."
Course on Project Management Meeting with Penny Craig (IS manager) to Maggie (CIO): "It's not that I don't trust them, They're dedicated workers, and they don't take the increased freedom they have with this new arrangement for granted. Allison is a good example, actually. She has to take care of her father now, and the new arrangement lets her work out of her house most days. Penny has two young children at home, and she says that working at home two days a week has really helped her get more work done and at the same time, balance work life and family life. Marc Peterson, John Washington, Meredith Lott, and most of the others are the same -- their schedules are their own, and they're doing good work. The problem is, I don't see them doing their work, and more important, I don't see them interacting as they do their work. Maggie (CIO) to Craig (IS manager): Maybe you've given them too much freedom. As I understand it, each of your employees sets his or her own schedule, save for the meetings you call in the office. Perhaps a more limited flexible arrangement"
Course on Project Management Meeting with Penny Craig (IS manager) to Maggie (CIO): "Sure, if we were starting from scratch. But remember, our arrangement started two and a half years ago when Bob Rothman's wife started working the night shift at the hospital. He wanted to be able to see his wife during the day, so he asked if we could give him a laptop and a modern and let him work at home. He stayed in touch daily, and he pioneered the idea of meeting electronically when he was on the road. The arrangement grew on a case-by-case basis from there. You know the rest of the story. "
Course on Project Management Your Advice What do you advice Maggie should tell Craig? What do you advice Maggie should tell Craig?
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