It was the 08th of April, 2016!
I was chosen to be the Facilitator for a Change Management process training initiated by a vertical of my department. The head of the vertical sent a message through a colleague of mine that I would have to arrange the laptop for this training since his Mac Book would not synchronize with the projector.
I have a Chrome book so synchronizing my laptop to the projector was also out of the question. In normal circumstances, a laptop would have been requested from the Technology team and would have been used in the Boardroom.
These were not normal circumstances.
The International Leadership Team of my company was in town and the Board Room was requested from us for their use rendering us “roomless”.
We now had to consider and book an external venue much to everyone’s chagrin. Now at this external venue, synchronizing our laptop machines to the projector were considered a challenge.
However I had a different challenge. I was co-facilitating this training with the Head of the said vertical.
And considering it was his initiative, I couldn’t understand why the responsibility of arranging this machine fell on me. I could have understood if we were in different locations or he didn’t have a team!.
However, he was in the same location as I and had 3 team members compared to me who has none. I also had a challenge understanding why the message was conveyed to me indirectly.
Was I unapproachable? Or was this simply to establish hierarchy?!
I am always on the fence on whether I am a true millennial or not. I was born in December,1979 so this is always the confusion.
However, for the purposes of this blog let’s assume that I am a millennial. So how do millennials view hierarchy?
I was reading an article on this subject and it said,”While older generations view organizations in the context of hierarchy, millennials are more focused on collaborating and equality.” (http://teamstrength.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/10-Ways-Millennials-Are-Creating-The-Future-of-Work.pdf)
I frankly couldn’t agree more. We are both Vertical heads.
The vertical head in question and I. Though, he is older in age and experience to me.
But that to me doesn’t mean a thing. I live in a country and belong to a culture where elders are respected and revered but at the same time I don’t agree that age gives entitles you to a license to behave as you please.
And this was the space I was coming from. Why couldn’t he speak to me ,himslef when clearly he needed my help and secondly who died and made him the boss of me?!
What gives him the right to tell me to do things for him and why does he feel hes entitled to my support? I couldn’t wrap my head around these questions.
He was clearly coming from a “command and control” mentality which I didn’t appreciate. I didn’t arrange the laptop.
There were several reasons for it. The top most was that I didn’t want him to think that it was okay to treat me like a minion.
But from a realistic point of view this was his initiative so he must take full accountability. Why shift it onto someone else whilst he remained footloose and fancy free?
Also, I had a busy day. I am handling an important initiate of the organization which attracts a lot of attention from the senior management.
I was on that day in a meeting which was supposed to happen between my boss and the CEO the next day. My boss and I were both refining a presentation deck that we had to use for the CEO.
From 11:00 a.m to 02:25 p.m we refined the deck, followed by the meeting at 02:30 p.m. By the time we wrapped up it was 05:00 p.m. Both my boss were hungry and tired.
At such a time I came back to my desk to a screenplay of pings with underpinnings of sweet manipulations. Things like I will cover this and you can cover that.
All set for tomorrow and such inquiries. I knew that this was leading to the laptop arrangement piece and got busy with more important things.
As I was preparing to leave, he ran behind me and caught me and asked me whether the laptop had been arranged. I said no.
He says, I had “conveyed” that it needs to be arranged and that he didn’t know that he had to come and talk to me in person to get it down. And didn’t I get the message?
I said I got the message alright but didn’t pay much attention to it as I had my own things to do. His body language signaled that he was angry and was expecting me to do it now.
I informed him that I had an Uber waiting and had to get home. He tried to convince me but as I gave solutions to problems it was clear that I was not going to risk missing my Uber for this laptop arrangement.
He turned around and walked off in a huff. I thought this was extremely professional.
I proceeded to my Uber and was on the way home. I tend to dial in my folks at home on the way home and was deep in conversation with my dad when I saw a call coming in from him.
I ignored the first one but when it rang again I took the call. There was livid vertical head on the other side informing me that he was upset hat I had not arranged the laptop.
And that he couldn’t understand why such a big deal had been made in it. To which I responded that I wasn’t aware that I was responsible for logistics when clearly he had a team.
He said his team wasn’t responsible and that it was being done at all other locations by my counterparts and hence it was expected that I do it as well. I disagreed and pointed out that they did it ‘coz his team nor he was there. What was his excuse here?
He ranted on about how uncollaborative and unsupportive I was being. And I made half hearted attempts to defend myself and let her blow steam.
At the end of it, he did run out of steam and hung up on me. Another portrayal of unprofessional behavior.
Mind you we are equals as far as roles are concerned. We have no reporting relationship with each other and in fact report to the same person.
The only place where there is a superiority at play is his age and experience. And I think hes the only one who thinks too much of it.
Having said this I must point out that I did report to him once upon a time, but now due to a strange twist of fate, we are peers. So was he stuck in a time warp where he thought that I was the same person that I was when I was reporting into him?
A lot has changed over the years, my responsibilities as well as my role.
Under him I was diminished to arranging space for training whereas today I handle one of the most important initiatives for the organization. My time is important and valuable. At that moment I was also going through a lot personally having been recently , married, moved to a new city, a new job, a horrible boss and insufferable in laws.
As my manager he never once inquired how things were in my personal life. And frankly I am not the types to leverage on the sympathy.
My head space was different at that time. It’s 3 and half years later now and my head space is completely different.
But perhaps hes not been able to move on or accept this change. I guess its an impression hes made about me?
He does seem to think he’s the cats whiskers and that everyone is below him. Anyway the next day dawned on us and I was wondering how the training will go.
I always ensure I am at the venue before time and reached 40 minutes before the scheduled time here as well. He had already set up the laptop and the sound system.
The Mac book was plugged in! I don’t know if there was remorse for his behavior from the previous evening but boy was there over compensation! I guess my message had been well received .
No one can walk over you till you let them. That’s what I have learnt.
Saying no actually makes people respect you and take you seriously. Or at least think twice before asking you to do something ridiculous like take ownership and accountability for initiatives that were their responsibility in the first place.
Do you face issues in saying no? Try it once its very liberating.
I am not a people pleaser but if you are one and hence find it difficult to say no just be aware that there are enough people out there to take advantage of the fact that you can’t say no. To the extent that they think they are entitled to your support as in this case.
Two simple letters……N…..O……Coming together to form one simple word with immense power! NO!!