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Enabling Virtual Team Relationships – Part IX

Alice’s Meeting with Siraj

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII and Part VIII of our story for background information.

Alice wanted to be prepared for her virtual meeting with Siraj. It was only a couple of days away. She wanted to be clear with Siraj that Ali had not complained at all, but rather it was a stakeholder who brought the entire matter to her attention. She was sensitive to preserving the relationship between Siraj and Ali.

Interestingly, she could not figure out what other project Siraj was working on that was distracting him from this key project within the organization. She could not find him listed on any other ongoing projects as a team member.

She decided that during the upcoming meeting with Siraj she would focus on the following:

  • The disconnect in communications between her and Siraj
  • What he was working on that was distracting him from this current project and how she might help to prioritize work
  • What could be done to get this project – and specifically Siraj and Ali’s component – back on track

Siraj was usually very committed on projects to which he was assigned, so Alice wanted to be sure to understand Siraj’s point of view on this situation. This was clearly unlike him.

Prior to the meeting, she asked Siraj to be prepared to discuss his component of the project and to help her to understand what was distracting him from focusing on the project.

The day of the virtual meeting with Siraj arrived. Siraj was obviously concerned – it was apparently in his mannerisms over videoconferencing. Alice told him that she appreciated him taking the time to meet and just wanted to resolve the issue because it was negatively impacting the project and she felt that Ali was put in a bad situation trying to work with the stakeholders when he had such limited experiences. She wanted to help Siraj manage his time so he could continue to commit to this project. Alice was careful to not place blame as she was sensitive to retaining the strong working relationship she had with Siraj and, additionally, by “attacking” him she would only cause conflict that would not help to resolve the situation.

Alice asked Siraj what he was working on that was distracting him from working on this project that he was committed to completing. He told her that one of the managers in the Bangladesh office (where you will recall is where Siraj is located) is heading up a “pet project” and asked Siraj to take on the development role on that project. Siraj did tell this manager that he was working on another project, but the manager insisted he focus on his project as it was important to the Bangladesh office. He told Siraj to have his teammate (Ali) take on the brunt of the work of the other project. Siraj did try to tell him that Ali was very junior, but this manager did not appear to care and again told Siraj that this was an important project for Bangladesh and therefore had priority for all members of the Bangladesh office. Siraj was concerned about his job if he didn’t do what he was asked to do.

Siraj was trying to work on both projects, but just couldn’t do it. He was trying to guide Ali as much as he could – he didn’t want Ali to fail – but it was too much. He was sorry he hadn’t brought Alice into the loop earlier, he was trying to work it out on his own. The project he was working on for the manager in Bangladesh still had a tremendous amount of work to do, so it was not going to be finished anytime soon.

Alice thanked Siraj for his time, promised they would work it out and asked him not to worry. After the videoconference meeting ended, Alice thought about what she needed to do. She decided to reach out to the project sponsor, Jonathan, for assistance. She couldn’t find another resource for her project without having even further behind and she certainly couldn’t let Ali continue to try to accomplish this on his own. Additionally, she didn’t know anything about this Bangladesh project and was hoping the sponsor could fill her in and provide guidance.

Alice emailed Jonathan and asked if they could talk about a resource issue on the project. She noted in the email that she needed his guidance as one of her resources was being asked to work on another project in the Bangladesh office and she was unsure how to best handle it. They scheduled a phone call meeting for the next day.

Part X – The Meeting with the Project Sponsor

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