“What do you think is slowing down the team?” I asked.
Darla did not immediately respond. “I don’t think they like me. I have been their manager now, for three weeks. I know it is a short time to make an assessment, but I would think, by now, they might drop the pretense and be a little more cordial.”
“How long does it take to make a first impression?”
“You mean, from three weeks ago, the first day?” she replied.
“Yes, I assume the assessment of you, by the team, was made within the first three minutes of your landing in your office. By the way, you are the third manager in the past 18 months, so don’t think it is all about you.”
“I know, I know. That was made very clear in my interview, but I thought I was up for the challenge. It’s just that, even in a meeting, I say something, and I sense an imperceptible roll of the eyes in response. We have some new projects I am supposed to roll out, yet, I have never seen a group of people move so slowly.”
“Do you think they are sandbagging you?” I wanted to know.
Darla nodded. “I get the feeling, they think if they stiff-arm me long enough, I will quit, just like the last two managers.”
“If you had to describe the mental state of the team, what words would you use?”
“Defensive, collusive, irrational. I mean I am not a bad person. The projects I am supposed to roll out are good projects, interesting work.”
“So, if the projects are not the problem, and you are not the problem, what is the problem?”
“The words you used, the mental state of the team.”