Tag Archives: conflict

Priority Conflict Between Two Managers

“I am getting a service from our accounting department for my project. It’s a big enough project that it has its own budget, so I talked to the accounting manager to see if they could provide five hours a week in project accounting for me,” Roger announced.

“And?” I asked.

“So they assigned Nancy, a junior accountant to do the work. But, the transaction volume in the project is double what we thought, so I really need ten hours per week. I told Nancy and she said she had other work that had to get completed and she could only spend five hours. I told her that was unacceptable.”

“Why was that unacceptable?”

“Well, I am her manager for this project. Isn’t she supposed to do what I tell her?” Roger complained.

“Are you her manager?”

“For this project, yes. She has two managers, her accounting manager for her other work and I am her manager on this project,” he flatly stated.

“And, what if there is a priority conflict in her work between the two of you?”

“She will just have to work a little longer to get it all done. Not my problem.”

“Just to be clear, you expect a junior accountant to make a decision to work overtime, or if she can’t work overtime, to leave some work undone, while she finishes your work?”

It’s Just a Dotted Line on the Org Chart

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. I would like to welcome our new subscribers from workshops in Minneapolis, Des Moines and Austin.

“What do you mean, she doesn’t know she is accountable? It’s very clear to me,” Megan complained. “She has a very clear dotted line to that area of responsibility. I know it’s not her highest priority, but still, she is responsible.”

“So, there is a conflict in her priorities?” I asked.

“Not a conflict, really, she has to get it all done. Just because it’s a dotted line doesn’t mean she can ignore it. Besides, at the bottom of her job description, it says, -and all other duties assigned.- That should cover it.”

“As her manager, what do you observe about the way she handles the conflict in her priorities?” I pressed.

Megan thought. “I think it’s an attitude problem. It’s almost as if she doesn’t care about one part of her job.”

“I thought it was just a dotted line?” I smiled.

Megan stopped cold. “You think the problem is the dotted line?”

“Dotted lines create ambiguity. Ambiguity kills accountability. What do you think?”