Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Sandbox
(Originally posted October 29, 2008)

'Sup All,

I had the distinct displeasure of working with a tyrant of a Lead Business Analyst on a project with a health care organization.  This woman was antagonistic by nature and often rubbed people the wrong way, while brown-nosing with the project manager.  She probably had valuable advice to give, but it was always packaged in a gruff, cruel and condescending package and thus, any thing she said went in one ear and out of the other.  You just can’t manage by fear anymore.  It’s a tactic that is outdated and ineffective.  People are too mature to respond to that kind of attitude and quite frankly, deserve better.  I'm not sure if she came from a systems background, but she was a prime example of what you DON'T want to be as a BA Lead.  She could not effectively communicate.  Communication is an integral part of successful project management and is very important in team roles, especially a lead role and especially an Analyst Lead role.  By the time I had been working there for 3-weeks, she had already lost me and much of the rest of the team (even people who weren’t BA’s didn’t like her).  I was not happy with her, her style or her approach to me or my teammates.  I continued to do my  job, because as a professional, that is what you do, but I lost respect for her and was actually relieved when they decided to 'take the project in a different direction' and let us go (and all the other African-American members of the team anyway...interesting).

That experience was not very pleasurable, but I did learn a lot from the experience.  I will pass along to you what I learned sparing you the scars of having to actually deal with a person like this to learn it:
1.  Learn to Communicate Effectively - Everyone has a different management style, but I will bet you dollars to donuts that there is no place in the Effective Managers Book Of Knowledge (if one exists) that states that effective communication involves brow-beating or yelling at people you manage.
2. Don't keep concerns to yourself -.  Keeping my feelings to myself regarding my concerns about her may have helped to alleviate the tension or at least given our Project Manager a 'heads up' that something was amiss.  If you are in a situation where you think that airing your concerns will put you in jeopardy of losing your job, maybe you shouldn't be there.  No one should have to work in a situation in which they feel uncomfortable telling the truth.  As I said before “You deserve better”.
3. Don't burn bridges - This analysts once told me that her own father told her she was a b*tch.  Her own dad told her this.  So you know that you have a bit of a character flaw when the person responsible for your very existence says that you are a 'b*tch'.  Dang. 

Anyway, no matter how 'secure' you feel in your abilities, your ability to communicate with others in a professional and effective manner will go a long way in determining how you are perceived.  The market in this town is very small, so analysts and developers here may run into each other on other projects.  It is best not to ruffle the feathers of someone who could potentially determine whether you are selected to be part of a project or not.  It's just the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.  If it was up to me to hire this individual and my decision was based solely on skills, she would be a shoe-in, however, if it came down to her another individual who had lesser skill, but was more of a team player, she'd be out on her butt.  She was divisive, aggressive and ultimately ineffective as a team member and especially as a team leader.  Why would I want that attitude on my team?

More and more companies are expecting people to be able to work well with others.  Kids who don't play well in the sandbox are not going to do well in situations like this.  If you (like my example here) have issues with working with others, LEARN HOW TO.  Take a communications or management class or a team building class.  Remember the career you save may be your own.


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