Many years ago I was in a very interesting spot. I was still a regular employee and there was a time crunch on something that was out of my control for a long time. When I finally had the opportunity to really do something I was told that I had to have the problem solved in 2 weeks.
There was no way it could be solved in 2 weeks and I told the person I reported to that very thing. He said he was getting pressure and that he was going to put the pressure on me to get it done. He said there would be no excuses, even though he knew that I had never told him something couldn’t be done before.
How would you have responded?
I sat there for a few seconds thinking about this. I’d been frustrated for months because the powers that be had treated us like hated stepchildren who didn’t matter at all in their lives. I’m as loyal as anyone you’d ever meet but loyalty is a two-way street; I’ve always written that type of thing on this blog.
I hadn’t even been considered for a promotion to the top job in the big city, even though my qualifications and numbers spoke volumes, I’d been handling multiple jobs and I was the highest ranking person in the organization at the time for that job. Not only that but the year before I hadn’t been given the raise I deserved because I’d been told that being above expectations was what was expected of me and that since I had achieved that it was average for me, thus no raise; yeah, right.
I said “If I just up and quit now, walk back to the office, pack my things and go home, do you think you’ll get this done in 2 weeks? Do you think they’ll give you a break because I’m not here any longer?”
Now he had to think about things for a bit. I knew he was feeling a lot of pressure as well and that he was probably in more trouble than me. In the city they had lots of people and consultants to attack their issues; he only had me. And they’d been looking for a reason to take over our little outlying area and, to date, the only thing holding them off was that my department’s performance was much superior to theirs.
He blinked first; I knew he would. He asked that if I could have 3 weeks and any resources whatsoever could I get it done. I told him I needed until the next morning to think about it and consult with my supervisors before I told him our plan. Frankly, I didn’t have a real plan at that moment because the initial news had caught me off guard; we’d been waiting for a resolution for 11 months at this point.
Of course my supervisors and I came up with a plan that involved unlimited overtime, part time personnel to handle certain tasks, and a lot of paper; don’t ask. The thing is, I recognized that in some fashion the potential fiasco would be blamed on me for nondelivery, even after all my years of service, and that I was going to play my hand up front, knowing more about the issues than most people thought I knew. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a stand for yourself and your cause, especially if you’ve evaluated the situation enough to know your own value.
Would I have walked? Indeed! As some would say in a heartbeat, never threaten anything you’re not ready follow through on. At that time I didn’t own a home yet, had saved up a lot of money, and was a pretty hot commodity as I’d turned down 3 other jobs because I liked where I was. But things had been changing and I wasn’t sure I trusted a lot of top suits who were promising something one day and changing it up the next. When people stop being honest… you know…
Back to my question; how would you have responded? Would you have been prepared enough to make a proper decision? Would you have calculated your own worth to make the right decision? What I did might not have been what you could have done but as the old Boy Scout motto warned, “Always Be Prepared”. Let me know in the comments below.