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He Had No Right To Yell At Me. . .And I Happily Let Him

September 11, 2017

Rodney, this is John. I got an email this morning from the Senior Vice President saying that you complained you didn’t get help from my team yesterday.


Why would he think that?

Because I didn’t get help from your team on a client issue.

I can’t believe you would say that! My team supports a lot of internal customers and we can’t just drop everything for you. And Sean joined your bridge even though he was not at all familiar with the issue and he told you he only had 15 minutes before he had to leave and he stayed on for 35 minutes.

John. . John, listen to me. . .

No. I’ve heard all I need to. If this is the response we get when we work with your client. . .I still can’t believe this.

John and I had worked together for four years. We both moved up in the organization. He was a manager in engineering. I’d worked with him and his team on countless occasions. In fact, his team was one of the most responsive teams.

He was absolutely wrong to call and yell at me. If he’d let me explain I could. . .well. . .explain it. His facts were correct as far as that went, but he didn’t know all the facts. I considered getting angry back at him. But, there was really nothing to gain from getting upset. I needed John’s team to help and I needed to use this conversation to build trust, not break it. So, I let him chew me out.

When he’d finally talked himself out, I explained why I sent the email. Sean, was a senior engineer and I’d drug him onto a call I’d been on for hours. Sean really only had 15 minutes before he needed to leave. I even set that expectation with the client.

Sean, one of our engineers will be joining our call. But, he can only stay until 5:30.

It’s probably going to take us longer than that to resolve this. We need your engineers for more than 15 minutes!

I know. And I’ll continue to work on getting another resource. Sean has agreed to join because I asked him. But, he really only has a few minutes and he’s happy to help while I continue to track down someone else.

Sean didn’t stay 15 minutes. He stayed more than twice that long. I tried to subtly get him off the phone after 15 minutes. “Sean, I realize you have other commitments and I want to respect those if you need to take off. I’m still working on getting someone else.” I really hope I didn’t spoil an anniversary dinner or picking up a child from daycare or something. Eventually, John joined the bridge and Sean took off.

But, what John didn’t know was that Sean wasn’t the first engineer I’d talked to about the client issue. Earlier I’d IM’d with James.

JAMES: The local Telco has finished their tests. The LEC tested fine. And earlier we tested our end and it was good.

RODNEY: Does that mean we still have an issue, but it’s with the circuit carrier?

JAMES: Yeah, the client needs to have the circuit carrier test this

RODNEY: Are you available to join a call with the client engineers?

JAMES: I’m not sure what for. Our equipment is getting a yellow alarm from bad signaling coming from the upstream carrier. There is nothing further I’d be able to do or provide

RODNEY: I think their engineers will have some questions about our setup

JAMES: I wouldn’t be able to answer that. I’ve given you all I have Rodney

RODNEY: Is ther anybody on your team that could join?

It was an awkward conversation when I got back on with the client.

I won’t be able to get an engineer to join our call.

What does that mean, Rodney?

It means I don’t have anyone who can join this call. . .I have someone I can reach via instant messaging.

Yeah, that wasn’t a pleasant call when trying to resolve a problem. The email was designed not to get James in trouble. But, I needed some immediate help on the call and then I needed John to educate James on the protocol for dealing with client issues. Eventually, I was able to explain all of this to John on our call. He got a little more calmed down.

Well, I’m sorry, Rodney. You’re right. James should have joined that call. I thought you were complaining about Sean.

I know. And it’s okay. Sean was awesome, by the way. He was a huge help. And don’t feel bad about your reaction. I’ve been a team manager in the past and I totally respect a manager that is willing to defend their people. I don’t blame you a bit.

That team probably still is a little annoyed with me. No one likes an email from a Senior VP. In fact, the SVP reached out to me the next day. I simply said, “John and I got it resolved. He has a plan in place to correct it.” I’ve had managers like John and his reaction is exactly why I like to work with him.

Defend your people. Own your mistakes, but don’t let another team disparage your team. If you later have to apologize because you didn’t have all the facts, at least your team will realize you put them first.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

One Comment
  1. Patricia Nelson permalink

    Can I just say, “You are a fantastic writer that often makes me feel as if I was hearing this conversation live.” It is always a pleasurable read when I catch one of your articles.

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