Help, my colleague/boss is disrupting my projects

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ana74
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Hi all,

I have 5 years of experience as a PM. 2 Months ago I got a new job and I have been assigned to 4 different projects.

The person that hired me is the Head of Development and her Boss, she is a PM too and my role is suppose to be at her same level with the difference that I don't have people reporting to me. She is been my mentor and I have worked with her on her projects until around 3 weeks ago when I got my own projects assigned to me.

There is a complex project running out that involves different areas and I have directed 2 meetings with the team, in the last one 3 people told me it was a good meeting, and today she decided to jump in the project, changed the methodology I was planning to do and basically ran the meeting. The team felt confused but accepted her terms at the end.

Then in another meeting this afternoon she told me it was too long (75 mins), that it went wild and that "we can't go to the meetings without knowing what to do ", well, I sent and agenda, a to-do list and specific actions. I know what I'm doing.

Yes she has 4 years of experience in this company, yes she is the right hand of our common boss, yes I still don't know some of the company jargon, but also there are unfinished projects since 2011 and there is not a sense of urgency in the company. She uses a lot the repression "we need to find it out" instead of who is going to do it and when.

I don't know how to deal with this situation as she is well appreciated in the company as far as I noticed, she is been a nice mentor and she is skilled at doing diagrams and visualizing what needs to get done, I'm more technically skilled than her. We work in the IT department.

How would you to handle this situation?

Thanks
Mohamed.Benmerikhi
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Hi Ana,

I can see the picture quite clearly, but I think the following questions might help you resolve this situation:
  1. Given the short time you have been in the company. Don't you find her interventions a natural thing to do?
  2. Shouldn't you show some inquisitiveness by adressing these issues with her personally? May be she's feeling the waters to see how you would react?
  3. Is she the person you are expected to report to? If so, aren't you supposed to agree a course of action with her prior to sitting in the meeting?
  4. Are you in a probation period? Or are you expected to work autonomously from day 1?
You might say so many questions. But I really believe communication and honesty often soves a lot of these issues.

Hoping that the above questions might clear the maze...
I wish you the best of luck, while I strongly recommend that YOU approach HER in person and have an honest discussion about how you feel about things. Of course, in an informal manner over a cup of tea. You could for example start by asking the following question: CAN I PICK YOUR BRAINS OVER A CUP OF TEA?

Mohamed Benmerikhi
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begeland
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I agree with this statement from Mohamed's response... "I strongly recommend that YOU approach HER in person and have an honest discussion about how you feel about things." Going directly to her is the right thing to do. At least the right FIRST action to take. You may have to go above/around her if this persists.

Here's my concern on this...I think she is feeling threatened by you. She may or may not realize it or be doing all of this intentionally, but I think she is possibly trying to undermine you because she may feel threatened. The best first course of action is treat her like the more experienced PM that she is and seek advice/mentoring from her. If the problem persists - and your performance is not in question as it sounds like it isn't - then you may have to go up the chain further. Understand that you may feel or experience serious repercussions from such action if she is greatly valued...as she is more experienced and may be sided with more easily. Good luck!

Brad
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dhaughey
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I once had a similar situation, where after an approach and actions were agreed for a project, I would find another manager carrying out my actions. I would approach a supplier or resource only to find out the other manager had got there first. It got frustrating as I didn't know where things were a lot of the time. I would get suppliers and resources telling me there had been a change of direction on the project before I knew.

This was a trust issue. The other manager didn't believe I would do, or was capable of doing what was necessary. He's the kind of person that would like to do everything himself, and believes if he could, all issues would be solved and everything would run smoothly. As we know, this is pure folly.

So what did I do? I spoke to him face-to-face and confronted him with the facts. Since then we have sat down and discussed the project approach for our projects and have a much better working relationship.

Hope your issue works out.

Duncan
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