You're not the boss of me now...
January 16, 2011 8:29 AM Subscribe
Caution- overbearing colleagues ahead!
My area of expertise is finally being recognized as having actual value in my company by people who previously dismissed it or ignored it. They have come to me for help on a fairly significant project that will reach every one of 500+ users. They are at the "home office" in one city and I am in another "branch" office, 4 hours away.
They presented the project and why they want me involved, with a veneer of ass-kissing I found insulting. It's all for show anyway- I have to particpate. My strategy is to keep quiet and only speak up when I absolutely have to; document everything and ensure as best I can that I can point to their instruction or requirements for every element I contribute. Previous involvement with these people taught me to refrain from assumptions I was on even footing or that my unsolicated input was welcome or expected. When they sense they've pushed that envelope, they quickly backpedal and regurgitate more of the "but you're so good at this we need you" drivel that makes me roll my eyes in disgust, hoping it will cancel out what just happened.
Due to their lack of knowledge about my area, they don't understand the need for most of my questions and requests for information. They interpret this at best as "overcomplication" and at worst as insinuations that they are incompetent. Already, after only one phone meeting, the merest clarification attempts I made were responded to with barely concealed exasperation and sharp refrains of "we really just want to keep it simple."
In my area, how many questions I ask or requirements I try to gather has nothing to do with the level of complexity of the result. The two do not scale proportionally. I know from experience that more work on the front end pays off big later. I can virtually guarantee that if I hold back now, their project will be much less successful than it could be. But the immediate pushback I get is so infuriating that already I wish I could back out.
Have you dealt with this type of situation? My ego is as big as theirs but I'm not invested in power games. I can subjugate that part of myself for this project for my own sanity if I have to. But this may sacrifice overall quality and value to the company with the end product. How can I make this work?