Sharmini Wainwright is managing director of Michael Page & Page Personnel Hong Kong. With over 13 years’ experience with PageGroup, she oversees specialist recruitment across finance, financial services, sales & marketing, legal and more.
Face-to-face talk ends office apathy
I work in IT. Recently, my company decided to update the database system, which means thousands of sales and procurement stock keep units must be realigned and updated. But the sales and procurement teams are so unhelpful. We have had meetings explaining the framework and timeline, but the salespeople don’t want to do anything, while the procurement department just keeps throwing the ball to sales. We are the support team and always get blamed for any delay from these two departments. How do I communicate with these people?
You have already spotted the key issue in this scenario – communication. The task itself seems like a common project that would occur every five years or so. However, the chaos and stress seems to be created by the way it is being managed and communicated, rather than with the actual project itself.
I completely understand why you are feeling the way you are. It sounds like the various parties are not taking responsibility for their part of the project. This is very common, as a project may initially sound ‘interesting’ and ‘value-adding’ for participants, until they realise the work involved.
A successful project always requires a project manager to ensure effective communication to all stakeholders and that engagement levels are high. It seems that something may have gone astray on this side.
Is there an opportunity for you to speak with the project manager and share your perspective with him or her? Perhaps he or she is unaware of the current dynamics and may be able to get the other two parties involved.
Alternatively, can you take a bold step and speak one-on-one with the head of procurement and sales? If so, ask what is blocking the process at their end.
Again, sharing your perspective with them may make them realise how much each party relies on the other to get the job done.
The other point to consider is whether the project team needs additional resources to make it happen. Are the sales and procurement teams struggling to find the resources to get the administration component done? Perhaps they can hire a contractor or redeploy another resource internally to assist with this.
Open, direct and verbal communication in these circumstances works best.
I would avoid the use of email (as the tone can be misinterpreted and it can be easily ignored), and confronting the matter shows you actually care about the delivery of the project.