This scene stems from my first presentation as a business manager: the names are irrelevant. Indeed, none of those who participated in that meeting is still with the organisation, as far as I know.
The presentation took place one week after I’d been hired, and it was about a strategic decision that was to entail considerable investments, the entity of which would depend on the solution adopted.
How did it go?
All the senior managers and the most influential people in the company attended the meeting.
The attack from the managing director came in the form of a sharp and unexpected reprimand, and I responded by returning it firmly to the sender, maybe too firmly.
I was 39 and felt full of energy and determination.
I had taken the place of a man whom I’d never met, and about whom I had only wanted to know what was strictly necessary, especially as regards the role he had held: it was a form of respect for him since he had lost his job.
My arrival at the company had been heralded with religious expectancy, and everybody was awaiting great things from me.
After that meeting, my relationship with the managing director slowly deteriorated, and I eventually implemented the desired strategic reorientation but for me, my staff and all those who supported me it was a real uphill battle.
To my great expense, I learnt that before reacting to a reprimand, even (and above all) if it is public, it is useful to ask oneself a few questions about the person in front of us:
Only afterwards can a decision be made on whether it is worth reacting and how.
How would I have reacted in hindsight, more than 15 years later?
I’d have listened in silence, and I’d have gone on my way, with determination.
The outcome might not have been any different (I left after 30 months’ work), but maybe I’d have stayed there for longer – which wouldn’t necessarily have been a good thing – and my staff and I might not have had to put so much effort and energy in everything we did.
Has anything similar ever happened to you?