Conflicted Priorities Equal Conflicted Behavior

It was 4:45pm and the requirements review meeting had already gone fifteen minutes beyond the scheduled end time. Joe was becoming agitated. He needed to get out the door at 5:00 pm exactly in order to pick up his daughter from soccer practice. The meeting was not showing any signs of wrapping up. He let out a big sigh. He pointedly looked at his watch. Finally Joe blurted out “Who cares if the report displays in landscape or portrait format, just list the fields you need on the report and move on.”

The entire room fell silent. After what seemed like an eternity, Joe’s customer said, “You know we have already run late here, why don’t we wrap up and get together tomorrow to complete our work.” Joe made it out the door by 5:00 pm and arrived in time to pick up his daughter. But Joe found it hard to enjoy the time with his daughter. He kept thinking about the meeting and his outburst. He knew he had not been at his best. He wished that instead of becoming impatient that he had said “Is there a specific business need for the report to be in landscape versus portrait? Do we need to define the page orientation now or can we let the number of fields and the size of the fields on the report dictate this requirement?”

When Joe arrived at work the next morning he called his customer and apologized for his impatience. His customer was more than willing to forgive and forget.

As Joe further analyzed his own behavior he realized that he had been experiencing conflict between supporting his team and supporting his family. When the meeting at the end of the day was running late he was torn between completing the work at hand and his desire to keep his commitment to his daughter. He did not want to be the first one to leave the meeting and he also did not want to be late to pick up his daughter. Unfortunately Joe did not handle this conflict in the best way. Fortunately he did have the presence of mind to apologize to his customer. Joe also realized that although apologizing was the professional thing to do, it would have been better not to owe his customer an apology.

Now that Joe has a better understanding of at least one situation that triggers him to behave less than professionally he can work to devise some mitigating strategies which will help prevent him from landing in this type of situation again.