Working with a Bottleneck

Working with a Bottleneck

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

There is someone I work with who is a bottleneck and I need to work with her daily. I’ve tried talking with her and have done everything I can think of to get what I need from her. I’m so frustrated. I’m dependent upon her so I can complete my work. What can I do to get her moving? – Korry in Knoxville, TN 


TINA: This is where your management team can be helpful. First, though, I would literally map out the process of your interaction with this person. What are the steps that should take place to enable the process to flow? By doing this, you will identify the specific areas that need to be addressed. I would review this flow chart with your co-worker for feedback – adjust as necessary. This provides a working tool from which you can develop a solution. If your co-worker is not willing to add to the flow chart, then you have specific evidence that can be presented to your management team for guidance.

LYNN: Korry, I experienced this same situation many years ago. This is what worked for me. First, I talked to my manager and asked for his suggestions on how I could improve the situation. I did not make it about my co-worker. Rather, I was being proactive, positive, and striving for a win-win resolution.

My manager suggested I briefly explain why I needed the material, and when. Stick to the facts. That way my request did not come across as arbitrary. He reminded me to be aware of my tone and choose my words. My frustration could easily be creeping into my communication. Negativity never inspires anyone.

In addition, he pointed out that our styles, mine and my co-worker’s, were very different. He introduced me to the concept of style flexing. Adjusting my style to meet those of another’s and to find common ground. It turned out to be an invaluable skill to learn for my career.

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