Keep Your Friends Close, Keep Your Enemies Closer

My recommendation comes from my personal experience, as does Tiffany’s rejection of it.

Granted, I have a history of making relationships work with difficult people. (One particular micromanaging boss leaps instantly to mind whenever the subject of difficult co-workers comes up.) In my session, my response to Tiffany’s point was to tell a story about a particular end-user who was very difficult to deal with. Whenever she encountered a problem, and it was often a self-inflicted problem, she would blame the system, and her angry e-mails to me included my manager, her manager, and the person who managed both of them.

She had apparently learned from some previous situation that if she didn’t do this, she would be ignored or dismissed. I managed her by disregarding e-mail as a response mechanism and not responding defensively to cover myself with my manager (though I did meet privately with my manager and let her know what I was doing), instead dealing with it by calling her directly, taking her concerns seriously, and addressing he problem while never making her feel like I was treating her as if she were stupid, and never blaming her for the problem while showing her what to differently next time to prevent the problem. Doing this, I weaned her from he past behavior (which I’m sure the managers involved appreciated), and turned her into an evangelist for the system, from their biggest critic and complainer into the biggest booster. All it took was making her understand that her issues were being heard and responded to with respect, and quickly and efficiently solving the problem. Which is really all that most complainers want – to be taken seriously, treated respectfully, and for their problem to be solved quickly.

This experience informed my opinion on bringing the most vocal “squeaky wheels” into the governance process. They know what doesn’t work for them, what issues need to be addressed by the governance plan. When their pain is caused by governance or other restrictions, they can help you find workarounds (or help you find the workarounds you want to prevent to keep your users from side-stepping those restrictions), and they can learn why those restrictions exist, and what pain having those restrictions prevents. When they buy into governance, you prevent them from poisoning the well and sowing discontent among the users.

But Tiffany had a case for treating difficult end-users differently.

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Missed the other posts in this series?

SharePoint Saturday Houston Throwdown: Whither the Squeaky Wheel?
Keep Your Friends Close, Keep Your Enemies Far Far Away, guest post by Tiffany Songvilay
The Great Debate: Your Turn!

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