The Question

// What’s in it for me? – Some entertainment, maybe a sense of déjà vu… and definitely an important question you should ask yourself from time to time //


It is the evening before the start of the first module of the management development programme and Marie is going through the invitation one more time. She has thought of everything. She has filled out the pre-programme questionnaire right away. She is familiar with parts of the preparatory reading and has read the remaining articles on the subway. She has discussed her temporary departure with her supervisor in a hurry. Now is not a good time to participate in the programme. In fact, she doesn’t even have the time to do it. Secretly, however, she craves a welcome distraction. After all, it was announced just yesterday that her team is the only one that has failed to meet its quarterly objectives.

Inside the company everyone keeps saying that she cannot get a grip on her co-workers. According to them, she is way too friendly and hasn’t been successful in her transition from co-worker to manager. At the same time there is talk about her being on the verge of burnout. This hardly comes as a surprise, since she does all the work by herself. Marie feels that she is a disappointment to everyone, most of all to herself. She used to be a winner. Why have things changed?

As has often been the case recently, Marie is late. Covered in sweat, she enters as the participants of the programme are in the middle of introducing themselves. What a great start!

The first module focuses on defining individual standpoints and the role of a manager. A Reflection Guide is there to give support during the entire programme. This person helps to ensure the transfer of learning and is available over the coming days and between the modules. The idea is to discuss problems and challenges of everyday work with the Reflection Guide and to come up with solutions while doing so.

Following the seminar, Marie attends her first reflection session. Patrick, who has been supportive in the background during the entire seminar, is waiting for her. He seems serious, perhaps a little reserved, but there is kindness in his eyes.

Marie starts telling her story and gets carried away. After a while, Patrick interrupts her. “What is it that you want to discuss? You have addressed many problems and all of them are related to your team. Maybe we should look into that.” Marie agrees wholeheartedly. Patrick asks her to imagine what the situation with her team would be like if all problems were solved. He wants to know what her goal in the matter is. She tells him about the quarterly objectives that haven’t been met. After a short reflection things are crystal clear to Marie: “I want to be dedicated to my work and be successful with my team.” She writes her goal down. The discussion continues. Patrick asks a number of questions and Marie answers. Meanwhile, Marie is no longer sure how any of this could possibly help her. She hasn’t even come close to finding a solution and looks at her watch. Ten minutes later the first session is over and she hears Patrick ask: “Marie, what’s your role in the failure to meet objectives with your team?”

What a weird question! Marie feels offended. HER role?! After all, SHE is the one who only wants the best for all! She feels the urge to say just that, but then takes a moment to reflect. She repeats the question to herself and all of a sudden the scales fall from her eyes: She only wants the best for all… In recent weeks she has been a colleague rather than a manager. Whenever her co-workers have failed to do their work properly, she has simply done it herself. Her co-workers haven’t really contributed anything to help her meet the objectives. The sense of motivation inside the team is practically gone. There haven’t been any consequences and she hasn’t changed her course. She should have known better.

The session is over. Patrick asks her to think about his question and wants to continue discussing it in tomorrow’s session.

The question keeps echoing inside her head. “What’s my role in all of this?”

Marie goes home. As it happens, Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror starts playing through her headphones.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *