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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

November - 2006 - issue > The Culture Quotient

Are all communication problems same?

Mrityunjay Kumar
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Mrityunjay Kumar
As managers in multinational companies, we have to communicate with teams across different geographies. I present two instances of cross-site team interactions, pointing out the problems.

1. In the first instance, engineer X from the U.S. office wrote a long, complaining mail to a peer Y in India, sending it to the entire team. The India team spent quite some time trying to understand why the nasty mail was sent. We decided Y should call up X and talk. I also decided to talk to his manager’s manager to understand what went wrong.

I asked X if he needed any help in resolving the issue. It turned out that in his frustration at not being heard by Y, he talked to his manager’s manager, which probably didn’t do much good, and then he vented that frustration over the mail. After X and Y spoke, I talked to Y and then X, and both said that they talked a lot and were happy with the outcome.

2. In the second instance the team was stuck with a process issue. The discussions between the sites went on with lots of late night and early morning meetings involving the entire team, with no results. Finally, we decided that each site should designate a representative who would discuss and whatever they agree on, will be binding to both the teams. They quickly came to an agreement, and the teams were finally in sync.

I categorize these as different communication issues. The first happens because often we tend to read between the lines and get anxious. This happens more in cross-site situations, because you can’t go and talk to the person if you do not understand something. As the natural inclination of an engineer is to try and get more information from existing data (the mail in this example), people end up over-analyzing. Sometimes waiting for more data helps to solve the problem more easily.

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