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I'm responsible for the setup of a whole range of new servers, to replace older platforms.
This is in a multi-national, with offices across the world.

As such I've had to order servers through each local branch's specific group.
However one branch is falling behind massively.
The server was set up over a month ago, but the user accounts (again created in the branch's own specific AD) were:

  • Only one out of several was created at the time that the server was created (which is usually one step)
  • The ticket was closed
  • I reopened the ticket (the next day)
  • The ticket was deleted (a week later)
  • I created a new ticket for the remaining accounts (again a week later)
  • They were created without proper permissions (a few days later)
  • I created a third ticket to add the permissions

And now I'm 2 weeks after creating the third ticket and it is just sitting there untouched.
I tried having the PM responsible contact them, he was practically ignored.
I tried contacting them directly, and was told I needed a ticket, so at their request I forwarded them the ticket ID (which they had already edited themselves).
I've tried talking to their manager, who did not respond and is now out of office.
I've escalated to my own manager at the end of last week, and he will look into it.

It feels like my work is being blocked by something I can't control, which most likely has nothing to do with me.
I had never worked with this branch before this, and have no history with them.

I feel like I need to do something more.
Have I handled this poorly? Is there something I'm missing?
How do I handle my work being blocked in this manner?

UPDATE:
After a few days the users were re-created (instead of altered), but again incorrectly.
Not wanting to spend any more time on this particular issue. I simply forwarded the mail to my manager, with the wrong parts in bold and a request to once again handle it.

My manager ended up making a few less-than-friendly calls, and a few hours later everything was put in place as required.
I guess not doing anything more was the correct solution.

  • 7
    Possible duplicate of What can I do to make a coworkers lack of effort more visible? – gnat Nov 2 '15 at 9:08
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    @gnat I'm more concerned with what I should do, or how I handle my own work being blocked. Less on how to handle my co-workers as they are distant, not really related to my day to day activities, and I'm unlikely to work with them on anything else. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 9:10
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    Argument against suggested duplicate: the linked question is about how to make inaction visible. The OP already directly told his manager that there is a lack of action so this is hardly a duplicate. – Lilienthal Nov 2 '15 at 10:34
  • @gnat Lelienthal's right, this isn't a duplicate. It's not "how to make a problem caused by lack of effort more visible", it's "what more can I do after making a blocking problem more visible, when I don't know the underlying cause of the blocking problem" (it might be lack of effort, it might be something else) – user568458 Nov 2 '15 at 11:14
  • Please post an update after the issue has been resolved. We get a lot of questions and answers but no follow up to see if they were effective or not. – zindarod Nov 3 '15 at 10:15
69

I feel like I need to do something more.

You don't. You've reported the issue to your manager and since it's interdepartmental and likely political in nature you should let him look into it before doing anything else.

Have I handled this poorly? Is there something I'm missing?

No, you handled this correctly. See below.

How do I handle my work being blocked in this manner?

By doing exactly what you did. You tried to work with the processes the other team told you to use. You contacted them several times to follow up, then escalated your issue to their manager. Since that still didn't resolve anything you escalated the issue to your own manager who is now taking the correct action by looking into the problem and figuring out what's causing the lack of action on their part.

Bottom line, you did what you could. If you're unclear whether you should still be actively trying to resolve the issue with the other team, ask your manager. He may tell you to keep trying but it's more likely that he'll tell you to hold off for now while he contacts the other team to figure out how to proceed.

If you're concerned about the broader picture, ask your manager if you handled it correctly or what you can do differently in the future. He may ask you to report more quickly on delays like this, he may tell you to let him escalate such issues to the other team's manager instead of doing it yourself (if that manager is notoriously uncooperative for instance) or, most likely, he'll tell you that you did fine.

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    If you're right, that's unfortunate. Feeling like you have to do something while not being able to is horribly annoying. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 9:42
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    It is, which is why I recommend you go back to your manager if you're still feeling uneasy about the situation. He should confirm that you don't need to do anything else right now which should put your mind at ease. Letting things go that you can't change is a valuable, arguably crucial, skill to develop in the workplace. – Lilienthal Nov 2 '15 at 9:50
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    ... and in life. – Jörg W Mittag Nov 2 '15 at 10:58
15

You have already done what I would have recommended: "I've escalated to my own manager recently, and he will look into it.". You have done what you can. Now let your manager deal with it.

Keep it in your status reports, as being incomplete and escalated to your manager. That will remind him, if necessary, that it needs his action.

Meanwhile, concentrate on the rest of your work and don't let the problem branch take too much of your attention.

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    I just enacted your suggestion, I put a remark in my ticket stating that this part of it is being blocked, with links to the tickets and a copy of the latest escalation mail. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 9:11
  • @Reaces That is not what I suggested. By "status reports" I meant your reports to your manager. He has a difficult diplomatic problem, and you should not do anything to make it worse. Updating the ticket may be too public, and result in another manager feeling they have to defend their subordinates. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 2 '15 at 9:16
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    I should have communicated this more clearly. The ticket I updated is an internal type of book-keeping, of who does what kind of work when. It is only used within our team, and mostly only reviewed by our manager (and at times our peers when they need to cover for our work). I did not set up a flag post to the world :) My apologies for the confusion. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 9:17
  • @Reaces Ah, now I understand. That is the sort of status reporting I did mean. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 2 '15 at 9:18
12

The only thing that's possibly missing from your list of actions is that you need proof that you contacted your manager and have sufficiently informed your manager of the situation. If you have informed your manager by email you already have proof and this is now your manager's problem.

Stuff like this is why managers exist.

Why not do more, and why do you need proof?

You should not do more because you already asked them to do what they should and are now pushing with no leverage. This can create resentment and cause the other side to be even more uncooperative. Unlike you, your manager has leverage, that's why they are the ones who need to solve this.

You need proof in case your manager is weak. If the manager ignores the situation e.g. because it's too uncomfortable for them, the situation may remain unresolved until it blows up. The manager can then cover their ass by blaming you for the situation, and claim they were never informed of the situation, or were not accurately informed about the situation, which will directly affect your salary and job security in the next performance review. If it ever gets that far you may need to escalate to HR to defend your interests. Before that, the way to defend yourself from being scapegoated is, the first time you get wind of being accused by someone with a higher position on your side of the fence just state to them "I did all I could and was blocked from the other side. I escalated to my PM and later my manager, would you like me to forward you the respective emails?".

Being scapegoated is not at all a likely situation. Most managers are very reasonable people. But because the consequences are so dire, it's prudent to be prepared.

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    I like this answer, cover your back thoroughly, eventually this situation will explode – Kilisi Nov 2 '15 at 11:10
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    +1 and it's not just in case of a weak manager - if the proverbial hits the fan more generally, even if you 100% trust your manager, there might be some kind of internal investigation and it'll be in your interests to have a papertrail or email chain proving that you were one of the good guys doing the right thing. – user568458 Nov 2 '15 at 11:20
9

Write a clear and factual summary of all the steps you've taken, chronologically organised, including specific dates.

Don't make value judgements, just stick to the facts of what's happened when.

At the end explain the consequence of inaction: i.e. the thing that needs to happen can't happen.

Pass this summary to your manager - if they have a clear and factual self-contained statement of the problem that they can pass on to other people, that'll make it easier for them to escalate the matter further.

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    +1 For Write a clear and factual summary of all the steps you've taken. The steps the OP had taken described in the question is not clear to me, at least. – scaaahu Nov 2 '15 at 9:56
  • @scaaahu It's hard to describe it without describing the ticketing procedure involved with the request. If I tell my manager "I created a ticket to create users" he'll know what I mean. He'll also know what the difference is between a ticket closing and deletion. I am however not entirely sure how to communicate this in a post while keeping the post brief. Any advice would be appreciated! – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 10:12
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    @Reaces "I am however not entirely sure how to communicate this in a post while keeping the post brief." Take your question, delete the first paragraph and the last two, and delete anything there that's just explanation for us of things that your boss already knows. Possibly edit it for tone. That's your brief summary. – David Richerby Nov 2 '15 at 10:19
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    @Reaces The time-line in your question is not clear. For example (this is just one example), And now I'm 2 weeks later, Two weeks after what? After you odrdered the servers? Another example, I've escalated to my own manager recently, When exactly is that recently? – scaaahu Nov 2 '15 at 10:22
  • @DavidRicherby I actually meant to say that I didn't understand what scaaahu found unclear. – Reaces Nov 2 '15 at 10:23

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