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I have been hired by company X in order to improve their current launch and post launch process in the supply department. It is a six month internship from july to december for which I have deliverables like any other employee (which is a bit different from the other interns present because they don't work with projects but have operational tasks). They hired an intern because they needed someone who had a fresh vision over their current process and a creative way to solve the issues related to those processes. I guess I was a good fit because this is my end of study internship and I will be graduated right after I'm done in this company.

My Manager teaches me a lot about positive speech, how to approach people, how to communicate in general in order to have something done. For the rest I had to learn by myself through inductions and a lot of research.

For my first mission about the improvement of the launch process I had some issues with collecting the information out of the people in my department because they did not see the point in improving the processes. Now that I have come up with the final process they see the added value of my internship and are working closely with me to put everything together.

For my second mission however, I need to work in relation between my department and another one to improve the post launch process. I have never worked with those people and they seem not to be liking where this is going. From what I've seen they do not like the fact that an intern is questionning what they are doing for several years and don't see the need to improve their processes either.

When I plan a meeting in order to go forward, as my manager asked me to, it is often the case that no one listens to me for an hour. They just talk between each other about other stuff because my meetings are the only times when both departments meet. I send them meeting objectives before and meeting minutes after the meeting but none of them look at any content I am sending. When my manager asks me how the meeting went at our one-on-one weekly meetings, I just say that it was difficult to get things done because I am not credible enough to be doing those meetings on my own. He assisted me a bit for some of the meetings, but when he does not attend the meeting the problem remains.

I feel there is a gap between my boss wanting me to be autonomous and the people from the second department wanting an autority figure to manage the improvement of their post launch process. I don't know how to deal with this situation as I have milestones and deliverables I have to respect and I'm afraid my project is not going forward...

I am getting a bit worried because my boss expressed his will to hire me after the end of my internship and I would not want this problem to be reoccuring If I get hired as an employee. How can I appear as a relevant figure ? How can I get my manager to realise that not getting people's attention is a real problem? What can I do to be taken seriously in these meetings ?

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    There are several small things in your question that make me think "the company will fail in near future". If it does, remember that it is not your fault, but instead of the people not listinging to an coworker unless a manager is present. – deviantfan Oct 10 '16 at 8:57
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    @deviantfan This isn't even close to a red flag situation. OP is an intern who's been sent on a mission that most experienced people would have trouble navigating if they were new to a company. OP: have you actually asked your boss for input yet? As someone managing an intern it's his job to help you navigate precisely this kind of situation. You sound like you previously had a similar problem that you managed to solve yourself and well done there, but make sure that you're not too reluctant to ask for help. (VTC company specific pending update from the OP) – Lilienthal Oct 10 '16 at 9:29
  • @Lilienthal Yes I have asked him for his imput. He doesn't have a good vision over the people I am working with because he is a bit outside of the loop. The problem is that this time of the year is much more demanding now than where I started my first mission. My boss is almost always on business trips which does not allow me to communicate with him as much as I would like to. – MopMop Oct 10 '16 at 9:33
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    @MopMop So you've asked him but what did he say? If he gave a non-answer then you need to make it clear that this is a legitimate issue for you that's blocking your progress on Project A because it's causing problems X, Y and Z. The problem with this question is that we don't know your situation and can't tell you whether you'll have success or what you need to do to get people's attention or buy-in. That's what your manager is for. – Lilienthal Oct 10 '16 at 9:36
  • @Lilienthal I know that it is what my manager is for, but he is never reachable. When I ask him for imput, he just tells me it is not professional from the other employee not to take me seriously and appart from taking part to some meetings with me he doesn't do much about my situation. My manager is the n+1 of the people working with me but they just do not recognise my function when he is not there. They rather spend time on their day to day job rather than improving the processes – MopMop Oct 10 '16 at 9:59
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You were set up to fail. Management may not have done so on purpose, but they did so anyway.

Nobody likes an outsider coming in a reorganizing their processes, they especially don't like it when that person is only going to be there for a short period of time. They think they can delay long enough to outlast your six month internship. They may also believe that any changes they do make can be quickly undone after you leave and your boss loses focus.

If they wanted to get your fresh perspective, management could have run the meetings, and have had you as a member of the team. Management could have then used their power and respect to keep the task moving forward.

On second thought...Management knew exactly what they were doing. The desire to address the problem came from above them. They are meeting the barest requirements, and were able to do it with cheap or free labor.

  • Your answer is perfect, but it does make me very mad and sad at the same time... – MopMop Oct 10 '16 at 12:22
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    @MopMop Sadly, many companies assign the least palatable tasks to interns. The good news is that you are learning a good deal about the dark underbelly of corporate life. People are naturally resistant to change, and there is always push-back. They are basically throwing you to the wolves so that the wolves gnaw on your bones rather than theirs. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Oct 10 '16 at 12:27
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    Your second thought looks spot on to me! – François Gautier Oct 10 '16 at 13:15
  • If it's any consolation, I had a summer internship where I developed an asset-tracking program and, when I came back for an interview, my old team admitted that they hadn't implemented it, and indeed that team was dissolved less than a year later. However the work I put in and the connections I made landed me a full time job elsewhere at the company. That said, while the work you do for an internship may be in vein, the skills and networking are still very valuable. – schil227 Jun 22 '17 at 16:10
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I have never worked with those people and they seem not to be liking where this is going. From what I've seen they do not like the fact that an intern is questionning what they are doing for several years and don't see the need to improve their processes either.

Your post is very vague (perhaps necessarily so), and as a result we need to imagine a bit of what's happening here. It sounds like your improvements are relating to people's processes.

What improvements to their processes are you making? If it involves more automation and less work, people are often behind that. If it involves, well, just about anything else, they often won't be.

Your issue may be one of marketing. Don't focus on the changes that people need to do. Focus on the positive results you're after. Some people will be more prone to "buy in" when they are focused on the pleasant aspects of the work/reward trade.

Now that I have come up with the final process they see the added value of my internship and are working closely with me to put everything together.

I wouldn't necessarily expect much better before you had "the final process" completed. Don't pitch rough ideas to the masses as something that is going to happen. If you communicate a very rough idea, the mindset you need to be communicating needs to be: "I'm looking for feedback. Set me straight. Would this be very good, or very bad?" If you have an unpolished idea which still has problems, and people think you're saying "We're doing this unless I see a compelling reason to change", then you appear to be a meddling bad guy.

It's helpful if you can interact with the affected people early, and just watch what they do (and what their results are) and ask questions. People are often willing to share knowledge; it feels friendly, and many people find that to be fun. If you're approaching people later in the process, you should be later in the process (having already collected a bunch of information, and having some solid plans).

If people aren't paying attention to you, you may need to have a reason why they are required to pay attention to you. They need to know this: What do they get out of paying more attention to you? You need to make sure they know this. And, you need to do this in a way that doesn't harm your friendly relationship with them. That may mean getting some help from an ally who is in a better position with them (such as your management).

It sounds like you've done this already, and noticed management gets their attention better. Figure out why. In some cases, the answer many just be that management pays them and management can create rules that are imposed on them. Realistically, as a person who isn't running the company, you may not get those powerful benefits, but you may be able to get management to be able to use its power to do some specific thing(s) that may help you. Figure out what will help most, and will be least costly (not only financially, but in the forms of time and people's overall good will).

Hint: A bunch of people who make tens and tens of thousands of dollars can be motivationally driven by stupidly inexpensive things like a few top-popularity-branded candy bars tossed to correct/helpful students during a classroom session. (Perhaps the words "employees" and "meetings" would be more applicable: My most dramatic memory of this happened to involve college students in a classroom. Of course, the trendy new way is to tap the interests of more diverse workplace by creatively offering healthier choices. What works best for you will depend on your audience, and this second department that you worked with may be culturally different than the first department you worked with. Learn about them, even if it means failing during a first meeting, so that at least you have a better second meeting.)

  • All-expenses-paid trips to Hawaii are also generally popular. – TOOGAM Jun 22 '17 at 13:47

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