I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

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I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

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Managing People

I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

September 11, 2018

A client bought a house to make into a playroom for himself.

There was absolutely no budget, it was just: “Make this thing happen.”

We were basically removing the whole roof from an existing house, and then putting it back so it looked like it hadn't been removed. There were all kinds of crazy huge skylights and openings and slits in it, and the whole thing was made out of teak.

My boss had been going to the meetings with them, but the two of us in the office who were working on it had not. It was only through my boss that we knew the cast of characters—the client, the lead architect. We’d spent months going back and forth internally about this roof, and we had some questions, my coworker and I, for the other architect. So we called her and asked her about it. There was this long silence, and then she said, "That doesn't even exist in the project any more."

She just said straight out: "You guys don't have very good communication over there, do you?"

We hung up and went back to the boss.

"Oh, it's not a big deal, just change this," he said.

"But, Paul, we've been working on this for two weeks and it's completely not relevant."

"It's OK. Let's just change it."

In the end, it's not his time. It's my time.

I just saw the lead architect a couple weeks ago, and she was still laughing about the whole thing. She was like, "Man, you guys had some bad communication in that office." And I thought, great: It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.

“Great. It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.”

At the time, we told our boss that he should make notes after every meeting and go through them with us so that we could be more productive. But he didn't want to bother. Sometimes he wouldn't tell us he was going to the meetings, so he didn't have to check back in. It’s such an engineering thing to do. It's so logical, it makes such sense. On the other hand, it makes absolutely no sense, right?

Once in a while, though, he tried. He came back with these scribbled notes and would just leave them on our desk. We’d be like, "Paul, what's this?" But at least then we could ask what this meant, or that meant. We could be a little more proactive in asking questions about stuff that came up. So it helped a little.

But we were incredibly frustrated. Really, we were both pissed off. It was a pattern of bad communication. Someone doesn't just do this once. And in the end? It was the reason I left.

Article
Managing People

I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

How a horrible experience at work helped one architect realize what he valued most

A client bought a house to make into a playroom for himself.

There was absolutely no budget, it was just: “Make this thing happen.”

We were basically removing the whole roof from an existing house, and then putting it back so it looked like it hadn't been removed. There were all kinds of crazy huge skylights and openings and slits in it, and the whole thing was made out of teak.

My boss had been going to the meetings with them, but the two of us in the office who were working on it had not. It was only through my boss that we knew the cast of characters—the client, the lead architect. We’d spent months going back and forth internally about this roof, and we had some questions, my coworker and I, for the other architect. So we called her and asked her about it. There was this long silence, and then she said, "That doesn't even exist in the project any more."

She just said straight out: "You guys don't have very good communication over there, do you?"

We hung up and went back to the boss.

"Oh, it's not a big deal, just change this," he said.

"But, Paul, we've been working on this for two weeks and it's completely not relevant."

"It's OK. Let's just change it."

In the end, it's not his time. It's my time.

I just saw the lead architect a couple weeks ago, and she was still laughing about the whole thing. She was like, "Man, you guys had some bad communication in that office." And I thought, great: It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.

“Great. It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.”

At the time, we told our boss that he should make notes after every meeting and go through them with us so that we could be more productive. But he didn't want to bother. Sometimes he wouldn't tell us he was going to the meetings, so he didn't have to check back in. It’s such an engineering thing to do. It's so logical, it makes such sense. On the other hand, it makes absolutely no sense, right?

Once in a while, though, he tried. He came back with these scribbled notes and would just leave them on our desk. We’d be like, "Paul, what's this?" But at least then we could ask what this meant, or that meant. We could be a little more proactive in asking questions about stuff that came up. So it helped a little.

But we were incredibly frustrated. Really, we were both pissed off. It was a pattern of bad communication. Someone doesn't just do this once. And in the end? It was the reason I left.

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Article
Managing People

I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

How a horrible experience at work helped one architect realize what he valued most

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Article
Managing People

I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

Prefer Podcasts? You can listen on iTunes, or here:

A client bought a house to make into a playroom for himself.

There was absolutely no budget, it was just: “Make this thing happen.”

We were basically removing the whole roof from an existing house, and then putting it back so it looked like it hadn't been removed. There were all kinds of crazy huge skylights and openings and slits in it, and the whole thing was made out of teak.

My boss had been going to the meetings with them, but the two of us in the office who were working on it had not. It was only through my boss that we knew the cast of characters—the client, the lead architect. We’d spent months going back and forth internally about this roof, and we had some questions, my coworker and I, for the other architect. So we called her and asked her about it. There was this long silence, and then she said, "That doesn't even exist in the project any more."

She just said straight out: "You guys don't have very good communication over there, do you?"

We hung up and went back to the boss.

"Oh, it's not a big deal, just change this," he said.

"But, Paul, we've been working on this for two weeks and it's completely not relevant."

"It's OK. Let's just change it."

In the end, it's not his time. It's my time.

I just saw the lead architect a couple weeks ago, and she was still laughing about the whole thing. She was like, "Man, you guys had some bad communication in that office." And I thought, great: It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.

“Great. It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.”

At the time, we told our boss that he should make notes after every meeting and go through them with us so that we could be more productive. But he didn't want to bother. Sometimes he wouldn't tell us he was going to the meetings, so he didn't have to check back in. It’s such an engineering thing to do. It's so logical, it makes such sense. On the other hand, it makes absolutely no sense, right?

Once in a while, though, he tried. He came back with these scribbled notes and would just leave them on our desk. We’d be like, "Paul, what's this?" But at least then we could ask what this meant, or that meant. We could be a little more proactive in asking questions about stuff that came up. So it helped a little.

But we were incredibly frustrated. Really, we were both pissed off. It was a pattern of bad communication. Someone doesn't just do this once. And in the end? It was the reason I left.

Article
Managing People

I didn’t know how important communication was—until my manager showed how terrible it could be.

Prefer Podcasts? You can listen on iTunes, or here:

A client bought a house to make into a playroom for himself.

There was absolutely no budget, it was just: “Make this thing happen.”

We were basically removing the whole roof from an existing house, and then putting it back so it looked like it hadn't been removed. There were all kinds of crazy huge skylights and openings and slits in it, and the whole thing was made out of teak.

My boss had been going to the meetings with them, but the two of us in the office who were working on it had not. It was only through my boss that we knew the cast of characters—the client, the lead architect. We’d spent months going back and forth internally about this roof, and we had some questions, my coworker and I, for the other architect. So we called her and asked her about it. There was this long silence, and then she said, "That doesn't even exist in the project any more."

She just said straight out: "You guys don't have very good communication over there, do you?"

We hung up and went back to the boss.

"Oh, it's not a big deal, just change this," he said.

"But, Paul, we've been working on this for two weeks and it's completely not relevant."

"It's OK. Let's just change it."

In the end, it's not his time. It's my time.

I just saw the lead architect a couple weeks ago, and she was still laughing about the whole thing. She was like, "Man, you guys had some bad communication in that office." And I thought, great: It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.

“Great. It was so bad that we’re still talking about it two years later.”

At the time, we told our boss that he should make notes after every meeting and go through them with us so that we could be more productive. But he didn't want to bother. Sometimes he wouldn't tell us he was going to the meetings, so he didn't have to check back in. It’s such an engineering thing to do. It's so logical, it makes such sense. On the other hand, it makes absolutely no sense, right?

Once in a while, though, he tried. He came back with these scribbled notes and would just leave them on our desk. We’d be like, "Paul, what's this?" But at least then we could ask what this meant, or that meant. We could be a little more proactive in asking questions about stuff that came up. So it helped a little.

But we were incredibly frustrated. Really, we were both pissed off. It was a pattern of bad communication. Someone doesn't just do this once. And in the end? It was the reason I left.