Q. I am in charge of a manufacturing division at a sizable company. We work directly with the engineers who design the products we build.
Unfortunately, I have been having difficulties with the engineering department. It seems that almost every month these people feel compelled to do something that will make us miss our deadline.
Either they deliver information to us late or they make some mistake that must be corrected later during the time we should be getting out the product.
I really don't want to alienate the head of engineering because we need to get along. But I somehow have to make him understand my concerns.
A. You need to be pragmatic about this situation. You have very few options. The head of engineering is not under your supervision, so you have no direct authority over him. Complaining to your boss is unlikely to fix the problem, but it is almost certain to generate a lot of resentment and make it even harder for you to get your job done.
Instead, roll up your sleeves and try to become part of the solution.
Assign some of your employees to the task of working with the engineering department to prevent the type of problems you describe from recurring.
Let these employees work with their counterparts early in the process to make sure that the work will get done right and on time. This way, if they encounter problems, you'll have time to go to work on them without holding up manufacturing.
You might even find that you can make changes in your own operation that will make it easier for new designs to be accepted.
A reader responds: "I read your response to the individual whose boss is a bully. I hope your advice of standing up to his or her boss worked for this individual.
"A similar tack didn't work for me.
"I worked at a Fortune 500 company for just such a boss. He conducted himself in an unprofessional manner, berated employees in front of co-workers and screamed at people so loudly that it could be heard through doors.
"I went to my manager and to human resources to complain about his behavior. They took his side and told me that I was a poor performer.
"Within six months, my job was eliminated, and I was out. The squeaky wheel got replaced!
"Next time, I'll just go job hunting -- and vote with my feet."
Standing up to an abusing boss has its risks. Voting with your feet is a good way of dealing with an unacceptable situation as well.
My main point is that putting up with such a situation indefinitely will have the worst long-term impact on the individual: loss of self-esteem and confidence.
Andrew Grove is chief executive of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., and an author and lecturer on management. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Dr., San Jose, Calif. 95190.