DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in the onboarding process for a new project, and one of the principals is worrying me. There is a lot of tension in leadership. I have the ear of one of the leaders, and right now all I’m hearing is moaning and groaning about internal feuding. It’s making me worry that the work cannot get done due to the bickering. I want to be a confidant to this woman, my contact, but I’m tired of hearing the blow-by-blow of internal drama. And I’m worried that I won’t be effective after I join the team if they can’t get past the fighting. How can I help get them back on track? -- Eyes on the Prize
DEAR EYES ON THE PRIZE: When you talk to your contact, focus on the goals of the project and how to execute them. Agree to listen to the internal conflict for a few minutes, but gently pivot the conversation to the work at hand. Offer to help keep the goals on track. If you sense that the blow-by-blow is consuming too much oxygen, ask her to refocus on the project. Come to your meetings with a list of objectives, timelines and other prompts that can help keep discussions on track. Before you sign any paperwork, make it known that you want to work on this project and that you are concerned about how time-consuming and distracting the in-fighting has become. Offer to help keep the project focused, but make it clear that leadership has to work through their turmoil -- and fast.