Good Grief: Dealing with 5 Personalities You Meet in GRC


How do you navigate around the challenging people you encounter on your GRC journey?

It can’t be Halloween without referencing one of the all-time classics: It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie BrownIn homage to Charles Schultz, we thought we’d use the Peanuts gang to help shape a conversation about the individuals you may run across as part of your GRC journey. Our careers are peppered by a variety of colorful – and recurring – characters. See how many of the following people from the following list that you’ve encountered.

Charlie the Anxious
Charlie is slammed. His schedule overflows with double-booked meetings and his desk looks like an episode of Hoarders. He just can’t say “no” to his friends (no matter how much they mistreat him), and that willingness to help may just lead to his downfall. While Charlie is the key point person for your current problem, you constantly question whether to trouble him with one more issue; he might just lose it

How to deal with this person: Because he’s been designated as the key point person, one approach would be to demonstrate how you can help take some of the weight off his shoulders while still keeping him engaged in the process. Providing a sliver of daylight to his blacked-out schedule can potentially win you an ally in your long-term plans. Be strategic about when and how you engage Charlie. Present only the facts he needs at the critical decision points. Don’t beat around the bush or layer on irrelevant details. This can empower him to make a quick and informed decision before heading back into the mountain of work waiting for him at his desk.

Lucy the Naysayer
Lucy knows the industry. She attends three conferences a year and has a reading list that will last her through the end of the decade. Her knowledge of the failings of every other company makes getting her to buy into change within your own company nearly impossible. While she continues to complain about the failings of the current systems and processes, she torpedoes even the smallest of suggestions you offer. The one time you did get her to jump on board to a new program, you ended up cancelling the kickoff when she pulled away her support at the last minute (she’d heard how a medium-sized business in Scandinavia tried the same thing, but didn’t get as much value out of the idea as the vendor led them to believe).

How to deal with this person: Two words: quick wins. Find out what problem or problems sit at the top of her list and, provided they are aligned with the organization’s overall priorities, work with her to demonstrate a clear and simple solution to a pressing issue. (If nothing else, she’ll know you care.) This gives you credibility and you may start to nudge Lucy away from her contrarian position. You may also need to consider whether she has she been clearly designated as a key project driver OR if she is simply using her organizational relationships to run interference from a less influential position. Lucy may be a prominent team member, but that doesn’t necessarily empower her to have input on every team decision. If this is the case – handle with care! While you may choose to bypass her advice and move a different direction, always ensure you hear Lucy out and don’t diminish her input.

Linus the Dreamer
Linus believes in the good of everybody. Everything is always possible – no matter the deadline, the budget or the idea. He is so impressed by every person he interviews for the open position he proposes opening two new positions so all three finalists can have a job. During any presentation by a technology vendor he is constantly saying, “Wow! That’s great.” He even nods in complete affirmation when the vendor discusses the projected cost savings for the technology over the next 20 years. When Linus builds his project plan, there’s no contingency phase – after all, what could go wrong?

How to deal with this person: While it may be difficult to dash the hopes of the dreamer, a little realism goes a long way. Making abstract items – like project estimates and future timelines – concrete through the use of past examples can help the idealist come back down to earth. Never try to discourage the dreaming (these people often create the concepts that can revolutionize your business), but be quick to help him understand the current options. As the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.”

Snoopy the Laugher
Snoopy comes to work for the social scene. Every Monday he stops by your desk to chat about the game, his latest backyard grilling techniques or the new pain in his lower back. When you asked him to personally follow up with the late responders to the current assessment campaign, it took a week of nagging before he contacted the first person on the list. If he happens to be the admin of your GRC tool, he likely spends more time trying to devise a new color scheme for the upcoming holiday than he does resolving your access control issues.

How to deal with this person: While we have an affinity for fun-loving folks in the workplace, this behavior cannot be at the expense of expectations and responsibilities in the workplace. If the Laugher is acting like a weight around the neck of your project or process it must be addressed immediately. To be fair, you should allow for the benefit of the doubt and address the situation with this individual directly, reminding the person of his or her role and what’s expected. There’s a good chance that the Laugher didn’t fully understand the importance of the situation. However, if this conversation is met with more laughter, it’s time to escalate the concern to the next level in the interest of a successful program.

The Droning Adult
She’s rarely seen or heard from, but when she does appear she spouts industry jargon, buzz words and corporate speak, all of which seems to come off as incoherent mumbling. Any suggestion offered in her direction needs to be translated into a four-phase project plan before it will even be considered. Her interpretation of the phrase, “let’s meet on Wednesday afternoon,” is “assemble the cross-functional delivery team during the mid-week status update to discuss possibilities for continued optimizations.”

How to deal with this person: Seek to understand her thoughts and concerns and try to put them in terms that both of you can understand and agree upon. There could be some very sound advice buried within the corporate speak and industry jargon. These types have obviously taken the time to learn their industry and understand the theory of what you’re doing. Offering to serve as the bridge between their ideal and the current, achievable realities can go a long way in translating their droning into effective conversation.

Takeaways: Leaving this Page with More than Peanuts
So who have you met on your GRC journey? What additional tips would you add to help turn a blockhead into a trusted team member? Too often we get caught up in resolving the tactical aspects of the process and the nuances of the technology. Effecting change in your organization is more about the people than anything else. Be sensitive to the temperaments and sensibilities of the characters around you. We all want to experience that “happy dance” moment when all of our planning and preparation comes together in just the right way. The best way to get there is by getting the buy in and respect of those around you.

–The OrangePoint Team

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2 Responses to Good Grief: Dealing with 5 Personalities You Meet in GRC

  1. Pingback: Oh the Places You’ll Go with GRC | OrangePoint GRC Blog

  2. Pingback: Continuous Improvement and GRC | OrangePoint GRC Blog

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