The Manager's Bermuda Triangle

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Hi there!!

Russell Stratton, president and leadership champion with Bluegem Learning. I work with organizations just like yours to help managers improve individual and team performance so they get even better results for your business. In the last couple of VLOGS I've been discussing the topic of Leading from the Middle and there's been a lot of emphasis on how we can lead within the organization when you are in the middle of the organization and you have people working for you, as well people that you work for, and coworkers at your same level of position. Today I'd like to look specifically at the dynamic between you and the organization as a middle manager, and those you're working externally with.

What I have in mind here is when perhaps you are the contractor for example and you're working with the owner and consultant on a particular project.

This actually came up in a conversation I was having with one of my clients only the other day...

A large scale project that's running here in Calgary worth millions of dollars, and in this case they are the contractor and they are having some issues in terms of negotiating the contract with the owner of the actual contract.

In this example we have a middle manager, negotiating with another middle manager, but in an organization that is not their own. If we go back to our previous vlog where we discussed Leveraging Positional Power, this isn't really going to be appropriate because these people don't work for you.

This means we have to tap into our other power sources personal power, referent, experts and their connection power, and of course get to the real issue at hand. With any sort of negotiation that we're in to with people we must understand that for a particular project thereare usually three simple metrics that must be resolved.

When coaching my client I was able to advise him on how he could direct the conversation to help clearly identify what the problem was.

We could have made assumptions that they automatically were looking for price to be cheaper or for it to be done quicker. When really, the issue in this particular case was it was about the quality of the work.

So step 1 is to make sure that we really understand what the problem was. The second thing that we wanted to consider was making sure that we understood that with The TIME -> COST -> QUALITY Triangle that we don't get lost like the Bermuda Triangle and get lost in the middle of it.

Because the reality in any particular project is that we can't have all those three things at the same time.

Something has to give and if we understand that, then we can start to have the conversation with the other party to see that we can smooth towards that win - win. We can't have something done quickly at a lower cost and be high quality. We have to give up something.

We're either going to have it done quickly at a high quality, but the cost is going to be higher, or we're going to have it at a lower cost, done quickly, but the quality might be affected or it's going to be low cost, high quality, but it's going to take a little bit longer.

One of the things that they found really useful was getting that clear in their mind and it made their conversation with that external partner that much clearer so that they could try and manage that situation as a middle manager to get to a win - win solution. Hopefully you found that information interesting...

Make sure you check out the other vlogs in the series. Subscribe to this channel. I'll see you on the other side.

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"Bluegem Learning & Development and Corporate Culture Shift have presented two very effective and interactive workshops with our organization. Their comedic and engaging presentation style in the ‘Managing the Unmanageable’ workshop has left a lasting impression on our staff. I highly recommend this workshop if you are looking for a valuable, cost effective customer service training option."

- Jeff Gerestein, City of Brooks

"Russell produced a highly engaging HR programme that reflected our organisational issues. He is without doubt an outstanding training deliverer, challenging managers to address what can be difficult HR issues. I highly recommend Russell, and would always seek to engage Russell on future learning development opportunities."

- Sharon Gartland, DSG Consultancy Services

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Russell Stratton

Leadership Champion

RUSSELL STRATTON is an international Leadership Expert, Professionally Certified Trainer and Coach, with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. He is co-author of the book 'I Need to F@#king Talk To You - The Art Of Navigating Difficult Workplace Conversations'.


He is a Master Facilitator for Bluegem Learning's ground breaking "Leadership Success" workshop series - providing a practical toolkit for building engagement and improving individual and team performance. Using live actors in a stop/start forum theatre approach and a combination of dynamic experiential learning techniques, participants come away with a greater ability to actually perform better as employees and leaders in your organization.


He is an accomplished management education, learning & development professional with a proven track record of working with clients in the public, voluntary and private sectors to achieve lasting, measurable step changes in business performance.


Russell works internationally with a wide range of organizational cultures and with all levels from front line customer facing staff to executive management boards. Having worked as both a Personnel Manager and Operational Manager he works at both strategic and tactical levels.

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