Being the Bad Guy (Or Woman)

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“Though it be honest, it is never good to bring bad news.”

William Shakespeare

A lot of people are mad at me tonight.  Well, maybe it’s not me they’re mad at, but there has not been a shortage of people who have blasted their anger and disappointment my way this evening.

I knew this day was coming, and I have dreaded it.  I have secretly cherished conversations or email exchanges with certain people, because I knew that SOON, they were going to be upset with me.  The ax was going to fall eventually, and they would know the truth, or the results, results that I have already known for about a week.  Having people upset with me is part of my job.  It’s a role that I have voluntarily accepted, however reluctantly.

About six weeks ago, we published a request for proposals (RFP) for consulting teams to contract with my organization.  The project was specific and specialized.  I sent out our RFP to many friends and colleagues.  I had multiple discussions regarding our scope of work.  The entire process was enjoyable and exciting.  Thirteen consulting teams responded to the RFP.  A selection committee of city staff, committee and board members, and myself was assembled to review the two-foot pile of proposals.  The economic development geek in me was as excited as a child in front of a pile of brightly colored gifts.  I couldn’t wait to dig in and begin reading.  That’s how I spent my free time over the holidays.  I read proposal after proposal, and I took copious notes.  I thoroughly enjoyed each one.  I enjoyed the array of ideas and innovative vision that was presented in the responses.

It was a tough decision to narrow the field of thirteen down to a “short list.”  While the committee had hoped to short list three teams, the decision was made to call back six groups.  Each of the six teams was asked to give a 20-minute public presentation followed by a private interview session with the selection committee.  It was a marathon of ideas and vision presented by a field of qualified, talented, and experienced professionals.  I had a personal or professional relationship with members on each of the six teams.  The day of the public presentations was a reunion of sorts.  I was happy to see old friends.  These were people I had known professionally, toured cities with during conferences, shared dinners and drinks, laughed with, and shared stories.  Many of these people had become friends over the past ten years.  I dreaded having to make a decision.  Mostly, I dreaded having to be the one tasked with informing the groups who were not chosen.

Today was the day.  The committee had done their due diligence.  The final selection had been obvious, readily apparent, and unanimous.  The six-week process had been a valuable consensus-building exercise.  The transparency and public input had generated a multitude of interest and positive press.  I’m excited to begin work with the selected team.  I’m optimistic and energized by the experience and expertise they will bring to the table.  BUT…I could not make the announcement of our selection without informing the five other well-qualified teams that they had not made the cut.

The committee crafted an email that would be sent out to the teams not chosen.  It was full of thank-you’s and blah, blah, blah.  I had it scheduled to be sent out at 5:00 p.m.  This meant I had to spend the afternoon making a difficult calls and personal emails prior to the sending of the rejection email.  I thanked my friends, praised their efforts and their vision.  I tried to convey my empathy and regret.  I offered encouragement and spoke of opportunities to work together on future projects.  More blah, blah, blah…

My heart was heavy on my drive home.  I felt drained.  It’s been another exhausting week of meetings, lunches, dinners, and twelve-hour days.  I feel like I have been cold all day and all night, cold clear to my bones.  It’s damn cold.  I haven’t made it to bed until past midnight each day this week.  This morning, I was up at 5:30 a.m.  Sometimes when I wake up, my lamp is still on and I’m still wearing my dorky glasses.  Sometimes, I don’t even remember what day of the week it is.  Thankfully, I do know that the weekend is near.  I’m not complaining.  I love what I’m doing.  Sometimes, I’m so happy that I give a little internal squeal just for the pleasure of being able to have these experiences in my life.  As exhausted as I am, I am aware of the blessings that go along with it all.  I am doing what I love to do.

Tonight has been one of those times when the responsibility has outweighed the joy and opportunities.  Since I have been home tonight, I have spent additional time on the phone soothing bruised egos.  I’ve been yelled at.  I’ve been told that we are making a mistake.  I’ve had a couple of Facebook status jabs directed at me.  I’m feeling kind of sorry for myself right now.  😦

Tomorrow is another day.  People will eventually move past their initial disappointment.  Other projects will take priority in their lives.  Our committee will move forward with their selected team.  Hopefully, good things are on the horizon for us all.

The weekend is around the corner.  I’m going to judge a chili cook-off.  A Sinatra impersonator will be the entertainment, and I love Sinatra!  I’ll spend the rest of my weekend trying to stay warm.  I’ll sit under great-grandma’s blanket and snuggle with the pets.  I’ll giggle with my daughters, and watch movies and college hoops with T.  Maybe I’ll make soup, or brownies, or cookies.  For a couple of days, I’ll rejuvenate and bask in the warmth and comfort of home, friends, and family.

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