Category Archives: Trust

Mistakes of Juniors

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This week has been unique in that two of my juniors have managed to make mistakes on two consecutive days.

First it was Lucky. Actually we had to get 2 books printed on an urgent basis. So we made the specs and scope of work for inviting bids from advertising agencies. She prepared a draft note based on our discussions and mailed it to me for checking. She also sent draft letter that was to be sent to agencies after this note was approved. I read the note and found that she had got the two books confused and jumbled up the specs. I corrected the specs and asked her to make same changes in the letter. She got the approvals and sent the mail. Next day when all the sealed bids had been received from agencies, she said one agency guy had called and pointed out the error in specs, as she was telling him something different on phone. She was very hassled, so I told her to calm down and we will see what can be done. I thought over it for few minutes and decided to tell to our boss and ask for her directions. Now I could have gone alone and put the entire blame on her, but I did not do that. I took her along and told boss that there was a mistake and explained the thing to her. She understood did not make too fuss about it and asked us to invite fresh bids. We did so and the issue was resolved. Since Finance was also involved in initial bids, I called up finance guy and said- Lucky had sent mail by mistake and this was how we were tackling. He said ok. Though Lucky sits in front of me and she was not listening. I felt bad in taking her name in front of finance. I had not taken her name in front of our boss. Secondly, I was apprehensive she might have heard in the open hall, so I wanted to come out clear, and said to her- I told finance ur name., though I did not tell ur name to boss. She said-why not sir, when I have made a mistake. Then I realized that I had broken the unwritten code of good conduct by bragging about it. I felt ashamed.

Today, Bob made a blunder. A few thousands calendars had been printed. Bob had supervised the job and today someone pointed out that there was a mistake, so the whole cost was wasted. Bob came to me and told. I kept cool and asked him at what stage the mistake had occurred. He said from the beginning. Bychance boss was not in office and was in a meeting. We asked the printer if the calendars could be salvaged, he said not really. I don’t know why but I was not very perturbed. I told him to remain calm, we will tell boss. It so happened that till late evening boss was in a meeting. So we decided we will tell later. Because if boss comes to know from some other source, she will not like that. And I had learnt from an earlier boss Jim that give negative news to boss first, positive news can wait.

Now I was in fix as there was not much fault of mine. Bob had seen the proofs, sent the okays, checked the final version. I had even asked him if he wanted any help, he said confidently no it’s all in control. Knowing myself, if i go to boss with him, I will end up becoming equally guilty if not more for the fault due to my modesty and definition of leadership. I do not want to be seen as ditching my juniors when they are in trouble. I don’t want to be seen as saying-he made the mistake. He is the culprit, let us hang him. I would rather say-we made the mistake. Boss will automatically believe what I say and consider me equally guilty.

But if I ask Bob to go to boss alone, he will feel deserted and secondly he may say anything to save himself. But that way burden of proving his innocence will be on him. Then I won’t jump and claim role in the mistake. Besides, I always encourage my juniors to go to boss and take responsibility. So they have to go when they make mistakes also.

FInally I have decided that we will go together and I will be cautious in jumping to grab the blame. If boss asks why you did not check- I will tell the truth that I asked him all is well and if my help is required, and bob said no all is well. Besides if every time I save them by sharing the blame equally, they will not get the lesson and become casual. Bob had earlier also made a mistake and he did not learn the lesson since I protected him.

Let us see what boss says.

If the issue does not become too complex, I am also taking it as a learning experience. Since I will have to face many such situations in future. Delegating jobs to my juniors and trusting them. They will make mistakes and I will have to face the brunt. Let us see how Tina tackles this.

BTW, an aside, I told Tom about his profile of activator, and he was not very happy with my assessment and told me so. He though profile fitted Jim and not him.

 

Women bosses

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There was an article in newspaper on how women bosses are perceived differently and how they are far better than they are credited for. That made me think of two women bosses I have had.

One was a terror so to say. She used to shout at the slightest provocation, and that too on small things. All floors in our head office were aware of her loud voice. I caught her backbiting and backstabbing too, even on me at times. She was all good goody to your face but screwed you in your appraisal and rated those persons better who sucked up to her, or did her personal errands. She was more interested in her personal interests, rather than company’s interests. She played politics to ensure that a junior of mine, who was working with her for last 15 years (I came to head office much later) always got better of me. Additional telephone, better seating, better rating, better visibility and better job assignments. Though in front of me, she always criticised him, her bias was very clear. So women bosses also have as many bad qualities as men bosses have, so I don’t get this discrimination thing really. She did have positive side also. She was assertive, protective, woman of her words, caring at times, forthright in negative feedback in her trademark style of course, well-connected, good command over language, resilient, fast and go-getter.

Then there was this another boss who had this image of a tigress, but was very good at heart. She was too cold and calculating though with no personal interest in you whatsoever, self-centred (as most of the bosses are, I don’t know why I have a problem with that always), self-confident bordering on arrogance. For example once I sent her an sms regarding some event she had asked for the day before. Her reply comes- Yes, I know. Well I did not expect a bouquet or commendation but a plain thank-you or even no response would have sufficed. She threw water on my FYI act by snubbing me this way, and this she did a lot. Though I might have also irritated her at times unknowingly. For example, once she appeared for an interview of Board member, I sent her wishes and all, but when she did not get selected, I avoided raising the topic with her, thinking that it might hurt her more. And two days later, in a discussion with juniors in front of her, I said that she might become a board member some day and you will suffer if she goes out. A positive comment delivered at the wrong time. I repented the moment i said it, but the damage was done already. Aniways she adopts the need-to-know principle to perfection which at times is demotivating as you feel out of the loop. She will expect the unexpected from you at times like doing a 30-minute job in 5 minutes. She keeps her calm in big crisis situations but smaller issues ruffle her up and she loses her calm.

But then again compared to other bosses, she respects her time so she respects yours too,, she is polite when she speaks, she is reasonable and understanding if you exclude the time-problem, she shares her experience, she trusts you, she keeps her calm and is well-mannered.

So, that is how I saw my women bosses. Will write on women juniors some other time.

Credibility by Daniel Goleman

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The inventor of a promising new product, a two-chamber air mattress that had the competitive advantage of preserving body heat, tells of talking to a businessman who offered to manufacture and sell the mattresses, giving the inventor a royalty. The businessman, over the course of their conversation, revealed with some pride that he never paid any taxes. How do you do that- the inventor asked. The businessman replied smugly-I keep two sets of books. The inventor asked- So which set of books will you use to record the sales of my mattresses to compute the royalty you owe me.

To that question there was no reply. End of deal.

Credibility stems from integrity. Star performers know that trustworthiness at work translates into letting people know one’s values and principles, intentions and feelings, and acting in ways that are reliably consistent with them. They are forthright about their own mistakes, and confront others about their lapses.

From- Working with EI

Confidant

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I used to call myself dustbin in my previous job and same is happening to me now also. Basically I am lucky and privileged enough that many peers trust me enough to share their personal feelings and experiences with me. Dustbin was a modest way of putting it. But really it is scary.

Happy is doing that a lot often these days and with marvellous ease and nonchalantly. Now just in case the anonymity of this blog is lost, I would just say she shared her previous relations and also the story of her transfer to Delhi, along with other may things. She was perfectly at ease and very nonchalant. I was perplexed and felt honoured that this cynosure of many, trusted me enough to share her deep feelings. So did another colleague who shared how her newly married relation has been tumultuous but she is managing it somehow. Maybe I also show my vulnerability to them that is why they do so. I can list many such female and male colleagues who treat me as confidant.

Even my ex-boss who has treated me, like he did others, a tool, also uses me as a sounding box. He shares a lot of very important and secret details with me. And often says I treat you like my younger brother. Now there seems to be a contrast. Brother and manipulation. But then I thought today that maybe this boss would have treated me like that even if I was his real brother. Another problem being the confidant of ex-boss is that he shares details related to my job but wants me to keep secret from my boss. Which is very difficult for me specially when boss asks pointedly, as I can’t lie easily. So I told ex-boss that he should avoid sharing details with me or do only on need-to-know basis. He did not like it but is doing so now. Having me as a confidant also appears to give him the impression that he can boss around me, even at the risk of me losing the trust of present boss. I refused this also saying I have my limits. This again he did not like, but I do have my limits. I respect him but such is life, it has to go on.

I was privy to the love affair of a cousin as were her real bros and sis long back. But my uncle blamed me for hiding this from him being the eldermost. So that was the downside of it.

But it is a strange, funny, pleasant, honourable and risky feeling being the confidant of so many.