Category Archives: Delegation

My boss and me

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In last one week, 2-3 things happened which resulted in this post.

My boss Tina is very forgetful and sometimes absent-minded. So I am not surprized when she gives credit for my work to other people in front of me, or claims credit for herself. So it was a pleasant surprize when she acknowledged my suggestion. What happened was that an event was to be organised and two booklets were to be printed for the event. While designing was going on I suggested that we can avoid mentioning event date on the book cover so that if event is rescheduled, booklets are usable. She agreed to it. And 2 days later, government announces austerity measures and disallows govt. programmes in 5-star hotels, so our programme is cancelled. Boss expresses happiness that we did not print date on books. In a moment of sucking-up, and since it slipped out of my mind that it was my suggestion, I said- Boss, your foresight was bang on dot. She said-you only suggested it. I ended up having a mix of emotions- guilt for appearing to be sucking up, happy that she accepted my idea, surprized that she acknowledged me and so on.

But in another incident, we were to launch a redone website. So she planned it all with my junior happy. I was also okay since I trust happy, who is boss’s technical advisor and best-rated executive of our department. Happy lined up everything as discussed by her with boss. But being nice she kept me in loop and informed. So on the day of the launch, I let happy and ann manage all the work. Aniways I was not involved in the discussions also so i was a bit upset also. When the launch happened, i was asked to join. Post the function,Tina called me and said- Why don’t you supervise. I told her, happy had discussed with you, and moreover she will think I am interfereing and trying to grab the credit. Tina said-no you need to get involved, i can not go everywhere. I said okay.

Next day she calls a meeting on website, where senior officers from different departments come and take part. She calls happy, ann and others but not me. I am again confused what is her working style. She discusses work directly to my juniors, assigns tasks to them, and then asks me about progress. Am I supposed to beg juniors to tell me what all jobs boss assigned to them. Tina can always tell me and then I can assign. It’s all very confusing.

An aside, yesterday I went to a printer for some urgent job. He remarked-Sir, you are so polite in your dealing that I can not say no to you for any job. It made my day.

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.

 

Juniority

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You must have heard of seniority, so here is my version of the opposite behaviour viz. juniority.

Yesterday only, a junior team member had gone to another town for some official event. I was taking feedback from him on updates from time to time. So when the function was over, after an hour or so, this guy calls me up and says function went well and all. I said, okay and asked him to call up and tell the big boss also.  He replied- I have already done that, which irritated me. I did not say anything to him but was agitated a lot after the call. My reason was that he wanted to jump to the big boss first to grab the credit, and to ensure he is the first one to give the news, and he tells his reporting boss later. In other words, maybe he feared that he tells me first, I will go on jumping to the big boss and claim credit for the news. I thought to myself that he should have known better about me that I am not that sort, I told himself to tell the boss. So his over-smartness made me angry. I tried to give him benefit of doubt in my mind thinking that since boss was also monitoring parallely so there is no harm if he told the boss first. Or maybe boss only called him and he updated. But my anger did not fade away. So I almost decided that I will call him on next working day and tell that he should report things to me first and then to boss. Though there was a fear at the back of my mind that he would pass it on to boss. Well, after some time I mulled over how I behave as a junior. I realized that I also try to give important ideas and news updates to big boss first, and to reporting boss later. And my logic is that my reporting boss is a credit-grabber (which I think I am not, but seems people like this junior perceive me otherwise) and would ignore my contribution while mentioning this to big boss. So I revisited my earlier decision of telling this junior, and decided that I will instead change my attitude and let the juniors tell big boss first if they want to, and instead of saying-Tell big boss, I will just check-Hope you have told big boss. That way I will be able to cross-check if I need to tell the boss or tell the junior to intimate if he has not done already. Secondly, I will not get upset if junior replies-Yes, I have told already.

Second example of juniority also happened yesterday. Actually some very urgent time-bound job is going on and we have to work on three weekend holidays. Inspite of being the senior, I decided to be cooperative and asked my junior, what days would you prefer to come, and she replied- If I have to come, I don’t mind any day, and her tone was very edgy. Well, I was upset again. She is the person who has not been given any other major work, because she is engaged in this urgent job. She has not been asked to come on all three days as a junior. She is being given choice. But she still dares to get angry. Earlier last week also, when I had asked her to go to agency to supervise the ongoing job, she was reluctant saying we don’t have to do much, creative designer has to do it. Then I explained to her, how in an advertising agency designers work as a part of the pool and different client service executives try to get their work done first. So if a client is sitting on their head, the job gets done faster because designer can work on client’s job without being disturbed. If we are not there, and our client service executive is asked to spare the designer for a few hours, he can’t say no, because he has to work with those people daily, and has to ask for such help for himself at times. However, if a client is sitting there, they can’t do much about it. I saw it happening myself even yesterday also, when I went to the agency for supervision. She was not very convinced but went as if to oblige me. Now I feel like my politeness and softness is being taken for granted. And idiot me, I have decided to punish myself on these three days by not calling her at all. I know it will have no impact on her, she will rather enjoy and expect I do it every time.  Wify asked this morning why you are doing it all alone on holidays, no one else in your team. I did not tell her the whole story and gave bullshit that I have to go to office aniways for other jobs, so I will do it as well.  And I have this philosophy that if work has to be done on holidays there is no need for calling 2-3 people, when 1 person can do the job. So either I suffer, or a junior, family-time wise. That is why I gave her the choice but she acted pricey.

So that is juniority for you.

Experience

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As is said, experience comes from failure, and failure comes from experience.

But there is no denying that experience is valuable. One learns a lot with time.

But the extent of learning depends upon the frame of mind. If one observes things and people keenly with a positive frame of mind, learning is better. However if one considers every job as a burden, and is always in rush to finish the job at hand in a negative frame of mind, the learning will definitely be limited.

Then there is a level of general knowledge and subject knowledge, which determines how much and what one can learn. All other factors being same, two individuals with different knowledge levels will have different kind of experiential learning.

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier post about Daniel Goleman and emotional intelligence, intuition is nothing but expertise coupled with presence of mind. So experience can take many shapes and forms.

There can be honing of people skills or emotional intelligence. This will happen with those who take more interest in people either because the job demands or their inclination. For example, people in HR or Sales for that matter need to gain experience of this kind, else they will not attain heights of success.

Domain expertise is another kind of experience that comes with time. For example, in Finance, PR and other niche areas, after a few years, it’s all been there, done that kind of scenario. Such experience enables people to visualise possible scenarios in every situation. They will know what can go wrong in a particular situation. Of course they can not predict the future, but they can minimise the risk factors using their experience.

And if I may say so, experience can make people optimists/positive or pessimists/negative, depending upon their outlook. After going through a crisis, one person can decide to celebrate the success and look forward to newer challenges, whereas another person can curse his luck for being trapped in such a crisis and attribute success to luck. Latter kind of person will try to avoid facing such crisis situations in future.

I have seen experience making people sweeter or bitter, clearly an outcome of their filters and goggles. A simple analogy can explain this. Say, a heavy drinker has two sons.  It may so happen that one of them follows the footsteps of his father and becomes a heavy drinker like him. Another hates his father’s addiction having seen his pitiable condition, and pledges to never drink in his life. In this case, all conditions were same, but one son emulated and the other son did just the reverse, depending upon how they perceived their father’s actions.

I have friends and family members who are so rigid that you would never find them accepting their mistake. They think they are always right, and even if they realise they might be wrong, they behave as smart asses and try to fool others.  Such people will have very limited learning from any life experiences, because their minds are closed to experiential learning. On the other hand, there are people who keep on reading, discussing, observing and are always in learning mode. Such people learn a lot from all kinds of experiences.

Even in my team, I have seen a range of learners. When I pointed out mistake of one person, she did not take it positively. She even bitched about it to other colleagues, which I came to know. From then on I have stopped sharing whatever I know at least, and it is entirely her loss. So by her adamant behaviour she is losing out on experience that I could have shared with her. On the other hand, another colleague was more than receptive when I pointed out few errors. She pointedly asked me to let her know in future also, if some improvements are possible. So clearly she will gain more experience from me, at least to the extent of my limited knowledge.

Another factor that helps of hinders the learning experience is sincerity of the person at work. 1-2 of my team members take ages to complete a job, are not meticulous and are careless. So anytime I have a choice, I avoid giving them new assignments, because I can delegate the work, but responsibility and accountability is mine. So I would rather get the job done by a sincere, careful and methodical person. So careless person, even if he has inclination to learn and improve, will lose out on experience gathering.

That was my experience speaking, what is yours?

 

Delegation

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I believe in delegating with full authority. That is why I assign the tasks among my juniors, and don’t interfere much afterwards, just take feedback from time to time. Though there are problems in this way of delegation. 1-2 juniors don’t do the tasks unless reminded 10 times and much after the time limit is over. They irritate me but I have not been able to find out a workable solution, since being in a public sector, as a boss I don’t have much say in their career, just a hierarchical boss.I can do those jobs myself, but then they will get used to it, and aniways that is not management.

One thing which I need to learn from my happy friend is not only to do hardwork, but also let it be known to people who matter that he does work hard. I have seen him telling an ex-boss, I can’t take more work right now, since I am already overloaded. I can not think of saying so in my life. I will overstay, overstretch, overwork but will never say no. I am not saying I am right. That is why I am observing happy friend (or we call him happy from now on) and trying to learn how to work, and be seen to be working.

Well talking of happy, since I love his attitude, his sincerity, his behaviour, his knowledge, his aptitude and lot of other things, I have made an exception in his case. For example, once I asked him to make a note for providing a car to media person since boss had asked me to. Happy said but that is the job of boss’s PS. I did not expect this answer, so I kept quite, and made the note myself. And from then on, such notes I move myself, I don’t say to PS or to happy, since it is a 1-minute job, and I don’t want to make an issue out of it. I don’t know if I did right or wrong, but maybe this is one of the traits of assertiveness that I need to develop in myself. Time will tell.

Then on other occasion, I asked happy to get draft replies to media query. He said politely  you can give it to x and y, since I have already too much work. Here again I kept quite, did not say that you write in your performance appraisal that you do media queries. So here also I made an exception since I know happy is otherwise an excellent team member.

But today one strange thing happened. Suddenly 203 newspapers sent media queries and we had to gather details from different departments. I gave it to x, since y was on leave, but as per my practice after the above incident, did not give to happy. Besides few months back, happy is not formally reporting to me but to HOD. So I am not always comfortable assigning tasks to him, which he does not like.

Second reason was that I wanted to correct this image of mine that I delegate all work to juniors and sit idle myself. Besides, boss himself works meticulously on media queries so I being 4 levels junior to him, can always assist him in making replies, which I was not doing earlier. I want boss to consider me for Excellent grade next year, after this year’s downgrade. I can try at least. But I don’t want to do it at happy’s cost, since he does deserve excellent grade. So when I was showing one set of replies to boss, happy was also there. Boss suddenly asked happy to do some queries, as he was not doing anything urgent. I felt very awkward, since happy would have thought why I did not give him directly, or did I complain to boss, or why did I not defend saying happy is busy doing other work.

Now I don’t know if boss realized my hesitation in giving media queries to happy, or he observed me doing all queries myself, or something else. But it was awkward. I thought of discussing with happy so that he may not think otherwise, but then I decided against it as of now. I may blurt out someday as we share a lot of views & opinions.