Thursday, January 31, 2013

All by myself

Can we do everything by ourselves? As managers, we trust the team who works for us for the accuracy, reliability, relevance and consistency of the work they do. And as a manager comes the accountability of accepting the work that they have done – good or bad.

I am a precision freak, I like work being done with close attention to details. Generally I check the work I do so many times that there is very little scope of error. However, with the limited time you get in the corporate world for delivery of projects, it is more often that you split the work to your team members so that the timelines are achieved. As such then, there is not much time to check the work others do for you to the same level of details. And I said earlier, you trust that they will do a good job.

It has just happened with me that I spotted a mistake on an old project I was responsible for. I realised that it was somebody else who worked for me on this project who committed this mistake. I talked to this person to understand why the issue happened. There was no blaming, could have happened with anybody else. However, I feel bad because the piece of work that I had given to this person was a piece where I would have trusted the judgement of this person more than mine on any day. Therefore, the shock is even greater.

Anyways, what is done is done. As somebody who is responsible for this delivery of that project, I take full responsibility of this oversight. I quickly checked to see the impact this would have on the overall project, and it seems quick minimal. Sigh of relief! However, what this teaches me is that I need to be more careful from now on when I use pieces of work done by others for me. But then what is the purpose of having people work for you if you have to check everything all over again? Or you just keep moving on thinking that such situations will occur and as long as the impact is minimal, it does not matter.

Bottom line is you cannot do / check everything yourself. If the CEO of the company does not trust anybody who works for him and decides to do everything himself, would he be able to run a company? In an interview, when Richard Branson was asked how much time he spends on philanthropic activities, he said 90% and added that his company does not need more time than this from him, there are strong people to take care of it.

However, who constitute strong people is really difficult to define. The person who did this work for me was somebody whom I trusted more than I would myself for such work. May be this was just a one-off mistake and I should not take it so seriously. Or maybe there are more such mistakes that will unravel with time. Who knows! But what I know is that we can’t stop trusting each other and we can’t do everything ourselves. There is always going to be team work in this world and human beings will always err. It is down to the individual to decide their error appetite and survive in this world.