Monday, November 4, 2013

Workplace Wisdom VIII..“I want the job done – now”

“The Boss wants his visiting cards – now. I want the expense accounts for the last three month – now. I want 10 prints of this photograph – now, I want the moon – now!” many employees have to cope with such abrupt demands at work and unfortunately, their professional reputation seems to depend more on their responses to such situations rather than on their daily methodical output.  Bosses are wont to ask for just about anything – setting impossible deadlines. And they have been known to be very unfair in their condemnation if their subordinates don’t or can’t rise to the occasion.
 Why do bosses become unreasonable and deny a decent preparation period to their subordinates before expecting them to deliver the goods? Taken by surprise, the juniors tend to get panicky and confused and more likely than not, end up making a mess of the job. The boss’ wrath then descends on them for failing to produce what was wanted and also for fouling up his plans. He doesn’t for a moment pause to blame himself for not being more organized in his own approach.
 Why does this ‘now’ culture prevail in many organizations?  The main cause is the whims and fancies of the BB (Big Boss).  Struck by what he thinks is a brilliant idea, he buzzes for his next-in-line who instead of pointing out the impracticability of the idea and what it calls for, nods his head in intimidated approval, anxious to please the BB.  He then rushes out and passes on the order to his junior, and so on all the way down the line.  At some stage, someone should stop in his or her tracks and question the wisdom of doing a rush job and perhaps have the courage to communicate that whatever is required can be done but not now – and give the reasons why it cannot or should not be done in a hurry. These may be construed as excuses, procrastination or ever non-performance but if the person has the courage of his or her convictions that it is physically impossible and truly impractical or self-defeating to attempt a rush job – he or she must say so.
 A good administrator or manager is one who anticipates requirements and gives the juniors enough time to prepare themselves and deliver the goods – to the BB’s satisfaction.  This boils down to organized planning and a methodical approach towards delegation.  Agreed, there are times when a crisis situation arises but in a well-run organization this should be the rare exception, rather than the everyday rule! Subordinates on their part must have their antennae up all the time, and must ensure that their routine work is efficiently carried out and that they are up to date in their assignments. Procrastination of routine work allows no time cushion for unexpected additional work. A well-run organization, like a well-oiled machine, can respond smoothly to an occasional increase in the workload. But at all times, the BB should guard against a fire-fighting approach as a matter of course as efficiency will be the first casualty.
Good planning, anticipation, preparedness – and the BB will not need to table-thump and demand a job – which takes a little while to be well done – to be delivered NOW