I had an urge to write about this due to an experience I had this morning. I wanted to write because this comes from the viewpoint of an employee and how an employee feels. In addition, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about setting organisational culture and that culture also helps you retain your people aside from monetary and other welfare benefits.
I was required to send an information dissemination email out to certain groups of people, except that this group was too big and I wasn’t sure of the structure of other business entities. As such, I was advised by a superior to pursue it from a top-down approach, and direct the information to the bosses instead and have the bosses decide whom that information should be sent to.
In the next morning after I sent the mail, I received a phone call from one of the bosses whom I have never seen before or interacted with. The first thing that came over was “Am I a mailbox to you?” And he continued with a barrage of questions designed to hint of my incompetence and how he shouldn’t be doing my job for me. All I could do was apologise and tell him that I will sort it out myself. He hung up the phone without an additional word.
The incident left me feeling unnerved and hugely affected. It was a good morning and he ruined it. I tried hard to control my emotions so other people would not realise and I hoped I would not accidentally ruin other people’s mornings as well.
But what made me upset was that I wasn’t incompetent. I could have tried searching for the relevant personnel on the address book, but that might mean that some would not have gotten the necessary information. In addition, I didn’t have a real chance of explaining myself and I felt wronged.
In the field of Neuro-linguistic Programming, one of the presuppositions that we learn is “The Map is not the Territory”. What it means is, our visual representations of the world around us might not be the reality of what has happened. Briefly speaking, what the boss interpret of my actions was different from what I sought to do. I did not seek to look incompetent; I was advised to approach it this way.
However, I realised that it is too late to repair the damage. I’m not talking about the damage of my reputation in the boss’s eye. Rather, the damage of his representation in my mind. I will only be able to see him as someone who called me over the phone to give me a good scolding without finding out the reasons why I did what I did. The relationship is strained, and I have yet to meet the guy in person. I don’t even know how he looks like!
And I think it is really sad that someone you do not know holds such an image of you. Such torn relationships can never be easily mended, and your impression in the eyes of your subordinates will stay bad for some time. All you will appear to be is someone who didn’t care for others, whose ego is bigger than his compassion; someone who was rude.
The question is, why would we want to end up like this? If we did not assume, and approach the person in a different way, we might even gain some respect. For example, calling the person up and telling him “I will help you disseminate the information, but perhaps in the future you can do it this way…”. The subordinate would feel grateful for the advice and your help. He would have respect for you even if the both of you have not met.
Look at the vast difference..feelings of positivity vs negativity.
Also, let it be known that positive emotions are the building blocks of high performing teams. As we seek to become more productive and do more with less, you need all the high performing teams that you can get.
That said, I am also suddenly aware that my own actions can have the same consequences towards my subordinates. It has also given me more control over things I might choose to say and I can effect changes I want to see in the organisation through my sphere of influence. So thank you, that particular boss, for ruining my perfect morning.