Thats not my job! A danger sign that you may need to revise your perspective

A lot of my writing is based on my own experience and self reflection from events on the day I’m writing the article, or blog post. Today’s effort is embarrassingly no different.

I’m working from home right now, and while I have written about the many, many advantages that I perceive I’m getting from this arrangement while in quarantine that doesn’t mean I spend my days in a perfect utopia.

Oh no I have good days and bad days the same as every one else. Today started off badly, very badly for me. On the flip side I have learned an important lesson and moved on, so the day will at least end on a positive note.

So why the negativity and bad start to the day? Well I work with a team of about 20 to 30 individuals who all contribute different skill sets, backgrounds, experience and technical backgrounds to a project. We have people with less than 3 years experience working with us, to folks with over 30 years experience in their chose field. It’s a pretty diverse range of people and skill sets and generally I love every minute of it.

This morning was different though and now that I’m able to reflect on it I’m a bit embarrassed and ashamed that I ignored my emotional intelligence and allowed myself to utter those dreaded words to myself that no one should ever speak “That’s not my job”.

The result was about 2 hours of stomping around, swearing at myself and generally just wasting time, huffing and puffing before I finally tackled the issue.

The issue in this case was a report. Part of the issue is that I have very high standards, sometimes too high and I seek perfection in everything related to my work. Part of the issue however was a lack of attention to detail in the report.

This is a development task for a junior member of the team, who is developing and isn’t always going to get it right the first, second or third time. The person comes from a different culture from me and has a different set of expectations. A large part of my role is to mentor and develop junior members of the team so that they grow in their roles and gain responsibility.

The team member is unwell and the report is due to be submitted today. My first reaction was one of anger, clearly this is not my job, clearly this person has not taken pride in their work, clearly this is an outrage, blah, blah, blah…

3 hours later its revised and The work is ready to be submitted. Is this due to superhuman effort, nope just experience and this is where the lessons I needed to learn become apparent.

1. Did I set a clear expectation of what was expected? No I asked for a report and handed out a template

2. Did I ensure that my colleague understood what was required? No I just asked for a report and handed out a template

3. Did I check that my colleague was familiar with the template and the formatting requirements? No I asked just asked for a report and handed out a template

4. English is not my colleagues first language, did I check that they could navigate the spell checking and grammar tools? No I just asked for a report and handed out a template

This for me honestly is a warning sign, I don’t know how long my perception had been shifted before but its dangerous and now that I have recognised that I can put the steps in place to correct it.

Just as i want to help people, empower and inspire them with my random scribbling online. I strive to do the same thing in my job.

Here I have failed, and I need to now spend the time to rectify the mistake, ensure my team have clear instructions and understanding of the tasks we do and documents that work for them…

Especially when we are working from home and lack face to face communication, now is the time to do some reflection to make sure this isn’t happening in your teams. While online communication is great, I think we still lack the confidence online to tell someone we don’t have the support we need or expect from them.

I have found this one out the hard way, and to say I’m pretty disappointed in myself for today would be a huge understatement.


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