Getting Things Done My Way?

How often do we find ourselves having somebody else to do our work? This may happen for various reasons such as: not having enough time to do the task ourselves, we’re not in the right time or the right place do it, or because it is such a large task that we’d have to work with other people to get it done in time. In a working situation, this thing often happens and wouldn’t it be nice if we could get the thing done our way, as if we do it ourselves?

Nice though it may be, the reality isn’t always that perfect. We often find other people’s work simply doesn’t meet our standard, for various reasons. In a regional company where a friend of the writer works, there was once a case that was relevant to this point. It started with the director’s will to create a new calendar for 2013, it was a routine job for this company, but the lady that usually did this job was busy at the time, therefore the director decided to ask somebody else to do it.

The appointed employee did the assignment immediately after asking a few preliminary questions such as where to go, how many calendars to print, and how much will it cost. After those few questions, he went away and came back an hour later with another question, he was asking for the size of the calendar, he then proceed back to the printing place after he got the answer. A few moment later he once again came back to the office with another question, this time he asked for more money because printing cost had increased from last year. Starting to get on his nerve, the director gave him more than enough money to print a calendar for two years and sent him away once again, this time with a message “I don’t want to see you come back without the calendar! Just make a phone call if you wanted to ask anything, take pictures if you’re still not sure!!!”

The employee went back to the printing place once again, this time with fear from his boss’ anger. After a few phone calls and pictures to verify the calendar, he finally got the approval and was able to come back with relief. However, the calendar didn’t fit the director’s taste and got him even angrier. The director finally decided to have the lady that usually did the calendar to do the assignment, with her own way at her own time, with her own judgment; and she got the calendar done quickly and flawlessly without many questions.

Is there a single person that could bear the blame for this incident? Could it be the employee for not doing the job the director’s way? Or is it the director who couldn’t communicate his expectations well enough? The director for once, could do a better job by empowering his employee instead of getting angry at him. The purpose of empowerment is to get things done “our way” but by somebody else. Getting somebody else to do our job might be easy, but as the incident above shows in order to get the job done “our way” is much more difficult than it actually sounds.

The director’s anger might be considered as one way to empower his employee, but this might not be the best way to get the employee do the job exactly the way he wanted it to be. Instead of anger, providing the employee with an initiative to take all the necessary actions needed to get the calendar done might be better. In fact, the director gave the his other employee exactly that, and the calendar turned out nicely.

Therefore, in order to empower people, leaders need to equip the individual with all the initiatives required to execute the necessary actions (e.g. solve problems, make decisions, improve performance, etc.) to get the things done. Leaders also needs to learn to manage his/her own expectation of the result, by keeping in mind that his/her employee have their own personal way to get the things done. In order to effectively empower other people, leaders also needs to share any necessary information, gave a set of boundaries for the initiatives taken, and also gave a certain amount of autonomy to the individual so that s/he’d have enough room to perform the task given, but also know where to stop and look for advice from their leaders.


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