Change is as good as a vacation

Patience is not one of my strong suits… I do not like waiting for people to do the things I know I can do better. But unfortunately there are only 24hours in a day and to optimize your time, you need to delegate and yes, that requires patience.

The funny thing is that as much as I hate waiting, my love of teaching is a million times stronger. Being able to pass on my knowledge and see that penny dropping moment expression on the faces of someone who is experiencing the magnificent moment of growth that comes from education. For the last year and a half I have been working in an environment where I was slightly in seclusion as far as my job is concerned. No one at my place of work can do my job. They have tried and somehow it always gets really screwed up. So a few weeks ago, I found an excuse to move out my office and relocate to another part of the building where the environment is very different. My job hasn’t changed; the pressure that comes with it and being the only one who can do it – which means if I get sick, I have to go to work otherwise nothing happens and we end up at a standstill – hasn’t changed, the only thing that has changed is the fact that I am surrounded by other people. Unlike the people in my old office, these guys are not on the same management level that I am (wow that sounds rather pompous of me but I don’t know how else to express this). Previously we were all busy in our own worlds talking about the future of the company and complaining about the lack of drive from the operation side and sheer lack of knowledge coming from ‘downstairs’. Now that I am here and get to see these guys all the time, it means I can I ask the questions as it happens instead of having them build up to the point where I need to have a whole 40min meeting discussion all of my queries. And the greatest thing about that is that I can give them guidance and explain why I am asking these specific questions while the event is still fresh in their minds. Plus I get to see them react to it and actually put it into practice or correct them if they misunderstood and it gives them the opportunity to express the challenges they are facing without seeming defensive.

I’m slowly learning to trust my HoD’s and allowing them to take responsibility for their departments and not needing me as much. This was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. Yes, giving up control is hard for me but since I get to train them from scratch, it’s like I’m giving control to a mini-me rather than to a total stranger. Of course they will never do things the way I would do them but that’s the whole point, they should do it differently and hopefully do it better… And of course if you are the one calling the shots, you will make sure that it is followed to the letter and that it succeeds because it is not just some foreign directive that comes from above, it is your own little baby. My favourite part of training is that I get to show all of these people how to be better at what the things they spend a third of their day doing. And it is fun to let go every once and a while. Of course it also frees me up to do all of the other things that I cannot pass on to them yet.

Just today alone, we’ve had discussions about operations and staff management and searched for that pesky little line in a 15page invoice that prevents us from balancing… and we found it! It’s rather weird but doing all of these little things that we generally did not have the time to participate in when I was upstairs is giving me a break from all of the usual chaos of the rest of my job… like they say: a change is as good as a vacation and every time I get to change the conversation from something ‘life or death’ to something ‘mediocre’ it’s like my brain gets to take a break. And I think the fact that I get to spend a little more time with the people who have disappointed me and my team upstairs so much over the last year, is reminding them that we haven’t given up on them yet. Hopefully this new opportunity is not just therapeutic for me but also beneficial for the rest of our company.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that knowledge is most useful when it is shared…

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