Last year, I had the opportunity of working with some distinct groups of people. Both groups having folks who are masters in their domain; own the people and provide them to people like me who own delivering projects; have their own growth paths where no inputs are sought form us kind of stuff.
When I last worked with those groups, we concluded an assignment and we decided that we would reward the team working on the assignment with small token of appreciation. The token eventually turned out to be much more significant in value that we initially had planned for. However, when I was planning the list of people who should get the same or not, we decided not to include the external groups for some reasons mentioned above aka how they engaged with us, they had their own way of rewarding people that my core team didn’t have. However, the rewards went out and immediately there was a huge hue and cry where as to why those people were excluded. The debate lasted for almost 2 months and finally we decided to pick a few people from those groups and gave them the same reward.
I was sitting today, thinking about the situation in context of something else and i ended up thinking what i would have done if I was the part of that group. I tried to put myself in their shoes and here is how I am playing this in my head right now:
As a worker bee – basically a person who comes in and get the work done. As a worker bee, I would be disappointed that I worked so hard for someone and they didn’t consider me for a reward. My effort would have felt little and i would have felt cheated. At the very least, I would have expected some communication.
As a leader – someone who leads the group and may not have bene involved day in – day out on the project and looks at things from a distance. I would not have any expectation from that other team a reward for me although I might have been providing leadership. I didn’t do anything to make it evident that I was adding value apart from the fact that I was around (or maybe that was the value). But, then if i was a leader on the team, I would have first opened a dialogue with that other team to first understand their perspective and not launch an attack which happened in this case.
The way the leaders on the team played out was – we are offended, you did a bad job, include us or else. Is that really the leadership that one would want to provide. It only went ahead to add distance between the two teams who once interacted very well. I agree that I was at fault as well by not communicating and leaving it to a point when they had to react to it – i could have been more collaborative. But, I would not have done what was done on the other side. Two wrongs done make a right and this one didn’t. There was a reason why those groups didn’t get any rewards and those reasons were important to be communicated. No one did that; no one tried to make it happen.
Two wrongs don’t make a right – in this case it certainly didn’t. And even today after several months since the equation – I have this open nagging feeling in my head – we didn’t work as leaders (me and that other group) to let the people know what was right. We just acted and reacted.