Wednesday, June 1, 2011

That Thin Borderline

In my 7 years of handling people, I have always been challenged and will continuously be learning from the different personalities that I deal with at work.  Lately, I have been subjected to an obstacle I am faced with and I have admitted in one of my entries that it's so much easier to accomplish a task compared with supervising and molding an individual.  I can fly with rainbow colors with the former, yet pass the latter as easy as a camel going through the eye of a needle.

When I entered the bank, I had wanted to adjust my management style from being a pro-work type to a more lenient, interpersonal working relationship with my staff.  I thought that I was too strict then, and idealistic, to demand something from a subordinate that took me years to appreciate.  I envied Oliver, a colleague at San Miguel, who got perfectly well with his staff (at the expense of being scolded immensely by our manager for not delivering the reports on time).  Then, I enjoyed the praises I got from my superiors, even my CFO and National Sales Manager for the work output I produced, yet at the expense of 'slavering' my staff.  I would require them to work from 9am to 12mn just to finish and wrap up the day's work.  I realized it was unhealthy.

So I adopted the pro-employee management style, I befriended my personnel, opened up to them and eventually became my buddies (point being Ferns become one of my hangout buddies).  Came a time at year-end, when the tasks required by the country we worked with was yet defined, I anticipated that there may be surprises since everybody was caught up with the deliverables and requested all my personnel to stay and wait for the country's requirements to materialize.  I designated Ferns as my officer-in-charge as I was in Cebu that year.  He came back to me and reported that two of his colleagues didn't comply with my requests, had not even texted me and Ferns only found out that they were taking half-days via electronic mail.  I think my BP rose to 130 when I heard his report and from there, things turned out for the worse between me and those 2 personnel.

Late last year, I hired 2 personnel to replace the 2 personnel I mentioned above.  I took pains to scout out these individuals, even playing the HR role so I can personally testify the credibility of the person, and believe me, it took me 3 months to do so, I was that meticulous.  One of those I hired was Jechel.  She showed promise, besides the fact that she was pretty.  She exudes confidence and her accounting background made her a potential to exceed and I explained to her that what matters most for me is personality, because that is what I lack.  I needed somebody to complement me when difficult situations arise and what is brains if you don't have personality.  Leave the brainy details to me.

Now that difficult situation I was talking about came to be.  Over the course of time, she was discussing with me how easy the jobscope was, and she needed more challenge.  Given that she has the potential, I assigned her to consolidate a reporting package that involves reporting to our VP and AVP.  I never anticipated that I will regret that decision..

The team was busy with the forthcoming compliance audit, and since we failed the other year, it was essential that we pass this one, otherwise heads will roll, literally.  One of the key tasks I assigned to her was to print the documents that we missed out.  I was in the mood to sign off these documents and made a follow-up, noticed that there were missing elements to the file.  I pointed them out, in a friendly manner, to which I got this response:

J: 'Di ko pa nagawa'

H: 'Why?'

J: 'Tingnan mo naman ang ginagawa ko, busy ako sa reporting package that you assigned to me!  Di ko na naasikaso yan.'

That was an unexpected response and I could feel the heat rising up to my ears.

H: 'So does that mean that you will neglect your other duties?'

She grew silent seeing that I was fuming already.

Another day passed.  There were deliverables for the team to accomplish that day and she came up to me.

J: 'Hush, magmeeting muna ako'

H: 'regarding what?'

J: 'the team outing we are planning'

H: 'Nope, please tell them that you can't attend.'  I had already planned out to her what we were supposed to achieve that day.

J: 'So hinde na ako aa.ttend ng meeting ever??'

Did I tell her that?  That statement blew whatever patience was left in me.  Did I deserve that retort?  I gave her opportunities to shine, assigned tasks that the VP and AVP would notice, that she could literally mingle and discuss directly her outputs.  I gave her a free-hand in unexpected deliverables, again to make her stand out from the pack, assignments that required her to mingle with other people, to better her interpersonal skills.  I even went to the extent of re-adjusting her work frame because she was having family problems and I didn't want to lose her because of that.  I tried to understand why she reported back after break, tipsy and all red, evidently had a drink or two.  I wholeheartedly discouraged her from having office affairs as this will not do good, especially when you see that person at the premise everyday, but she turned a deaf ear.  At the end of the day, this is what it boiled down to.

I am not one to count whatever good things I do, but those are the thoughts that ran my mind when she responded to me.  I felt betrayed and not respected as a mentor (not even as a superior) and given the minute patience I have, all hell broke loose.  I threw my reviews at her when she wouldn't yield to putting down the phone when I asked her to, since I wanted to discuss things with her.  Admittedly, I should have known better to do so.

How do you draw that thin line between you as her manager and she as her staff, when over time I had treated her as a friend and comrade?  My intention was to bridge the gap between the manager and staff, so that if there is a problem, it is easy to consult with.  I didn't want to seal off entirely the gap, but it seemed I did.  I could only compare to amiga's boss, where they all cowered down whenever their boss arrives.  I did not want that to happen to my team.  I wanted to team to feel at home with me, but not disregarding the idea that I am still their mentor.

I have always pondered, had Jechel just said, 'ok, I'll start doing the missing items you noted in the print-outs', I would have dismissed everything and nothing like this would have happened.  I had wanted to mold her to something that I was never good at, but the clay seemed too rigid already.  Does she really need to itemize the things she did, when I know why already but I just needed a timeline?  What does she want to prove?

Ferns: 'She's becoming the brat that she is' (her rebellious stance with her dad and grandmother).

Well, as for me, I will have to answer HR's administrative notice to me in 5 days.  Good luck. 

*hush hush*