The Other Side of the Mirror

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Small break from ballroom because every now and then a random comment triggers a little life lesson.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  I don’t know if that applies to human interaction but it is certainly true that your actions towards others will trigger a reaction.  We all process things through our filters and the reaction may be totally different from the intent.  And, sometimes, you learn something along the way.

Alright, enough of the stuff that doesn’t make sense.  Let’s make this real because that’s why I’m doing this.

We had a contractor leave for bigger and better things and got permission to fill her spot.  I am the administrative boss which just means I get to electronically sign their time cards.  The bulk of the interaction is with the rest of the team and so it was important that they be involved in the selection process.

If you’ve ever applied for a job, you probably have ended up waiting and wondering why the process doesn’t move faster.  Since I’ve been on the inside, I now understand why it can take so long.  Well, the problem is really me.  I’ve got a lot of different things to take care of in a day and screening resumes and setting up interviews takes some time.  Not to mention finding times when I don’t have meetings or other silly things to do.

I realized that if I was going to drive this, then the position would likely still be open in August, so I delegated.  I’ve got someone in my group who is very empathic and lives for this kind of stuff so I gave her the resumes, told her to pick the best candidates and then set up the interviews with the rest of the team.  I told her I didn’t need to be involved because finding a time when I’d be available would just slow down the process.  I really don’t like dumping things like this on others even though it made perfect sense to do so.

They interviewed the last candidate yesterday and discussed it and actually came to a unanimous choice which was communicated to me.  Then, I just dealt with working with the contract agency to figure the bill rate and they will extend the offer.

OK, that’s a lot of detail so now I have to get to the lesson.  I was talking with them today about the process of extending the offer and how it was going to go and one of them said something to the effect that it made her feel good that I trusted them enough to make this decision.

See, I thought I was dumping a task on them and I felt guilty about doing it.  They took it, and ran with it and at least one saw it as a sign of trust.  Instead of feeling like they were dumped on, it actually made at least one of them feel good (I’d use the word empowered but that word needs to die a slow horrible death like other overused and never implemented business jargon).  And, now, I’m actually feeling a little guilty since it wasn’t really my intent and so I’m getting credit for dumping something on them.  There’s another saying about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure.  Not that selecting a candidate is trash but the process you have to go through is not something I enjoy.  And, yet, to at least one person on my team, it was a sign that I truly trusted them and a big positive.

Then, I thought about it some more.  (Yeah, like that’s a big shocker – you had to know I was going to drill down on this thing like a dentist going after a major cavity)  Even though I was getting rid of a task because I didn’t think I could get it done in a timely manner, the question of trust never entered my mind.  It was just clear to me that the people who work closest with the person should have the biggest say in who gets hired.  It just made sense to me.  I knew they were going to take this seriously because we’ve had people who just didn’t fit so I was fine with letting them run with it.   For my part, the trust was assumed and implicit so it was easy to just let it go.

In the end, she was right.  While I was worried about dumping more work on them and feeling like I was shirking my responsibility, I could only do that if I truly trusted them to do the job.

Is there a life lesson?  Maybe not.  If I was more elegant, I’d wrap this up with some kind of slogan that could end up on a motivational poster.  But, I’m not that good.  I tend to just ramble on until I run out of steam or have to get somewhere.  It was just interesting to me how she reacted and I guess it is a reminder that your actions do have an impact and it is just important to remember that when interacting with people.  Especially true when you are in an “authority” position like I am.


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