I resolved a created emergency. Now reward me!
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
It is time to stop rewarding people for resolving created emergencies especially when they are the creators. Some people appear to take great pride in burning the midnight oil to complete the job last minute; it is as if their entire self-worth hinges on it. I remember a most interesting performance review where the team involved had rated their performance exceptionally high and were beaming with pride on a job well done. They looked most surprised when I proceeded to inform them that inspite of having 3 months in hand, they had left everything for the nth hour and as a result they had missed execution deadlines, cost targets, produced untested mediocre work and in the bargain created needless stress for the entire extended ecosystem. The fact that they ‘pulled it off’ was not an achievement but an abject failure and I would not reward them for creating an emergency and then resolving it. Tragically, the pride is not in raising the bar and being the best you can be but enjoying a rather strange adrenaline rush from just getting it done somehow.
The cultural shift isn’t easy; suddenly there is no reward for working ridiculously late hours, chasing a poorly planned deadline or rants accompanied by chain smoking. I am often informed that we are not at fault, my boss doesn't take decisions or the client is whimsical. That is true sometimes but I am certain that at every level you can influence the outcome, I know I have throughout my career. It would undoubtedly help if the leader leads by example but even if that doesn’t happen, finding your voice to make it happen is imperative.
I recall one of our partners stating that he had never in his 20-year career been ready 24 hours in advance; and since now he had nothing to do, he would actually enjoy this instead of feeling like a sleep-deprived zombie. The trade show or festive season calendar doesn’t change last minute, we know the dates well in advance and yet people rush around like headless chicken after fritting away the planning months, churning out average work just before the final deadline and patting themselves on the back for putting in a ’night out'.
It is actually incredibly easy to plan, take timely decisions and create work that one can take pride in; if it is fire you wish to put out; join the fire department.