This is the part II of the blog that I started writing last week.
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a review session involving internal auditors who checked the sales contract document authored by my colleague – a sales lead who I collaborate with by providing a significant portion of the content. What started as an innocuous discussion, turned quickly to an intense scrutiny of many sections of the document, that gave rise to multiple follow up actions and meetings for the week. It also lead to the sticky question: who is responsible for the inadequate quality of content. Made me step back and ask a few hard questions to myself.
The glorified title I have – Engagement Manager – hides a lot of trivial activities to be carried out. For instance, it takes a hell a lot of talking, emailing, negotiating, waiting, worrying and sometimes escalating – to get people from various teams and geographies at short notice to agree on a business proposal. My mom once asked, “You seem to be talking all day, non stop. What do you actually do?”
My role is not trivial however. Ever since I moved into this new job function, i have been super excited by the many facets that come part of it: beyond just being an expert of my line of business, I need to bridge the world of sales and delivery. I act like a diplomat sometimes, representing the huge remote delivery organisation that I was once part of, exhibiting adequate amounts of caution and risk management during the sales process. At the same time, I keep reminding myself that I’m part of the sales set up which requires me to be a catalyst and a collaborator. I feel like a amphibian.
While the fun derived from working with great minds across the organisation (and our demanding customers) keeps me afloat, one is constantly challenged to come up with new ideas and business models that test the limits of our current processes and, the answer relies on innovation and speed.
Alas, speed and accuracy are not the closest of cousins. I guess I got a bit carried away with the peripherals of my job and need to focus on the core part of it. The issue at hand was not just how to fix the quality issues being reported in the document, but also why I did not check the content in prior. Though it is not always feasible to compartmentalise responsibilities between us, my initial reaction was to shift the blame. Deep down however, the lurking sense of guilt hurt me badly.
The mind looked for an easy and lazy way out of this problem. Maybe I’m over worked and burdened with the data deluge. Who am I kidding. I’m paid to pay attention. Isn’t that the most important aspect among others? I remember reading about the sense of duty illustrated by the thousands of inspection workers of Indian Railways. Every day they walk along the vast stretch of rail tracks looking for faults, hammering away any loose bolts. They are paid a pittance for the value they create.
The lesson learnt is to keep focussing on the signal among the noise. Easier said than done. As I scrambled to figure out how to avoid such mishaps in future, my colleague went ahead and fixed the document.
Later that week, a useful one-on-one conversation with my manager helped conclude this episode. I briefed him on the incident and asked how I could split responsibilities with my colleague. I explained the brain fade that occurred to me, and wondered out loud if the workload and the multi-dimensional aspect of my role were key contributors. He heard me out completely and shared some suggestions. He concluded the call saying, “But your role can be described much simpler than what you think: a gate-keeper.” I also felt the words he didn’t utter. Keep the good shit in and the bad shit out.