How Can I Be Unfair To My Juniors?

How Can I Be Unfair With My Juniors?

Himali is head Pre-Sales of the Oil and Petrochem (OPC) business unit (BU) at Dynaverse Software, founded in 2002. Dynaverse is a mid sized software services firm with deep domain expertise in a few industries. OPC business unit accounts for about 25% of the business.

At the beginning of 2007, Dynaverse was chasing, and winning, many deals from oil exploration and mining companies.  At any point of time at least 20 proposals were being crafted for existing and new customers.

Customers tend to give vendors very little time to respond to their Request For Proposals (RFP) and thus, Himali had to juggle at least 20 tough deadlines at any given point in time.

Crafting a proposal is tough and smart work. The product team would first design a solution. Estimates for time had to be gotten from the Engineering team, who always seemed to have other priorities. Quality would have to sign off on their testing requirements.  Infra team would determine the bought out hardware and software components required. Project Management had to sign on project risk parameters.

Sales would sign off on pricing. the MD himself would have to give the final go ahead for the proposal.

Response to an RFP requires working various teams not directly within her control.

Himali would end up staying late to meet commitments to these prospects. A lot of time was spent in cajoling other departments to submit their parts of the proposal.

It was a very harried Himali that I met in 2007. The problem of overload was immediate and needed attention.

I asked her why she wasn’t delegating more to her juniors.  The response was very interesting.

Himali: “It is not fair to my juniors to give them such unreasonable deadlines.  Having to convince other departments to get their parts done in time, is not easy.”

Me: But why can’t they deal with it. After all they should also be responsible for the success of Pre-Sales.

Himali: I feel that I must be fair to them at all times.

Clearly, a strongly held belief about life was at work here.

I tried to explain that that was the nature of the beast.  Pre-sales is stressful and always works on short deadlines. She was not convinced. I tried another approach.

Me: When you were a junior, how did your manager deal with it?

Himali: He never bothered. I was left to fend for myself.  I had to beg, borrow, steal to get things done.

Me: What happened as a result?

Himali: Come to think of it, I learnt a huge lot. Very fast. I am what I am today thanks to that.

Me: Do you want your juniors to be successful?

Himali: Of course!

Me: Then why do you rob them of their chance to learn?

Himali was dumbstruck.

Me: Let your juniors deal with the situations. They will learn a lot more.  By trying to protect them, you actually prevent them from growing.

Himali: I never saw it that way.  But I realize that it’s a big mistake.  I promise to change.

Me: I am sure you will be very happy with this new approach.

Himali: Actually, my son will be happier.

 

 

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rahul on July 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Very Practical Story ! Inline with my experiences too !! 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted on behalf of Manjiri Sule

    Bhushan,
    Delegation model works with a balanced approach. (1) Invest in team and time so that they learn and you make yourself redundant to take up additional/higher responsibilities and hence create the grow opportunities for both versus (2) be prepared to fire fight last minute and ensure delivery and quality because finally you own it and you are accountable. It’s not easy but must be achieved.

    Thank you for reminding of a very close to heart dilemma. 🙂

    Reply

  3. You have raised important points on the pre-requisites for delegation to be successful. Will write about this soon.

    Reply

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