Following up on your numerous or somewhat continuous requests for my feedback, please see this letter as a generic one to your precious attention.
First of all, let me thank you for bringing new colours, new experience and very new problems to my business life, and keeping me almost constantly out of my – relatively extensive – comfort zone, thus providing me with the opportunity to grow and develop further in my personal character.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned genuine appreciation towards you, please let me highlight some of those areas where I think some reconciliation on your side might be beneficial. For all of us.
Feedback vs reaction
We all are aware of the role of providing and receiving feedback. That is clear. It has a somewhat healthy volume per day, per week, but – more probably – per month or year. It might also take a formalised, transparent and traceable manner, but surely have to be meaningful, provided that this is a working environment rather than a nursery school. The major difference is that while it is the parents who are paying for their children to be taken care of and educated professionally in a nursery, here, you are hired to perform and contribute to the business results of the company. In financial terms. As well. I am aware that certain experience and also knowledge could only be acquired in practice, on the job, and I am happy to support you on this journey, in exchange for your commitment and devotion towards the corporate goals. Yes, all of them, not only those few ones that you find entertaining. For some minutes.
I would much appreciate not to be asked to react on every mail, sentence, disclosure or piece of thought of yours, immediately, and receive emotional comments and experience a pissed attitude minutes after your self-set internal deadline (expressed most probably in minutes) expired. It gives the impression of immaturity rather than commitment to learn, especially as such reactions have the purpose of feeding your ego rather than improving your skills.
Work-life balance is important. I agree. Although, balance does not mean that you have to have the same as everyone else around you, simply because your workload, career stage, your personal life, your family-related commitments, etc. are different. I would go further and state that we all are different somehow. Partly, due to the circumstances which are out of our competence and partly due to our choices.
I learnt a new expression, “me-time” from you, for which I am very thankful. I agree, it is also very important to find time for ourselves, besides meeting our regular obligations. What I doubt is that you have to find this “me-time” during your contracted working hours. Furthermore, since you are still learning, gaining new experience and need outstanding amount of attention and support (not to mention feedback, per se), I might consider it as a part of your “me-time”. Simply, because it is much less about polishing my parenting skills or fulfilling my mentoring aspirations and more about providing you with the opportunity to grow and to develop yourself. Your “me”. To be accurate.
Teamwork is an important tool, I cannot agree more. Especially, as our whole business is built on cooperative strategies, which means not only to have this approach towards our clients but also towards our business partners and fellow consultants. So far, so good.
However, let me highlight two things. First, we have our own company, own goals, own risks and own investors, too, meaning that we are not sharing ALL the information with all of our clients, business partners and fellow consultants. No, good business relationship does not mean friendship, automatically. I would say these are two different things, two different mindsets. Even if we have friends amongst our clients, business partners or fellow consultants, we have to switch between the different mindsets when working and when going out. In order to stay professional. Professionalism is a complex issue. I am afraid putting it into Google search or checking in Wikipedia might not bring you closer to the essence of it. This is something we have to keep on discussing from time to time.
Second, a team does not necessarily consist of people who are equal in every possible sense. No, I am not referring to a situation imagined by Orwell in 1984. Believe me, there are several different examples in between. Opening the floor for a discussion and alternative suggestion does not mean, that there is an obligation to accept each of them. Furthermore, the fact that one approach has been accepted in a particular context, does not mean that this approach is a universal one. Raising to be inconsistent and confronting me with it in front of the whole team does not increase your value, I am afraid, but underlines how far you really are mentally form the so desired promotion.
Sharing things within a team is also with comments from my side. Yes, I am one of the sceptics of sharing economy, especially in those cases where sharing has more negative than positive consequences. Sharing has to have a predefined extent, has to be voluntary and regulated, especially when it comes to distributing the associated costs and benefits, for sake of transparency and fairness. At least. I am open to discuss any details, but it surely does not mean to use everything and anytime around you, which is not locked or put into legal custody.
Efficiency, as a major economic need is almost as old as capitalism, being one of the main driving forces either exposed or kept hidden. I can tell you that I have heard this term more last week than throughout my 20+ years of professional career. What I do not hear is the tiny little detail of being not an absolute but a relative term. I hear your reasoning about still living with your parents, receiving services – for free – as catering, washing, dry-cleaning, not to mention housing itself, all simply because of efficiency. As per your understanding. Of course. As this seems to be the only perspective. YOURS.
So, efficiency, the reason and the bottom-line of most of the things, has become our daily guest in the office. Not to receive ever a well-formatted, clear and nicely worded letter-draft, or a finished and understandable presentation, an excel with proper headings, source indications, any indication of used calculations, a mail having a beginning like ‘hi’, ‘dear …’, whatsoever, and an end like ‘cheers’, ‘talk soon’, ‘best regards’, so and so, is all – of course – due to efficiency.
Let me tell you that most of our clients gain their first impression from such “inefficient” things like an eye-catching letter, presentation or mail, an understanding voice, some well-positioned questions, or similar things. And – I am afraid – this is the way to get through to show your outstanding sense of efficiency. As an example…
I would also kindly remind you that leaving a pigpen behind you after a working day, in the name of efficiency, might only seem to be efficient from your point of view, but not from the company’s one. Provided that you are the youngest, at the beginning of your career, your hourly rates – which is an expense from the company’s perspective – are the lowest, meaning that the smallest to sacrifice for having a clean office the next day. To use your logic for your better understanding.
I still remember that you came with the following expectations, in this order: being promoted to a leadership role in 1 year, have limited working hours per day, and preferably in a flexible manner, have an interesting task and an international environment. How can I forget….
When I asked what you meant by ‘leadership’, you answered to have subordinates and decision-making power. In that order. I wonder if you had the chance to search for the definition of it in Google or check in Wikipedia. If not, I would encourage you to do so, to have at least a base for further conversations on the content of it. Actually, I am still thinking about how you might want to acquire the so-called people skills, when most of your connections are virtual, you work remotely, and use 3-5 word sentences when mailing or texting. I do not even want to enter into the decision-making issue, provided that you would still require feedback on every single thing you do.
Anyway, I have some bad news for you: leadership roles tend not to be very interesting and entertaining every minute. Need much adaption, understanding, integrity, political skills, patience, humbleness, besides many other things. It tends to bring success only in the very long term, and you might continuously trade-off between your short term and long-term goals. In the meantime, you must invest, stay committed and stick to your original vision, belief, but stay open to adjust your strategy when necessary. Even when you do not receive the expected feedback or receive the opposite of what you think would be fair. It means a constant forward looking approach, parallel to looking behind your back, to see, who is following you, who might be the one who can get prepared on time to take over your role, and continue this story for the benefit of the clients and the actual group of employees.
As a summary, please accept my apologies to make such inefficient decisions such as hiring and keeping young careerist people with very different mindset, expectations and attitude. I am sorry for wasting my “me-time” on delivering speeches, entering into the same discussions every day, and trying to either inspire you or at least make you think. I simply believe in variety, corporate culture, adaptability, and also in that we have to start in small and be consistent while growing.
The more experience you have, the more you can achieve in the future. If you use it wisely. In your own context, according to your own belief. The only thing I am insist is to have one. So please do.
Wish you all the best,