Sunday, October 21, 2007

Second Guessed!

One of the greatest flaws I have to deal with at my current company is our organizational structure. It's a typical hierarchical structure that makes it near impossible to get things done. You have to go through several layers of approval that even something as simple as buying office supplies for your department is an adventure. As a middle manager at my company, when I do actually make a decision and try to avoid the approval traffic jam I get second guessed. Actually I get third, fourth and fifth guessed most of the time as other department heads feel the need to add their opinion because of the political nature of my company.

Recently I made a hiring decision for a position that took 2 years for approval. Basically I had suggested a position be created based on a business need. I had done research and a return on investment analysis to show that the position was needed. Finally after 2 years I hear it is ok to go ahead with hiring for the position. The position gets posted and I begin my interview process. Unlike most of the idiots at my company, I actually have a formal interview form that is designed to link interview questions to key competencies required for a given position. I have been very successful in hiring quality candidates as a result. I go through several interviews, updating my superiors along the way, until I finally make a decision for hire. I submit the decision to HR and an offer is made an accepted (enter the 2nd guessing).

I update my superiors on my hiring decision and am immediately barraged with questions on why I hired who I hired. The one big shot actually began to huff at me and threw out the F bomb a few times, acting like my 3 year old. Now, these guys knew I was interviewing yet took zero interest in being involved. I make a decision and hire someone and get all kinds of theatrics. "Why me" I think to myself as I have to hear big shot after big shot criticize me, without reason, for my decision. As a Turtle I do what I know best. I basically remain silent and take the punishment from these idiots. If I speak up, it will only fuel their criticism further and prolong the agony.

Lesson from the Turtle King: You Can't Get Second Guessed If You Don't Make Decisions

I realized that by making a decision I have gone outside the shell. I should have interviewed but deferred my decision back to the big shots so that they could argue (probably for months) over who to hire. Finally, my recommendation for this position came when I was still a wolf (high performer). Now that I'm a Turtle I should have stated that I didn't think the position was needed any longer, which again would have been "laying low" like the Turtle I am.

If you are at a company that is completely hierarchical, with log jam decision making, being a Turtle is the best way to cope. Why get caught up in the decision process when you can avoid making decisions like everyone else. If you do try and make decisions you'll probably get second, third, and fourth guessed like I did. It's just not worth it.


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