Working with a team of managers last week, we discussed our time management logs and the time thieves we had uncovered. When it is someone senior to us, we are sometimes afraid of letting them know that they are using our time gratuitously without concern for our ‘normal’ responsibilities. Equally, we are often afraid to let them know for fear of their reaction to this insight, especially if they are our ‘sponsors’ within the business. We are often afraid that they will go into denial and start justifying their actions as more important to the business than our usual responsibilities. Worse still they may view us as negative or even ungrateful.
The analogy I used was from a recent experience. I often cook at home and love to please my wife with my latest recipes. I am mindful that my wife has high expectations and I sometimes feel disheartened if she complains of a cold plate or over cooked food. Recently, she made a meal where the chips were rock hard. I sat there waiting for her to acknowledge that she had overcooked the chips. And I waited and waited; to the point were I started to eat with my mouth open so that she could hear the crunch on these teeth busters. Towards the end, she said, ‘I think the chips are overdone’. I burst out laughing and reflected back to her, her likely reaction if I had made the same error. She was mildly irritated by my observation, but I don’t think I will suffer from ‘hard chips’ again.
So while I debated with a delegate as to whether she should bring her log information to her boss, we agreed that people have different expectations of us than they lay on themselves and that they are less empathetic to our perceived needs. We agreed that she should show her boss the log and just leave it with him for him to draw his own conclusions to the data, particularly the three hours of her time he used up over a five day period.
I reflected back to her that he was unlikely to acknowledge great guilt over these findings but that the best she could expect would be that he would say: ‘The chips were a bit hard!’ That indeed would be progress.