In running a team, managers learn to identify where each employee is on the big picture/granular continuum.
Many people are toward one end of the spectrum or the other with a predictable deficit that tarnishes their strength.
I’m the guy who has the really big picture, able to see how a lot of different pieces are fitting together in the global flow of things. I also am legendary for overlooking the small stuff and being less than accurate on some details – like spelling, dates and distances.
Megan is on the other extreme. Her capacity to track the interrelationship of each detail of a project makes her the ideal person for website development, bookkeeping, and filling out interminable government-requested forms. She has been known, however, to lose track of the global picture and how a given decision might impact things that have not yet happened in another country.
Pretty normal in management, and we have pulled off a lot of good work by bringing our disparate excellences to the table.
Then there is Serina who is a horse of a different color altogether.
She began competitive skiing younger than some people learned to tie their shoes. Skiing is a sport of details, with winners and losers being separated by fractions of a second at times. Thus, her coaches drilled her from an early age to be mindful of a very large number of details about body positioning while hurtling herself down a mountainside.
However, the aforementioned mountainside also DEMANDS a big picture approach. Each run is unique. Although the shape of the piste may not have changed, the number of people who have skied and the temperature of the day affect the surface and require a conscious strategy to overcome the liabilities and leverage the assets.
Thus, Serina became one of those unusual people who does both the big picture and the granular with excellence.
After her skiing years were over, her recreational activities and her jobs contributed to cementing both skills in her persona.
When she came to us as an employee, this grasp of the usually disparate skills was a tremendous bright spot.
Today she and Sandy collaborate on a lot of projects which require multiple steps, tight timing, and moving words, sounds and graphics back and forth across the ocean repeatedly, via various platforms.
I have learned that once I toss something their way, I can forget about it. It is as good as done. I do not invest a nano-second of management time supervising them, checking up on them, or worrying about whether they will drop the ball on some time sensitive project.
Serina does her share of the granular with precision while also relentlessly tracking each project through the maze until completion and release.
At least that was the situation up to Serina’s move to Innsbruck.
I wasn’t sure she could maintain sheer perfection in the face of that degree of turbulence.
She would be dismantling her entire office over a ten day period.
There was a lot of logistical drama and physical effort required.
AND she was hugely emotionally engaged in getting to Innsbruck. You have no idea how much bandwidth was consumed by that one idea.
For months in advance!
Thus, I decided to hedge my bets.
I went privately to Sandy and to Megan letting them know that even though Serina had a stunning track record of delivering in the past, in this window they needed to keep an eye on things, and if something appeared to fall between the cracks, they should check up on her.
Emotional involvement as large as Serina’s can be distracting and a detriment to perfection.
It was a total waste of managerial effort on my part.
She never missed a beat. She never dropped a ball. Nothing was forgotten, overlooked, delayed, mishandled or misunderstood.
She delivered three weeks of perfection, exactly like the three weeks before the move and the three weeks before that and the ones before that!
So kudos to you, Serina! You far out performed my expectations. Your training during all those difficult years appears to be hard wired into the core of your being. Even vast emotional involvement with Innsbruck, the Promenade, the inline skates, painting your new apartment, and everything else was not enough to diminish your excellence as our distributor in Austria.
We are honored to have you on our team.
Copyright September 2016 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub, after returning from my family reunion
P.S. I talked to her today and she was fussing about all the details she still has to resolve regarding her move and how stressful it is trying to keep track of all the different demands on her right now.
I did not invest a single drop of sympathy into the situation, nor a fraction of a thought about any risk to my projects.
She will nail it.