Someone I wrote off as a jerk surprised me with an email thanking me and apologizing for something said in our conversation.
A different co-worker has been “dragging their feet” on something. When we sat down to discuss the project progress I was surprised to see the the different direction they took on the project and love the direction its going in. The extra time it took to finish the project was clearly well spent.
I love getting those kinds of surprises.
As I was cooking up some Tuna last night (marinade briefly in soy sauce and rice vinegar, sprinkle with salt, pepper and sesame seeds) I was thinking about why I was surprised by these two events. Part of the reason is that I’m impatient. Unfortunately though, I don’t think I’m the only person in corporate America with a patience problem. There are probably people who would have been much more “aggressive” in their efforts to get the project finished.
In the case of the apology email I received, I had already written that person off as a jerk. I made a quick decision and my mind was made up.
As much as I love being happily surprised, I also came to the realization that rushing to judgment and impatience are killing us at work:
- We expect new hires to get their job and the company very quickly. Even for seasoned professionals moving into a role that matches their background it can take upwards of a year before they truly “get” the company.
- We train our employees in a system (any system, pick one: expenses, travel, applicant tracking, this is universal) once and then we get impatient when they come back with more questions. “What is their deal? Why don’t they get it?”
- Especially in HR, we hear about something an employee said or did and make a snap judgment: “What were they thinking?” “Guilty,” or my favorite: “not a good fit.”
Who wants to work at a place like that? Unfortunately, I think we see these kinds of things more often than we would like to admit.
Its easy to see how these things happen. We are all incredibly busy and we have a lot of s*** to do and in our rush to get it done we make snap decisions. The difficulty lies in how to navigate the grey area between using our years of experience to make decisions and stopping the rush to judgment. It is critical we use our experience make decisions but must also pause to think before we make a rash decision.