You Had to Be There

I was watching Real Housewives with Andrea and one of the wives was upset with her clothing maker.  The housewife was trying to become a clothing designer but she had someone else make the clothing. She was frustrated with the clothing maker because they did not have the quality and standards she expected.

Another day I was watching Undercover Boss with Andrea and it was the one where the high level manager at Subway went undercover in one of the Subway stores (see the video above).  He learned a lot about the business and how things actually work on the floor level.

These stories have one thing in common; the people in control learned there was value in seeing the business from the trenches.  The housewife learned that by completely delegating the manufacture of her clothing line her expectations were not met.  The manager learned how ideas from up on high may not work exactly as planned.

What you can learn from these two: whatever project you are working on you need to spend some time down in the trenches.  I know it takes time away from your to-do list but it will make your project run much smoother.  This is especially true when you have never done the work you are expecting of others (or you have not done it in a while).

By going to the shop floor are you will see how things will actually work.  You cannot expect someone to see your vision exactly the same way you do.  Plus, people have different perspective from you and they may implement the project different from your vision.  Heck, they may show you a better way to accomplish what your goal.  The people that do the work every day are the experts in the job.

Finally, the people on the floor will relate to you more and what you are doing.  You will win even more brownie points if you spend some time doing the work.  When I did this everyone was willing to help me complete each project I presented.  Most likely you will not get good at the work but you will build relationships with the everyone.  If you let the folks that actually do the work add their input to the project they will be more willing to help keep it alive so you do not need to baby it all the time.

To sum it up: don’t make decisions from an ivory tower and expect them to work exactly the way you want them to.

2 Replies on “You Had to Be There

  1. My favorite line in this blog post: “The people that do the work every day are the experts in the job.” Couldn’t agree more. The best thing to do is share your vision but at the same time seek input from those performing the role. In many cases, a combination of both perspectives tends to be the best bet.

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