Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Harsh Lesson

Just four months after joining an organization, I was asked, with no prompting  whatsoever from my part, to become one of five directors. There was a catch: I would "leap frog" a colleague who had been with the organization at least ten years, and had technical expertise that I did not. My promotion constituted a de facto demotion for him. I would become his supervisor. 

At the meeting, my spirit raised a flag. “Let me think about it,” I answered. 

The next day, mind still disquieted, I said yes, because, the logic went, “I just got here, I cannot say no.”  My supervisor was visibly relieved at my decision, as if he had been genuinely afraid that the answer would be “no.” But it wasn’t. Confronted with a supervisor’s request, I did the thing he wanted, ignoring my personal sense of good and right.

But now about ten months later, I know not to do that again, allowing myself to send messages to colleagues. After all, if a staff's performance leaves something to be desired, then management has the duty to react, and to do so ethically.

In this case, the behavior was unprofessional, and I was party to it. 

Explaining that decision away could be easy, placing the "blame" on those who made the initial offer.  But this would be the wrong conclusion: they did not have any trepidation about that decision. I did. They did not ignore their conscience. I did. My initial and persistent reluctance condemns me, not them.

Lesson to be remembered.