“Why is this pension claim back on my desk?” I asked my secretary.
She replied, “I found an error in one of the calculations and traced it back to a typo transferred from one of the bank statements, and I corrected it, and I want you to check it over before I send it out.”
“That is the third such error you found this quarter. What are you, some kind of a numbers whiz?”
“I like numbers, and got straight A’s in business math and accounting.”
“Why don’t you do the math portions of these claims, and I’ll handle the medical disability analysis and write ups? Together, we’ll get more done, with fewer errors, as paperwork won’t bottleneck, pressuring me to rush claims in before the end of the month. The VA will receive error free paperwork, making their processing more efficient, so clients will receive quicker decisions and be more satisfied too.”
“If I do that and make a mistake, you’ll throw me under the bus. Promise me you won’t have clients and their families coming in here to blame me for things that are not my job!”
As my secretary stepped into a new role, production nearly quintupled. I took full responsibility to resolve any errors we made. This encouraged others to do more also, and our work environment flourished.
About two years later an organizational productivity assessment, revealed how we were achieving our unparalleled performance, and a new job title was developed based upon my secretary’s accomplishments. I negotiated as a rep for my professional union with her support staff union and our HR administration to facilitate the process, but it was worth it.
Great things happen when we empower others to reach their potential to solve organizational problems.