I was in a meeting the other day with 10 other people, all mostly various department leaders of the business, including my boss.
Most of the people were from the Commercial function, ie sales people, and we were finalising a big deal, which had taken nearly 3 years to negotiate. The customer had finally said yes and signing of the contract was imminent!
The deal was a fairly complicated and bespoke one, with lots of non-standard processes. We ran through all these processes one last time to ensure that all around the table were happy.
Everyone nodded and affirmed their approval and the meeting was about conclude on a high when a lone little voice piped up “Just one minute, can I just check something?”
That little voice was mine – 10 pairs of eyes swivelled in my direction. Smiles on Commercial faces froze.
Anyway, I basically asked whether the customer was aware that there was a specific document (to do with Compliance, so not even my area!) that they had to sign, in addition to the contract. I had noticed that no one had mentioned it.
Nobody present knew the answer and immediately, the Commercial leader dismissively said that there was ‘no way’ that they could go back to the customer now with new paperwork and risk scuppering the deal.
I countered that this wasn’t really something that we could just ignore now that someone (ie me) had raised the question about the document.
At that moment, I was certainly not the most popular person in the room, and I may have been mentally crossed off some people’s Christmas card lists!
The meeting ended mutedly, with an action to find the answer to my question.
Anyway, the good news was that a subsequent check with the customer confirmed that they had actually been expecting to sign such a document – panic over, Commercial were smiling again, in particular the deal owner, who stood to earn a big fat commission!
Doing Things Properly
I could have just kept my mouth shut in that meeting and joined in on the congratulations on the new deal. I could have avoided a whole afternoon of grief from agitated Commercial people, thinking that I had spoiled their deal and messed up their sales targets. I could have just shrugged off responsibility (after all, I don’t work in Compliance), taken the “nobody will realise or find out” attitude.
My boss afterwards gave me a pat on the back for daring to be the one person in the room to say ‘No’ when everyone was saying ‘Yes’, but the fact was, I wasn’t being daring, I was just doing my job.
I certainly don’t love my job but I do try to do it properly – otherwise, why bother doing it at all? A job well done gives me a sense of achievement and pride – this motivates me to get up in the mornings and go to the office, probably more so than money does.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m no perfect employee. I was once labelled a ‘trouble-maker’ by one of my bosses! I don’t always tow the ‘corporate line’, I question, dislike corporate politics and I’m fairly certain that my career progression has been
non-existent slow because I just can’t bring myself to be a ‘brown noser’ – if I’m going to praise someone, it’s because they deserve it, not because I want to go up the career ladder! My bad maybe, but I have no regrets and my own integrity remains intact in this respect.
So I don’t mind putting in the hours, the sometimes crappy commute, don’t mind the stress (much) and put up with the grief that I get occasionally. A job well done may occasionally lead to a performance-related pay rise, and if I’m fortunate, also a bonus but neither are guaranteed, so again, not my real motivation to work.
I won’t always feel this way about doing my job – there will come a time (hopefully not too soon!) when I will be absolutely fed up and no longer care about doing a good job, which could be due to a change in my role that I can’t/won’t accept, a change in personnel or processes, my friends leaving, or just simply a change in me as I get older. Perhaps I just won’t have the energy or inclination to put in that sort of effort any more into working. Or, I could be made redundant, and there’s always that risk.
At that point in my life, I hope that I will have enough money in my investments and savings pot to be able to walk away, into early retirement.
Some people name this pot their ‘F.U. or F*** You Money
‘. I don’t have a name for mine yet but I have something in mind for the new year – one that doesn’t need asterisks!
[image from GMB-Rotherham]