Reading an article from a web-site on management, Ram was reflecting upon his success so far. After graduating from a self-financing engineering college in Salem, he secured a job in Know-all Systems Ltd. as Software Engineer. He had progressed smoothly and worked his way to become a Project Manager within 5 years. ”No mean achievement!” his boss had commented once. Managing a smoothly going project, he was thinking that management is his natural skill.
But, one morning, what awaited him there was really shaking. Venkat, his immediate superior was telling him that some of his team members had requested for a change in project! The news by itself was not a major concern for Ram; but what worried him, was the reason for the shift requested. Some of his team members thought that he didn’t empathize with them. This was in contrast with what Ram felt. He felt that he had always lent a patient ear to all those who approached him with any difficulties even if they were “personal” in nature. And, he had always done his level best to offer a solution. Nevertheless, he took the feedback positively and upon introspection he did feel that not many team members approached him with problems, and he had thought that they never had any problems. That was one of the reasons why he felt that his team members were really happy with him! He blurted, “ But Venkat, they never approach me with their problems. I am not a mind reader to know that they had a problem interacting with me”. Venkat, was cool as a cucumber. He peered at Ram and asked, ”Ram, its right they never approached you. But have you ever approached them to find out what their side of the story is?”
This shook Ram totally out of his comfort. He, a PM, should approach a Team Member and ask him about his difficulties? Wasn’t it supposed to work the other way? Finding it difficult to accept the feedback at its face value, he wondered what really he should do in future.