There is a fundamental truth about all learning. We all make mistakes. The key question that I want to ask today is, “Should we talk about mistakes in public?” There are two schools of thought.
Approach 1.Praise in public and punish in private.
Approach 2.Talk about your mistake in public to help everyone in a kind and caring manner to help understand the issues and learn from it while treating everyone with at most respect.
The ‘VA Way’ dictates that we talk about it in public to learn from it. It DOES NOT mean that we should be disrespectful of the person that has made the mistake. That is NOT THE VA WAY. We hAVE to respect (to everyone in front and behind their backs).
Now, why did we choose this option in the ‘VA Way’? The answer is simple. At VA we think life as a sport. If this is true, what would happen if people told that they will not display the scores of Tiger Woods, Rahul Dravid because they failed in a game? On the contrary people like Tiger Woods and Rahul Dravid study their mistakes with their coaches, teammates to make sure that they DON’T make that mistake again. It is there for the entire world to see. It does NOT mean that we respect Rahul less or love Tiger less because he failed in a match.
Another example that is more personal, I got 67.3% in my 10th standard. I was shattered! I was expecting at least 85% (People in the US, 89% that year got the first rank for the state). The truth was that I had studied only for one month before the exam and deserved nothing more. Soon after the board results were announced, my friend and I were riding back home on our bicycles with some other friends from tennis practice when my friend asked me my scores in the exams. I told him I did not want to talk about it.
His response was quick, “Where was all this pride when you did not study for the exam?” in his usual truthful, hurtful, and caring way. This friend was none other than your CEO Mr. Sudhir Achar!
I could have thought that this is the biggest jerk and hate him. But I had the opportunity to have read the teaching of Socrates (The famous Greek Philosopher) just then, where he said ‘Your friends are your biggest enemies because they don’t tell you about your weakness’. Here was a true friend that was trying to help me, teach me that that I have to become a better human being by simply stating the obvious. Why not take his advice instead of suffering from self-pity? The reason that I did not get good grades is because I did not study well.
I promised myself that I will never let this happen again and worked really hard. Things did not change overnight but slowly but surely I started to inch forward to the point where (while I was never happy with my grades ever) I could at least live with them. I owe this to Mr. Achar! Thank you for pointing out my mistakes in public!
In a recent talk with some of you I made it a point to let everyone know that all mistakes in VA in the end are my mistakes. I also categorically let everyone know that every time there is a mistake in what we do in operations, delivery, in a closing a sale, I take it as my responsibility that I have let you down somewhere. Only after saying this I pointed out some of the usual mistakes we are doing as a team and how to conduct a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) the ‘5 why’ approach to make sure that you DON’T make the mistake again (Remember, literally every error happens because of an ATTITUDE issue). Yet some of you felt that I was picking on your buddy tells me that I have failed again in convincing that we are a family, a team, and it is my job to point out mistakes to make sure that our performance improves and not to hurt anyone. Your comments have told me that I have failed again, in convincing you to change your attitude to work and life.
But remember, I have failed in the past, and every time I have been told I have failed, I have worked harder (Sometimes harder than anybody else in the world) and have come back stronger. Because that is who we are as VA. That is what VA stands for. We are fighters and will prevail as a company and as a family. We will one day convince each one of you that we are like your trainer / true friends and not just managers. We will do this even if we have to change your ATTITUDE one person at a time. We will make sure that all reach your true potential of being the best in the world!
I promise we will talk about our mistakes one day and nobody will feel bad that someone was treated badly but instead feel bad that we let a customer down or our hive (Your team) down. I promise that day is not too far away.
We are VA, and we will prevail.
About Vantage Agora:
Vantage Agora (VA) is a global provider of back-office solutions, custom operational dashboards, IT services and consulting services for companies in the insurance, finance, and healthcare sectors. As a SAS70 Type II audited company, Vantage Agora utilizes advanced data processing and quality control systems on a secured network to ensure efficient, comprehensive management of back-office functions such as payroll, accounting, financial and administrative tasks. Founded in 2004, Vantage Agora has offices in Cleveland and Dallas. For more information on our services and products visit: www.vantageagora.com
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