You know how people tend to people want to talk to the manager when an employee can’t solve their problem? We trust that those higher up on an organization’s ladder will know more or have better insight to help us than those closest to the problem at hand.
But this assumption can be wrong as often as it’s right.
Getting Real Results
On a recent trip to a client, our auditors ran into a problem: the client hadn’t provided all the documents we had requested several weeks ago. Though this wasn’t a deal-breaker, it did slow things down, so they went to ask our point person — someone in middle management — for the remaining information.
The manager gave them a harrowing task to find the missing documents. The information we were looking for was buried in files, distributed among different personnel at the office, or stored electronically. After three days of chasing down documents between the point person’s busy schedule, one of our team mentioned the hassle to an accountant at the office. She revealed that all the things we had been looking for were stored on an electronic server she could access anytime.
Our team spent three days pulling, scanning, and re-filing paper documents, only to discover that the people who work with the things we needed day in and day out had a system by which to get us information quickly and easily. They were closest to the information; they had solved problems like this before. Now we know going forward who our real point person should be.
We learned in this process not to undervalue those who work without always seeing the big picture. In fact, by knowing about the broader processes of the organization, managers and owners often lose track of the most effective way to handle the specific tasks their staff performs every day.
This story reinforces the truth that the value of a company isn’t driven by those in its highest positions, but those in its lowest.