The Pain of Do-Overs

My mom did not go to college but she is one of the smartest people I know.  She has a no non-sense attitude and navigates the world in a discerning manner.  One of her sayings is, “If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.”  I wish more people followed that advice.

It seems everyone is in a hurry today.  In the workplace, some people rush to show how fast they are.  Most miss the point.  It doesn’t matter if you’re fast if the work is not don’t right.  I once assigned an engineer to revise several drawings based on my markups.  He turned it around quickly but I found mistakes.  I created a new set of markups and found more mistakes again.  I had to put my coaching hat on and advised him to slow down.  In similar situations, I don’t even provide another set of markups.  I stop proofreading after I identify one mistake.  I then hand the work back to the individual and have them find and correct the mistakes before submitting drawings for approval.  It’s a matter of checking your own work to avoid this problem in most cases.  I personally read emails a few times before I hit the send button.  Do-overs slow projects down.

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The latest example I experience involves emails.  I do my best to be concise and refrain from long emails.  Even so, I know people don’t read the entire message based on their responses.  I may ask two questions but only get a response for one of them.  This requires a follow-up email to say, “What about my other question?”  If do-overs happen repeatedly on your project teams, I recommend you have one-and-one conversations to understand the root cause.  Regarding emails, some people are truly overwhelmed and behind several emails so they rush and give inadequate responses.  Further action may be needed to help solve the root cause if due to laziness or other intolerable reasons.

Some level of rework should be expected from new employees fresh out of college or from those learning a new skill or job position.  Failure is better for personal growth than success, but do-overs are costly.  Time is valuable and our focus and energy should move projects forward, not backward.

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