I had an interesting conundrum last week at work. Something which left me with this dilemma. It was the kind of question for me which impacts you as a person, questions your beliefs and core principles. I did took a decision and went ahead by it, I still probably would take the same decision in the similar circumstances but I am still not able to shake that feeling if I did right.
We had a small professional competition in office where I participated. The competition required us to form a team, we sent in the team nomination with some members and some people who were interested were assigned to our team. At the end I had a fourteen member team which I was supposed to lead in the competition. The competition was a long one with 6 weeks of timeline, requiring the teams to submit professional documents at the end of every week and finally ending with a presentation at the end of the contest. All of this was to be done over and above the regular working hours and deliverables we all had.
We started at a positive note with enthusiasm and everyone interested. We divided work and went around with our deliverables at the end of the first week, the enthusiasm continued till the second week. At the end of the third week the quality of the work started coming down, some of the team members stopped showing for the meeting without intimation, while others expressed inability to contribute further citing the workload. We finally moved to fourth week and there was further cutting of corners and general lack of interest by the people. The deliverable at the end of the fourth week end up in a situation where some of the people had just copy pasted stuff without even reading. By the time we reached five weeks we had reduced the number of contributors to eight from the initial fourteen. The eight folks kept at it picking up load on weekends and pulling late nighters to ensure the quality and the timeliness of our deliverables.
Our final presentation was good and we were happy with our effort. That is when the dilemma started. The organization leadership was a part of the panel judging our efforts, based on the number of people they saw in the final presentation they had a question on folks who had actually contributed. Since, I was the leader of the team I was asked this question. Apparently we were a part of the top 3 winners and they wanted to acknowledge and reward only the people who had contributions across all the stages but the final decision was with me. My first reaction was that as the leader of the team I should not discriminate between the members. It was a team effort and the entire team stands to win or lose, it would be opportunistic to drop people when we were winners. On the other hand, the contrary thought process was that this was a corporate competition with an idea and spirit to identify performers, reward people who can deliver. Why should the rest of the people who contributed far more significantly should carry the people who didn’t keep this work at the priority. At the end of the day entire team gets the credit for delivering, so people who didn’t contribute significantly throughout shouldn’t get the benefit of the victory either. When one deprioritsed the work, he/she let the rewards also to be forfeited along with the decision.
In the end I gave the eight member team pruning the list to people who contributed throughout the six weeks. I am still torn between if I made the right decision. Was it correct on my part to let go of the people who didn’t contribute when we won. Had I failed as leader when I chose to disown the people from my team? If I had I taken the other side would I have been unfair to people who spent working on weekends and late nights to ensure the work gets completed on time with winnable quality while their peers focussed on more important and personal things otherwise. Do let me know what you think?