More Laughter, More Mistakes – Week #7, 7/22/20
There’s this Ani DiFranco song where she sings, “When I look down, I miss all the good stuff. When I look up, I just trip over things.”
I have always loved this line. I don’t hear it in a pessimistic, the universe is against me sort of way. Rather, I hear in it the reality of life being a series of trade offs. There are positives and negatives to every relationship, job, or situation. Throughout our lives, we are trying to find things that fit us best – the unique set of trade-offs that work for us as individuals.
As a manager, I strive to create an organized, well-run, educational atmosphere where our crew knows what to do and feels comfortable to ask when they don’t. I am fairly laid back, and generally trust our crew to do their best without my micro-managing them. There are certain lacks of efficiency that occur with this management strategy, but I want my crew to enjoy coming to work. So sometimes I opt to keep my mouth shut in order to create the environment I want for my crew.
Case in point: Wednesday mornings. The folks that volunteer for our pack line shift are lively and talkative. Over time, many of them have become friends, and they look forward to seeing each other each week. As I run around loading the truck and keeping the pack line stocked, I hear so much conversation and laughter.
I love this laughter. Some days the fields literally echo with the sound of laughter coming from the shed on Wednesdays.
However, similar to Ani’s song, there is a trade off. The more engaging the conversation, the more giggles, the more mistakes there are.
When the pack mornings seem particularly fun, I brace myself. I know there will be mistakes. I know my email inbox will fill with member complaints reporting they did not receive things they ordered.
If I were to draw you a graph where I track enjoyment and happiness of my workers (perhaps measured by decibels of laughter) against mistakes made in packing customized orders, you would see a direct, positive correlation.
More laughter = more mistakes.
I have a choice. I can ask them to stop talking and to focus on their orders. I could make each person sign the order sheets they pack so that they are accountable for their mistakes. OR I can decide that I am okay with, on average, 8 orders out of 535 having mistakes.
Every week, I choose to let the laughter go on. I gamble that whichever member is affected – they will understand we are human and make mistakes. I choose to sacrifice my time to fix the problem and make it right for the members, rather than have a strict, unpleasant environment for my workers.
Maybe as a member you read this and disagree – especially if you’ve been the victim of a mistake. Perhaps you’d rather me make sure the mistakes don’t happen. I can definitely understand that viewpoint! Here’s hoping you can understand mine.
So if you find yourself as part of the 1-2% on any given week that finds an error in their customizable veggie share, I hope you can do two things:
1) Let us know the mistake so that we can credit your account for it. I am happy to do so.
2) Find joy in knowing the mistake in your order was most likely born of laughter. It was not the farm shorting you without telling you. It was simply that the hands packing your share belonged to someone who may have been laughing at the moment they were packing your share. Maybe knowing that will take the sting of your missing head lettuce or scallions out of the equation.
Cheers and enjoy your veggies!