The rocket science of approvals

There are quite a few rocket sciences all of us need to learn in the corporate environment. And one of the most critical of all of them would be how to get mail approvals done from your boss within the stipulated timeline.

All of us know how trick it is to get things done in a professionally corporate environment. We may send emails to our boss, that requires immediate attention, but we have to wait for days, sometimes even weeks to get these through.

I have worked in three different companies in totally different fields till now, and all three were totally different ball games altogether. One was banking; next was insurance and the latest one – technology.

Banking was easy really. Being at the entry level, my role was just to send some that requires minimum efforts to approve. The bigger ones were usually sent out by my senior colleagues, although watching them made me feel like it was pushing a heavy rolling stone up hill. Only when I was “senior” enough to send those mails did I actually notice how simple it was – like asking permission to process transactions that went over limit and all, it was something that affected business – so no big deal, and approval mails were replied in a jiffy once it hit the inbox.

My next stop was insurance. And I was here long enough to graduate from sending simple  mails that require approval for reprint of welcome kits to one’s that have major financial implications of lakhs of rupees. It was a tough, competitive industry, so it was always an all out blitzkrieg to please the customer. Each mail send needed to have lots and lots of stories to get things done. Even if the story was as simple as 90 minutes multiplex movie, we needed to make it look like a three hour Sanjay Leela Banasali melodrama, full of emotions, action and reactions. Only then, based on our creativity, storytelling ability and resourcefulness, that things were agreed on.

Those days were tough, but it really worked well on our narration skills. Every day, every new approval required us to rehash stories like our movie script writers really do.

Remember that dialogue Mohanlal’s character Sagar Kottapuram in Ayaal Kadhaezhutukayaanu said? – “Ente novelukalim katha eppozhum onna, katha pashchaatalavum kathaapaatrangalude perum maatram maarum” (In my novels the story is always same, only the background and character’s name change). That was the case here too.

End of the day, efforts of the story writing was always positive and whatever approvals were required, we always got it, no matter how intricate and knotty the situation in concern was. For every problem, there was solutions vide approval – and this was really the bonus for our dexterity to handle hard-hitting situations and clientele. Insurance is really the toughest customer service industry to be in.

New place, new experience. In ITES, as usual, job role demands approvals from Boss, for one thing or the other. Being is Operations is a sturdy job, guys.

Things were totally different here. Nothing straightforward, no storytelling, it required just plain sense here. Somewhere in the middle path from the previous two places I was in. I used to send mails during regular office hours, but soon came to understand that approvals were tough to come by. Sometimes it took days, sometimes weeks, sometimes it never came. Maybe after a mail, I would have to call trough, after a reminder it came.

It was tough. Critical items were usually left pending. So I had to analyze.

Going through history, I noted that most of the successful ones that were approved hit my inbox early in the morning. Sometimes as early as five o clock. That was quite a time to send mails – so it seems.

I realized, above me, bosses were always busy. No time for silly mail checking during office time, best time to set the junk aside was at home, late at night, in peace.

So I decided – “Cheraye tinnunna nattil ethiyaal nadukashnam tinnuka” (Malayalam proverb – when you go to a country that eats snakes, eat the middle part) translated in simple English, “When in Rome, be a Roman”

I reworked the time schedule I spend on mails.

We guys are lucky that we get to access office mails from home too! I starting sending out those approvals required peacefully at home, sometimes as late as ten or eleven at night. Hit the send button and go to sleep.

Bosses would see my mail first thing when they open mailbox in the morning. And by the time I reach office in the morning, so sometimes by the time I wake up, the reply would have come to my Inbox – a perfect finish to the sequence of events.

The way we get to post small victories against the impediments that time and situations give us – these small conquests of moments and circumstances sometimes makes us feel on top of the world. Happy to have mastered this rocket science too.

 

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