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Trust but Verify at the Office

The biggest challenge of managing others is learning how to relinquish control. Most professionals will agree that in order to maximize your own productivity and achieve increased levels of responsibility, you need to leverage the competencies of your team. This will give you the freedom to execute higher-value work — work that is critical to a promotion and future success. I sat down with a client the other day; his recent experience with his team reminded me of the importance of trusting others to do important tasks and verifying that said tasks are done correctly.


Trust by Verify (Photo: iStockphoto)


Here is how his story went: My client runs a startup in the city and has a team of engineers responsible for building out his website. My client is the entrepreneurial engine of the company — he creates the product ideas, he implements them and he sells. Most days, he simply does not have the time to deal with the technical aspects and therefore, leaves many of the responsibilities to his engineers.

Cutting to the chase, he trusted his team to test the entirety of his sales processing system to ensure that if a customer placed and order, the transaction would in fact go through, and he and his employees would get paid. Simple enough, right? Wrong.

After spending two full weeks pitching and finally closing the sale, the customer placed the order on my client’s system only for him to find out that the “live” button in their payment platform was off. His team did not do what he asked. Stunned, my client had to go back to his customer, tail between his legs, and request a do-over. He didn’t verify, and as a result a sizeable sale was put at risk.

Indeed, the best practice of “trust but verify” protects you and minimizes unnecessary career risk. If you have processes that you are assuming work but never viewed yourself directly, save yourself the pain of finding out at the exactly wrong time by doing your diligence. You’ll be thankful you did.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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