Sunday, March 3, 2013

On being absent

The art of management, I learned when I was paid to write on the subject, is to delegate a well defined role to the right people. And then to let them get on with it, presuming on their abilities and initiative. Actually this is not as easy as it sounds and not just for control freaks like myself. Especially not in the country, dealing with 'nature' and all unpredictable things under that umbrella.

This by way of introduction to the fact that I am away from La Chaise, not far and not for long but far enough and long enough to feel truly out of it and to be considered truly out of it. Whatever it is. I sent Arnold a text message enquiring as to how many lambs we had on how many ewes. Answer came there none for quite some while. Then a (harassed) 'don't know, lots, mostly twins, have managed to mow all the greens'.

Given the speed and capability of modern communications, one should be able to be away and yet be informed but, somehow, country people do not use the telephone, or email, very much to pass on information. Admittedly, if another ewe has a cross-birth there is nothing much I can do about it from the end of a telephone, except approve the summons to the vet. But this latter action would have been included in the act of delegation. A pat on the head can wait.

To be honest, I would feel comforted to know more of what is happening but am reluctant to be a hovering presence over those (Audrey, Alexandre,Arnold – how many farms have a triple A rating?) who are dealing with the successes and the problems on a daily basis.

The one exception is that I would like to know what is in the post. For some reason, corporate or other administrative offices cannot conceive that the intended recipients of their doubtless very important communications might be absent. You might call it lรจse bureaucratie. It holds up 'the system' than which there is no greater crime.

We have a problem with a company which had better remain nameless for the time being. We had to return a piece of electronic equipment to it, duly accompanied by a bordereau. This latter is a slip of paper that enables a package to be received without any human being troubled with taking responsibility for the same by reading the description of the contents. It can be scanned. Computer mediated communications has rendered all of us illiterate as well as incompetent.

Unfortunately the bordereau did not arrive before we had to leave, so package was sent without same and – apparently, upon reaching its destination, according to computer records – has been returned to us. Only we are not there to receive it. Doubtless it will have been returned recorded delivery which only waits for a few days before being returned to sender....This could run and run, in circles. The thing is: the company concerned claims it will charge us for non return of equipment within a given time.....I see a row brewing.

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