So I work at a medical device company, where the overall goal is to manufacture equipment and tools (so to speak) that hospitals can use to diagnose/treat their patients.
The company I'm at is a global one, and has a lot of different products that come through the pipelines. Needless to say, supporting the manufacturing of these devices can be a pretty chaotic job. It's like Murphy's Law -- anything that can go wrong will go wrong. So at such a medical device company, you can expect the unexpected. And there are plenty of unwelcomed developments.
Last year, there was a problem for one of the products that my team was responsible for out on the manufacturing line. In such cases, it is required to escalate the problem, create a Powerpoint slide deck, and share it with upper management. You need to have as much information available and present it to TPTB.
When my group was asked directly "Who's going to present?", naturally no one volunteered and own the task. After a few seconds of hesitation, I raised my hand.
So I did what I could -- tried to gather all the information possible, get input from the other SMEs (subject matter experts), put everything into a Powerpoint presentation, etc. And when I did present the Powerpoint to TPTB.... it didn't turn out so well.
After the presentation, my former boss called me into his office. This was his feedback:
1) He started it off with, "First of all, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for stepping up and doing the job." I could tell that my old boss meant it. But then the other shoe was dropped...
2) My presentation wasn't a good one. He said the Production Manager was seething with the lack of complete info. My old boss said that I shouldn't have presented, that there was a Manufacturing Engineer II and a Principal Manufacturing Engineer.... THEY should've presented, he said. As I was (and still am) a Quality Engineer I, he said they are getting paid a lot more $$ than I am, and that it was their job to own the whole task in the first place.
My old boss... I took to heart what he said. Even though he's very direct and blunt, he'll still support you if you deserve it. And I'm glad that he supported me, and has done so in the past as well.
He also said that my current boss (at that time) should've objected to me owning the task and presenting it to TPTB since it was supposedly not my responsibility. But he didn't step in at any point.
So while I'm glad I stepped up to the challenge, I felt like I failed.
Most importantly, I felt like I let my team down.
I spoke with Bob W. (whom I consider a mentor) about this afterward. He said that my old boss was right, that I DID NOT fail and did the right thing, and that I should learn from the experience by getting feedback from other managers. Which I did (ironically, all of these people are no longer with the company today).
So it was a very tough pill for me to swallow. But I guess so is every lesson learned well.
It reminds me of a phrase that my teammate at work and good friend likes to use: "Embrace failure." (Alberto)