We just want to do good and have good things done for us, right? When things go sideways, there is an expectation that it was caused by someone or something that should have been avoided. Frustration kicks in, the customer is irate, and that creates pressure to find the reason why it happened. It is not usually a happy time.
Blaming others is so divisive and destructive, but it is exactly what people do in a stressful situation. They start pointing fingers and arguing about who is at fault. If you are at fault or did something that caused this problem, you are in trouble. How did this happen? Who dropped the ball?
Forget The Fault
What if the issues we are having right now are by design so we can improve? The more issues you are exposed to, the better you get at finding ways to deal with them (and, by the way, the less these issues continue to show up.) Lessons will continue to present themselves until you see them, understand why, and deal with them. This is how you prevent issues from repeating and also how you move through them. This is how experience is gained. However, frequently these issues come at a cost. But, do they have to?
When issues are treated as indelible mistakes, rather than learning experiences, it serves only to divide your team and prevent them from moving forward. Eventually, it will destroy your culture because you will dislike your coworkers and trust no one. Punch the clock and go home, do not offer anything that could help because nobody will listen. The dreaded, “nothing ever changes around here.” As a CEO of a growing company, that is one of the most dreaded things to hear. It means I have work to do right now.
Foster The Feedback
How can our people be comfortable providing feedback if they believe we are not listening? Or worse, going to use their feedback against them? If we hire and train someone, we have the responsibility to teach them the job and continue to help them improve. How can we do that if we are going to blame them or make them feel like they are at fault? It is near impossible to cultivate a great workplace if your people think they are at risk of losing their jobs if they make mistakes. With this fear solidly in place, they will never do anything to help the company grow. Ironically, it is just these people who are the ones who know if things are working or not. They know what they need to do their jobs. And we, as leaders, are bound to give each of them our attention and respect.
We need to work really hard to be positive and supportive. Our people deserve the best chance at success. The opportunity to be successful is why they came to us, and that is precisely what we owe them.
And Keep Forging Forward
When I was a younger manager, I believed that if you showed people you love them too much, they would take advantage of it and maybe not work as hard. I know it sounds weird, but it was like they needed to prove it to me and then I would know they were all in. That is not how it works in real life.
As a manager, I’m going to be there first with kindness and support. If our people want to reciprocate, that is awesome, but it will not change my approach. I am going to be present with open arms to help them in any way I can. What I know now is that everyone is willing to do what is right and work as they should, but if you are not willing to open up and be positive and supportive you will never allow them to do their best. Everyone’s best is different and every day is different, but as long as people are willing to learn and grow and improve we can keep moving forward.
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