Taking Charge

The kids were playing nicely, when suddenly the youngest started to howl. Apparently, the elder brother had hit him.

“Hey, what happened?” I queried.

“Dad, he made me hit him.” my second eldest was apparently trying to justify his action.

He made me hit him? Isn’t that an incredible story? I can give an allowance since it came from a nine year old kid ( though I must slowly reorient him that taking responsibility for your own actions as well as its consequence is important) , because even in the workplace, and among adults, we hear this story. He made me fail… – we hear this said or implied often.
The knack is that we think and act like we succeed because of our own efforts, but we fail because of circumstances and people beyond our control. Maybe we can have a better success rate if we believe we are responsible for our own success … and failure.

In the last few weeks, I have been sitting down with my department heads to try to quantify objectives and set goals. I have also tried to nail hard as to why some initiatives were not progressing. As a result, I have been getting a lot of emails sent by one department to another ( cc’d to me) trying to follow up. The apparent reason for this is to let me know that they are not able to move their own objectives because of certain bottlenecks created by other people.

Apparently, for many people, it is OK not to succeed as long as there is a good reason for failing.

The first thing in managing when your team acts like that is to stop the fingerpointing, and start to change culture and attitudes towards being responsible in getting things done.
For me, that means also setting clear guidelines, and I have set it at thus — if you set your goal at 100%, and for some reason you hit only 85% to 90% of that goal, then it is OK to justify that certain people or circumstance is preventing you from hitting 100% or more.

But if you are only hitting 30 or 50% of your goal, then the problem has to be you.

In short, I believe that other people and circumstance may make you less successful ( can also favor you sometime!) in the short term, but they cannot make you consistently fail in the long term.

What do you think?

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