Nov 29 2012

Don’t Make Me…

In Jim Collin’s Good to Great we all learned about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. Every leader is always working on determining if the right people are on the bus, if we have all the right skill sets in the organization. Next we work on getting everyone in the right seats on the bus, which is making sure each person is using their skill sets for the highest and best use for the organization and that they are doing work they enjoy. One of my favorite leadership mantras is to encourage everyone to give their co-workers the benefit of the doubt in all areas. Someone might be having a bad day or not be trained properly, when they made a mistake. They were just trying to help out, when they did something that was someone else’s responsibility. We all have a tendency to think the worst. Instead of the benefit of the doubt, we tend to think that someone made a mistake on purpose or they are trying to steal our job when they help out.

Interestingly, there seem to be times when these issues overwhelm the organization and leadership is most desperately needed. First, and most expectedly, when things are really slow. People don’t have enough work, they’re a little scared for the future, and they need reassurance that this lull is temporary. Teamwork and the company values that brought the company this far – rather than the silos and back-biting- are what’s going to bring everyone to the next level.

Surprisingly, the second common time when this happens is when things are going really well. The company is growing, which usually means resources are scarce. People are really busy- often short staffed, cash is tight, everyone is looking toward the future – but sometimes forgetting about today. They forget that they might step on someone’s toes. They forget that a mistake in a detail today could affect the bigger picture.

This reminds me of summer vacation and driving in the car to get to the beach. We were so excited and looking toward the future – the fun week ahead – we would get scrappy. Of course, that’s when mom or dad would say, “Don’t make me pull this car over.” This reminded us that stopping not only meant Trouble (with a capital T) but also delayed arrival at the destination! We’d straighten right up – we knew that paradise lie ahead.

I think that sometimes as leaders, when we’ve got our team in the right seats on the bus, and it’s speeding along in the right direction, but we start getting sidetracked by small skirmishes, we have to remind everyone that paradise lies ahead and “Don’t make me pull this bus over!”

Re-posted with permission from Heather Chandler, G2 President, Sealstrip Corp, and member of DVFBC’s Member Advisory Council. Find out more about Sealstrip Corporation.

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