The other night when we were at the home of some good friends I heard my youngest son burst into tears. Turns out a “game” he was playing with his brother resulted in a rug burn over the entire area of his stomach. It was not a pretty sight.
If you’ve ever been in charge of the behavior of others – children or adults – you know with certainty the first law of management: People will sometimes do unspeakably dumb things for no apparent reason, and often with no real remorse.
And the codicil to this rule: You may never know exactly what transpired because no two people will relay the same version of the event. You’re left to guess what happened based only on the evidence apparent in the outcome.
People are people – rational yet unpredictable beings – so you may not be able to avoid all mishaps but you can lessen the probability by:
- Providing adequate supervision (clearly lacking in this situation). This does not mean micro-managing! It means providing reasonable oversight and being informed enough to head off potential disaster.
- Keeping lines of communication open. If there are important initiatives underway don’t assume they are progressing as you hope – verify. The sooner you know something is headed off the rails the sooner you can correct it.
- Don’t govern by fear – and don’t “shoot the messenger”! If people are afraid or hesitant to approach you when things go wrong you will always find out when it’s too late to avoid a problem.
In the case of my kids, one usually has a vested interest in ratting out the other so the lines of communication stay open. While it keeps me informed it certainly isn’t the scenario I wish for you and your management team!
How do you stay in touch with the things that are going on in your organization? Send your notes to firstname.lastname@example.org – if I use them I’ll feature your business.