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When things go wrong often the first reaction is to point the finger and say “Well if people didn’t go off sick I would have a full complement of staff, and deliveries would go out on time”. Or “ If that nurse wasn’t so short with patients, we wouldn’t get those complaints”.
I know I’ve done it myself countless times and the result was the same, nothing changed. I recently recalled an interview with a player for the all-conquering Liverpool football team in the ’70s and ’80s. He said, “After every game, win, lose, or draw we would analyse our own individual play and work out what we could have done better”.
They didn’t point the finger after a loss to point out another players failings, nor did they heap praise on someone who had played well after they won, they just looked at their own game and sought to improve. That way they all looked to improve and as a team, they all took responsibility for their own game.
This applies equally to other areas of work. As a manager, there is always something you could have handled better. For example, could you have managed sickness more effectively or could you have picked up the nurse’s comments before they led to a complaint? Could you have coached team answering the phone to make every caller feel important?
If this all sounds a bit like self-flagellation, I would paraphrase a book that I have turned to on many occasions for wisdom “ No one among has achieved perfect adherence to our principles, we claim progress rather than perfection”. In short, no-one is perfect but we can all keep learning.
I have just read an interesting book called “Extreme Ownership” written by a couple of US Navy Seals. Whilst I have to admit I didn’t find the testosterone-fuelled nature of the writing to my taste, the messages in it made a lot of sense.
It is the job of leaders/managers to own an issue, so if a member of staff did something wrong, could you have done something different? In fact, if someone higher up the organisational hierarchy seems to be blocking you, could you “manage upwards” more effectively?
More on managing upwards in another Blog.