Two men were out on the ocean in a boat.
One of them began drilling in the bottom of the boat, and the other, aghast said “What are you doing? Stop drilling! You’ll sink us you fool!”
And the first man replied: “It’s all right. I’m only drilling on my side.”
Many times we see this very thing happen in our organizations- at work, where we volunteer, at church, even in our own homes. One line of business is doing brilliantly, and another is struggling- taking on water.
I’ve seen military units that have superb staff sections, all squared away and properly functioning, sans one. And it’s always that one “Achilles’ heel” that ends up making life difficult for the rest of the organization (not to mentioned that Commander).
So why does it seem like people are willing to let their peers keep repeating the same costly mistakes? Why aren’t they taking action?
Most companies forget to tell their employees that they are empowered to change things that don’t work. The outcome is a group of people watching idly by while the ship sinks slowly into the ocean.
Monday Morning Perspective
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.” –Joe Paterno
Many people today have adopted an individualistic mentality that allows them to watch others struggle and fail and feel no pressure to assist them in any way. The belief that other people’s problems are “none of my business” will often lead to far worse organizational outcomes than the mistakes being made on the front line.
A front line employee can quickly learn to modify their performance and begin producing effective results. An employee (and especially a leader) with a “not my problem” attitude is much harder to change. That attitude, if left unchecked and redirected by leadership, will sink a ship far faster than any drill might be capable of.
So how do we keep our ships from sinking? Here are a few approaches that tend to work:
1. Get rid of the drill.
Educate your people properly. Train them to be effective in their roles and teach them how their role contributes to the organization’s mission.
2. Speak up and fill the holes.
Encourage peer development and assistance. Teach your people that helping others improve is valued by the organization’s leaders. Empower them to take action when they see something that doesn’t look right. Lose the “Me” mentality, and encourage the “we” approach.
3. Change out the crew.
If someone on your team is happy to sit by while the water line rises, it might be time to consider bold action. Confront the problem, explain why it’s such an issue, and set clear parameters. If they can’t comply, your organization can only benefit from their absence. First-rate ships have first-rate mates.
Never forget, we impact those around us whether we want to or not. We choose whether it’s a positive or negative experience.
Have a wonderful week Mates!
© Crystal Dyer 2012. All rights reserved.