It’s a horrible feeling. That sudden realisation that the wrong fuel has gone into the car. I’ve done it myself – in fact, I did it the other day. I made the fatal mistake of putting petrol in my diesel vehicle, but fortunately I realised what I had done before starting the engine. From what I understand it is not an uncommon mistake, particularly for those that regularly swap between diesel and petrol cars.
After several phone calls I realised that the only thing I could do was to engage a ‘fuel removal specialist’. Although I had a busy day in front of me I had no choice but to wait for two hours at the filling station for the expert to arrive so he could suck the petrol out of the tank and thus avoid serious damage to my engine. Not only did this cost two hours of my time, it cost $275.00 for the service. A costly experience, but a small cost in comparison to what I would have had to pay for engine repairs, had I started my engine.
On reflection, there are two reasons why this incident happened; I was rushing and I wasn’t truly present in the moment.
Relating this experience to business, how often do employers make a rash decision because they are rushing and not present in the moment? Maybe they make a poor hiring decision and promote the ‘not quite suitable’ person from within the company, or employ an external candidate even when their gut feeling says they shouldn’t – but they do so anyway because it seems the easiest option and they just want to get it done.
I have made this mistake too and it is one that I always regretted. Like the fuel scenario, hiring the wrong person can be detrimental to business – much like putting petrol in a diesel engine. Not only can this lead to a financial cost to the business, it can also undermine the culture within the team. In this example, your investment in an effective recruitment process to ensure you have the right people on board will pay significant dividends over time and will more than compensate for the time and effort you put in.
We live in a busy, sometimes chaotic world, so we need to raise our awareness around this propensity to rush. Rushing affects our ability to be present, it increases our stress levels, it can lead to mistakes and it can inhibit our ability to make effective business decisions. So take your time – and don’t ruin your business engine.
Have you ever considered that the way we treat our employees has similarities to how we bring up our children?
If we don’t guide our children, establish boundaries, praise when appropriate and clearly communicate consequences, then we are probably doing them a disservice.
A child turns into a teenager and if that teenager goes off the rails and becomes a recidivist youth offender as a result of a dysfunctional family and a lack of strong core values, who is responsible for this teenager’s anti-social and criminal behaviour? The answer is probably both the teenager and the family. But think about the influence the parents could have had on this outcome if the teenager had been brought up in a different environment, one of
If this were the case, I am sure we would be talking about a different teenager!
In this example it is easy to lay the blame of this anti-social behaviour with the teenager; some people will even say ‘lock him up and throw away the key’, as if the problem will just go away. But we do need to ask ourselves; “Where does the real problem lie?”.
A similar philosophy applies in business. We diligently recruit staff to give us the best chance of finding the right person, with the required skillset and strong core values to ensure they have the right attitude and attributes to fit with our organisation. This is the first step, but once employed, similar to bringing up children, we need to provide them an environment where they can develop and flourish.
A poor performing employee may be managed out a business or even fired, but does that performance issue rest with the employee or the employer? The answer again is probably both, but if this employee was working for an employer that had a;
clear vision for the business,
an engaged and positive culture,
clear goals and expectations for all staff,
consistency, empathy and inspirational leadership
I am sure we could well be talking about a different outcome for this employee.
Often our first instinct is to blame, in this case ‘let’s fire the troublesome employee’, but shouldn’t we first look inwards to see if we have contributed to this outcome and ask ourselves whether we have done everything we possibly can to give this employee the best chance of succeeding?
If we can answer ‘yes’ to this question then we can move forward with conviction and certainty. Staff will still need to be praised, disciplined and some poor performers may still lose their jobs, but we can act with confidence in the knowledge that we have done everything we can to positively influence the outcome.