What were you thinking?!
“What were you thinking?!” If you haven’t said it, chances are you’ve heard it in the workplace. In other words, “what kind of idiot would do something like that?” Unfortunately, I have uttered (or at least thought) that cringe-worthy question far too often in my management career.
To the person taking the action, what they did made perfect sense. It took me a long time to realize that people do what they do for a good reason, but it is for their reasons not necessarily yours.
What this means for you and I as leaders is that if people aren’t behaving in ways that support your organization’s success, they are probably playing a different game than we are. Rest assured, they are playing to win, but they are playing to win their game not necessarily yours.
In my experience the three most likely reasons for misaligned action, in order of importance, are:
Clarity – I, as a leader, I have not clearly defined what winning looks like apart from keeping the boss happy. Think vison, mission, purpose, and/or goals.
Connection – I, as a leader, I have not reached out and engaged my staff in how they can contribute to achieving the items in #1 above. Think empowering people to use their strengths, unique ability, and passions to drive success and create a sense of personal ownership.
Culture – They genuinely are not interested in being a part of what we are doing. While rarely the case, it does happen. Think, bad organizational fit. Help them find a place that is a good fit for them somewhere else. One of the best ways to address all the above is to get a group of stakeholders together and build your own strategic plan. Together, you can clearly define what success looks like and seamlessly create natural buy-in and ownership. Once winning is clearly defined and you have empowered your people to get it done, there is no longer a place for people who are a bad cultural fit to hide. They usually self-select and opt out of your organization.
So honestly, what were you thinking? Given what we know about organizational effectiveness, why wouldn’t you engage your people in building out an effective plan for 2020? We would love to help.