As bosses in the middle, we believe that everyone can do their very best, every day. Part of that belief encompasses another belief, that every issue has a solution. Even though these two things are true, from time to time, we fail. Why? We believe that it’s because people aren’t thinking critically in crucial situations. Every incident investigation I have ever done into a system failure, has some form of human error factored in. Most of the time, it’s communication or the lack of communication. We can’t predict every possible scenario that may happen during a project, but we can teach people how to think through these issues. By empowering our teams and setting expectations, we believe we can get to the core of setbacks before they happen.
We believe this is accomplished through full engagement in the task, while remaining aware of potential obstacles.
I’ll offer 3 things that we as leaders must tell our teams, in order to set the expectation and influence the type of behavior we want to see.
1. Folks should always have a full understanding of what’s happening right in front of them. If anything happens contrary to what should be happening, they need to recognize that as a red flag.
2. You’re team members should be allowed to stop projects if they have a question. Not just their project, but anyone else’s. They should never get in trouble for that. Production should never be placed above doing what’s right. Ever. Nothing needs to be done faster, if it means sacrificing quality. A simple thing I always say is, it’s better to stop the job and be wrong, than to allow the job to continue and find out later you should have stopped it.
3. There is no such thing as a dumb question, but there have been plenty of dumb decisions. Ask somebody. Talk. Exhaust all resources. Get somebody in the boat with you.
Remember, have these discussions directly with the people doing the work. Setting expectations is paramount to a high performing team’s ability to succeed. Without this, there may as well not be a leader. Failure is imminent.