Is it the instrument or the implementation?

First, I must apologize.  The other day I activated a post WELL before it’s time, in fact it was just an idea.  You may have seen a blog post from me that only said this:

Don’t blame the instrument when your implementation failed.

While I didn’t know it at the time, this flub actually proved the point of my message. Let me set the scene…

It’s about 5 am on Saturday.  I am at Beagle’s Bed and Breakfast in Pennsylvania, and it’s the day after some fun sessions with the staff and owners of Knoebel’s Amusement Resort. Even though I am tired, I am awake before my alarm.  I decided to check email, etc. on my phone, so I plopped down on a super comfy chair out in the common room of the B’n’B.  It was at that moment that the idea for the blog post hit me.

I launched the WordPress app on my phone and began typing out the idea.  When I went to save the draft, I published it instead. Oops.

Of course this triggers a number of actions, some that I cannot stop.  A Facebook post, a Tweet, and a ping email are all set in motion with only one sentence of content.  Double oops.

So why did this happen?  I can’t blame my phone or the app, they only did what I told them to do.  I can only point the finger back to a blurry-eyed operator who hit the wrong button.  That would be me.

Taking a step back, the REAL reason this topic came up was because I was talking to someone recently about performance evaluations, and how this person felt sometimes they could do more harm than good.  This led me to think, is it the evaluation itself, or the way we administer it that caused the failure?

There are so many examples of this… we launch a new initiative on any topic (service, productivity, cleanliness, etc.) and find that 6 weeks down the road it’s not working, so we change the initiative.  But was that really the problem, or was it that we didn’t support and follow through well enough to make the initiative work?

If you have ever referred to some new program as a “flavor of the month”, then you know exactly what I am taking about.

Taking this a step further, could there also be a conclusion drawn about the success of our front line leaders and employees?  If they fail or under perform, is it them, or is it because we didn’t prepare, guide and lead them well enough?  I’ll let that one simmer for a bit.

So while no one likes to take blame, we do have to realize when it’s us and our implementation, and not the instrument that is at fault.

Thanks for reading!


Related post: Take The Blame, It’s Okay

About the author: Speaking of placing blame where it doesn’t belong, Matt has uncovered the REAL reasons that employees lose motivation throughout the season. Here’s a hint, it ain’t the heat and long hours.  Check out The Myth of Employee Burnout book and live program for more details!

The power of the fortune cookie

As I was on my way to Las Vegas for the iROC 2014 conference, I had a layover in Phoenix. I was surprised to find a Pei Wei restaurant in the terminal, and further surprised to find that they served bacon and egg fried rice for breakfast. It was actually quite good.

And of course what do you also get with Chinese food? A fortune cookie. Here was my fortune:

Fortune CookieBeing that I was headed to speak at a conference of amusement park professionals, I immediately thought the opportunity could be business related. But what if it wasn’t? What if some other opportunity was headed my way? My attention was heightened in every interaction and circumstance. And why? Because my fortune cookie told me to keep my eyes open.

What if I hadn’t stopped at Pei Wei? What if I had gotten a bagel or a smoothie from another vendor? I wouldn’t have gotten that fortune cookie, and I wouldn’t have been looking at everything that happened as a potential clue to a possible opportunity.

I know there are people that do this already, and it’s certainly an attitude and outlook that I want to develop.

Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” We probably also miss 100% of the opportunities we aren’t looking for.

What was interesting to me is that I wasn’t just looking for the opportunity, the fact that it might be out there influenced me to behave a little differently. I actively put myself in situations that might reveal the opportunity.

Here’s the thing. I have no idea if I have already seen the opportunity and seized it, or if it’s still “soon to arise”. Maybe just the chance to reevaluate my opportunity outlook WAS the opportunity… Or maybe it was more pedestrian than that. Maybe the opportunity was just to be nice and offer my seat at Pei Wei to a large group that couldn’t find seats together (which happened, by the way).

Maybe the opportunity was encapsulated in the inquires I got while in Vegas for two more possible speaking engagements.

Quite honestly, I think the beauty of this is that I just don’t know. If I knew the opportunity had arrived and I took it, I might be more inclined to stop looking.

But I’m not. Believing that there are infinite possibilities out there keeps me searching, alert, and wondering what the next great adventure is going to be.

Thank you, fortune cookie. You gave me more than a tasty end to a surprising meal.

Thanks for reading.


About the author: Matt knows you have an opportunity to help your seasonal supervisors succeed, but that doesn’t mean you have the time or the resources.  Take the opportunity to contact Matt and see what sort of development opportunities he can provide for you and your staff.

Who would write you a blank check?

In addition to teaching people how to make really cool rubber stamping and paper crafting projects, my wife also sells the materials and supplies needed for such creations. The other day, after a class here at the house, a customer left a blank check for Linda.

Okay, it wasn’t entirely blank, it had Linda’s name on it and the date, and the customer had signed it, but she hadn’t filled in the amount. Apparently they were waiting on a price to complete the order, so her customer just left the check on the counter for Linda to fill in whenever she got the total.

It occurred to me that she had to have A LOT of trust in Linda to leave her with a blank check. Then I thought about this as a leader.

Who would write you a blank check?

Who would trust you so implicitly that they would trust you with some of their most valuable assets? In this case, we are talking about money, but your employees entrust you with their time, their ideas, and their effort.  Do they do so willingly, or hesitantly?

As I write this, I am realizing that I have probably written an inordinate amount of posts about trust.  Doing a quick search of just my posts, there are at least 10 that are tagged with trust.  Do a Google search on the word trust, and you get about 243,000,000 results.  Now, that includes entries for living trusts, etc., but you get the idea.

Trust is a big deal.

And it’s not just with your employees… it’s with your co-workers, your boss, your vendors, your spouse, your kids, your friends…. holy leadership, Batman! That’s a lot of people who need to trust you.

Let’s turn the tables – how many people in your circle (friends, employees, co-workers) would YOU write a blank check for?  How many people do YOU trust implicitly?

Is that a short list of close friends, family, and some people you know through work?  What is it about those relationships that you would put 100% trust in that person not to hurt you?

I think that’s what struck me about the blank check.  Had Linda been a MUCH, MUCH different person, she could have taken that check (and the routing and account numbers) and done massive harm to the person who left it with her.  But she didn’t.  And there is a good chance her customer will trust her with a blank check again.

If you want to know what you need to do to get people to trust you that much, think about the people YOU trust.  What have they done to earn your trust?  What do they continue to do on a daily or weekly basis that shows you that you can be confident that no matter what you share or do, they will not hurt you?

Want people to trust you?  Do what the people do that you trust.  It’s a two way street.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: Matt knows that you need to trust that your seasonal supervisors have your back and will work diligently for the good of your employees and the company.  The skill and commitment needed for that doesn’t appear overnight, but with some targeted training and development, you can certainly speed up the process.