Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We find these truths self-evident

This line from the Declaration of Independence is one of the most powerful ever penned.

Truth, real truth, can stand on its own. It needs no defense.

People have an innate ability to ferret out truth. Like cream on fresh milk, truth has a way of naturally coming to the top. If you give people enough space and room they will consistently spot truth and do the right thing.

I frequently talk to business owners who don't think their employees will make the right decision if they don't make it for them. Let me frame this in another light, in the United States legal system we literally make life-and-death decisions based on the ability of 12 random people to ferret out truth and make a quality decision. While it's not perfect, the system is highly accurate and effective.

If you give employees the opportunity to ferret out truth, do you really think they won’t make the right decision? Of course they will, and if they don't, and it is their decision, they will more than likely do everything they can to make it work. Isn’t that what you really want from your people -- for them to be all in emotionally and mentally?

A highly committed and fully engaged workforce with a good idea will outperform an apathetic team with a great idea virtually every time.

So let’s revisit the idea that your people might make a bad decision.
If they are fully vested in the process of making the decision and they have to live with the results, they will be the first ones to tell you they made a mistake. Without being told, they will regroup and move in the right direction.


Because people tend to take responsibility for what they own.
We tend to not take responsibility for things we don’t own. If your people are not taking responsibility, I can almost guarantee you they don’t own what is going on in your business.

Let me give you a quick example.
I live on the east side of Springfield. While I may be intrigued by crime stories in Kansas City or St Louis, they are of little concern to me. When I start hearing about crime in Springfield, then I become concerned. When the crime happens in my neighborhood, I am alarmed. When the crime happens at my house, I am outraged. In this process I have moved from passive spectator to fully engaged participant. Everything changes when it involves what I personally own.

If you want your employees to be more responsible, let them completely own both the decision making process and the results. And remember, it is hard to argue with the truth.

1 comment:

  1. K. Engler, Clinical Associate ProfessorOctober 17, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    You hit the nail on the head, Randy! For one of the final graduate courses required in our master's program, I stepped back and allowed the student's to create the course based on course goals and students' needs, including the evaluation component. I have been impressed by the outcomes which have been student driven w/ faculty support!