Okay, I admit it! And now, I can’t stay in the closet anymore.
I am a Country music fan.
In the office, while we are working, the country music station is blaring in the background! Turned down during calls of course.
Why do I like country western music? First, I can understand the words. Second, the words usually tell a story. Next, the music is usually upbeat (Even when it is a tear-jerking-love-gone-wrong song!). And finally, I was born and raised in Texas so did I ever really have a choice?
Last week, an older song by Rodney Atkins played: “I’ve been watching you, Dad.” The story is simple: Dad says a curse word (under his breath) and a few minutes later his son repeats it. When Dad asks where his son learned to talk like that, the boy says, “I’ve been watching you Dad, ain’t that cool?”
It’s an old story. Most of us do learn by repeating the actions and words of those we look up to, those who have authority, those who are mentors, those we respect. As an owner, a key manager, or a co-worker in a business, you often fall into one of the preceding categories. Do you always remember that old story?
How easy it is to forget who is watching and show frustration with a customer, a supplier, or an employee? The words are out before the consequences of the words are even processed. And the take-away from all the employees who are watching you is that it is okay to say whatever comes to mind regardless of who hears or sees it. The culture of the company has been reinforced.
Then there are the ultimatums that are made. You know the ones that go, “If you guys don’t start selling more maintenance agreements now, I’ll just get rid of the bunch of you.” Everyone knows this is an exaggeration. You can’t let all of them go! Your team was watching you, and they had seen it before and know they are empty words with no follow-up. And work returns to business-as-usual until the next short-lived temper tantrum.
Okay, so you aren’t the person who loses his or her temper. No, you set goals and have meetings. The number of maintenance agreements that must be sold each month is set and even written on a white board. In the first month, the board shows how many were sold, who sold what, and bonuses were paid. In the second month, bonuses were paid, but no one updated the white board. Now, in the third month, everyone gets busy. No one even mentions maintenance agreements. The white board isn’t updated, and no bonuses are paid because no one sold any. Yes, your team was watching you, and each person quickly realized that you weren’t that serious about maintenance agreements and it wasn’t worth the extra effort.
As an owner or key manager, you know that creating a clear vision is critical for the company’s success. You know where you want the company to go. You know what that company looks like when it “grows up.” And you even announce it in a company meeting. Everyone is watching you! So the vision is set and everyone knows what it is. But because everyone is watching you and you don’t reinforce your vision, it does not come to fruition.
Other business owners and managers have been telling you about the importance of creating a business plan. These owners emphasize how important it is to involve the team in creating the plan. Team involvement means that each person plays a part in the creation and accepts the responsibilities of making it happen. Taking responsibility is not a problem because the actions to be taken come from the team, not just the “boss.” So you listen and then decide that is not how things should be done. The actions aren’t right, and besides, no one understands the business as well as you do and no one can do anything as well as you can. So the plan is ignored.
And the next time, work becomes overwhelming and your family doesn’t remember what you look like, you will try to delegate. Unfortunately, the team has been watching you and knows that the request can be ignored. You will either forget about it or do it yourself. Besides, if the team had implemented the request, it wouldn’t have been how you wanted it done because they have been watching you.
Now fortunately for us Country Music lovers, most songs have a happy ending. And Atkins’ song is no exception. Once the dad realizes that his son has been watching him so closely, he prays to be a better father. And yes, as only Country Music can do, the son sees Dad praying and the son begins to pray too.
So never forget, your team, your co-workers, your customers are watching you. Are you happy with what they are seeing?
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