31 Game Changing Questions Day 27

In Blog by Jamie Stuck

QUESTION 27: WHAT IF WE BEHAVED AS IF WE WERE 100% RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP?

We need to hold the idea that we are 100% responsible for the relationship and its outputs. And that everyone else involved is too. Co-creating results is not 50/50. It’s 100/100.

We are not talking here about effort or commitment, as when we say we’re ‘going to give it 100%’. I’m talking about responsibility and ownership of relationship.

A practical example of this is when Frank and her manager Marie agree he will fulfil a set of tasks by this time next week. In this conversation and its aftermath, Frank is 100% responsible for saying Yes to the work and for doing it – or not. Frank is also 100% responsible for avoiding Marie during the week and not letting her know ahead of the deadline that he was going to fail to deliver. No surprises there, perhaps. We are used to talking like this in organizations. We like the idea that people will do what they say, and trust that they will be ‘held accountable’ if they don’t.

However, in this example, Marie too is 100% responsible:

  • for asking Frank to do the tasks, in the way that she did, to whatever level of detail, without any clear agreement of whether Frank was both willing and able to complete the request, and
  • for not clearly raising any doubts she might have had when he said Yes, and
  • for not contacting him during the week when she hadn’t heard from Frank and was worried that his silence meant he wasn’t going to deliver.

The work didn’t get delivered because Frank didn’t act to complete it and because Marie kept silent.

In the common currency of organizations, actions are said to speak louder than words, and so we worry a great deal when people don’t behave as we expect them to. So in this example, the lack of action by Frank gets all the focus (and remembered in his Performance Review!) But who knows: maybe one simple expression of doubt by Marie earlier on in the week might have utterly changed how Frank acted.

The traditional way of fixing this sort of failure-to-deliver is by someone ‘coaching’ Frank on the importance of doing what you say. But again this is an oversimplification of the dynamic at work, and the coach might also explore the tacit complicity between the two during the week as the tasks failed to materialise.

This attitudinal shift towards 100/100% brings about true joint ownership of problems and solutions as an everyday way of operating rather than as an espoused team-working ideal written on a flipchart.

EXERCISE:

Share the idea of our working relationships being jointly owned 100/100% with your team. Explore times when you have all acted like that to your mutual benefit. Identify deviations from that ideal. What new agreement will you make as a team?

Listen to day 27 HERE.

Love,

David & Charrise