Rules … they’re for everyone else!

I spent yesterday chasing a white ball around an Arizona golf course. It was great fun and I even beat my older brother by four strokes. However, before we ever got started I was left wondering why so many people believe “the rules”, whichever rules they are, are designed for the other people.

We got to the course early, and could have started early, if some of the golfers paid any attention to the Golf Club’s rules. Two in particular were ignored from the start: move at a good pace so you don’t hold up other golfers and the 90 degree rule.

The 90 degree rules requests that carts be driven on the fairways and off at right angles. I saw carts heading in all directions and, based on the waist lines of most of the golfers, a little walk wouldn’t have hurt any of the offending folks.

Ignoring the “keep a good pace” rule meant that there were several groups of golfers waiting at many holes while one group took its sweet time. While in the Pro Shop I heard the pro take a cell phone call from a golfer on the course complaining about those in front of him. The pro had to send someone out to move the group along. The backup of golfers also meant the club ran out of carts for new golfers.

Now, is the ignoring of either of these rules earth-shaking? Hardly, but I’ve seen the same mentality in dozens of companies when I’ve consulted or facilitated training sessions. The rules are for you and not for me. After all, I’m special, more intelligent and when I break the rules it really doesn’t hurt anyone. Don’t you dare inflict the same insensitivity on me!

I know there are rules that don’t seem to make sense in many organizations. If you come across ones that seem ridiculous, find out why they’re still there and if they should be changed, work to change them. We all know that many rules are out-of-date, so change them. As to the rules that make sense, they’re designed to protect and serve us all, not just some folks. Safety Co-ordinators can point to dozens of situations each year where lives are lost because someone defied just “one little rule”.

As a leader, you are expected to lead the change and lead by example. Do both for your organization. Lead when the changes are necessary and lead by example in all other situations. What example are you setting?

 Garth Roberts

Met Any Corporate Rock Stars Lately?

Have you ever run into a 60-year-old who’s still trying to be a rock star? I don’t mean someone who’s in the music business and still making a living at sixty. I mean the person who’s never been in a particular business niche but is still trying with the same bravado of a twenty-year-old?

I’ve met a few people like that. I’d call them pretenders. They pretend, or believe, that they know what’s going on but really don’t have a clue. Not only do they not have a clue but they don’t accept the clues (advice) from others.

In the business world I continue to meet corporate rock stars. They are correct. They have the most brilliant plans. They know the “right” way to do things.

The frustrating thing for their co-workers is that these “rock stars” are frequently promoted way above their talent level. There doesn’t seem to be a Simon Cowell to bring them to a halt. Why is that?

Have you met any corporate rock stars who are out-of-tune with the rest of the band but still forge ahead in their careers? I’d love to hear your stories.

Garth Roberts

What Price Communication?

I sit in an airport, having just noticed that my flight is delayed two hours. It’s an interesting airport as my gate is blocked off while domestic flights land. The sign on the glass doors that hold us back from C43 says it will open at 9:30ish. The “ish” obviously has a lot of latitude as my question to an attendant at 9:50 garnered me an explanation of the sign’s purpose. The whole concourse was let in on the secret at 10:10. Many individual questions were asked before the attendant thought it was prudent to share this information via the intercom system.

Communication is very cheap so why is it we’re so reluctant to communicate? Two attendants were hovering around Gate 31 during the time travelling bodies began collecting at the closed doors. The available concourse seats were quickly filled. Both attendants chose to ignore the collecting masses and never shared information. The “ish” sign never got changed so “9:30ish” expanded to cover a lot of time. There was lots of chatting between attendants at the desk but little communication with the customers. All this inadequate communication came from an airline that prides itself on announcing that their staff members are owners and safety and service are their strongest desires.

How are you doing in your business? Are you communicating what you should, when you should? Information is an empowering commodity and it’s not to be horded because of lack of awareness or consideration. It took the attendant less than 30-seconds to make the clarifying announcement and she repeated it within five minutes. For another hour the line of people waited for the doors to open and no other announcement was made. I gather those already in line were expected to pass the information along.

Do you have standard announcements you make over intercoms or via other electronic devices? If you do, remember your audience isn’t necessarily familiar with your information, lingo, or jargon. The audience just may benefit from a slower, more pronounced way of speaking. The same two attendants rattled off their door and boarding announcements so quickly and so indistinctly they were hard to hear, let alone understand.

Be clear, concise and distinct with your communication. Your audience will love you for it. Well, they’ll at least appreciate you for it and they will know what is expected from them. Remember, when you communicate the listener is the most important partner in the conversation. If you doubt that and feel it’s what you have to say that is the most important, you’re wrong. You are communicating to get someone to learn, do or accept based on your information. It’s about what you want the other person to do, so the communication is about them, not you. Don’t be stingy with your information. Share it to those who need it. Share it often, clearly and concisely.

Remember; don’t announce how proud you are of your service and horde information from your customers—internal and external. Information is power that is meant to be shared!

Garth Roberts