TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES?
Success isn't as simple as setting a KPI and going for it. We often forget the other side of the equation – the consequence for not hitting that target. Fiona Blayney explores how we can achieve more by being clear with the outcomes for both success and failure.
Last week I overheard Michael (my husband) having a ‘discussion' with Miss Six about the chewing gum that continued to find its way into her mouth and, in her hurry to hide the evidence, was now sitting not so eloquently in my mother-in-law's carpet. My kids have no chance at successful lying, thanks to the look they get on their faces teamed with my husband being a barrister. The kids have experienced cross-examination from an early age and you could see the heat rising through Michael's face, especially when he found the device used for smuggling in the contraband was not a boogie board but Miss Four, who was
tasked with carrying the gum inside a jewellery box, inside a shoebox (go figure). So now we also had an accomplice. Feeling ignored, Michael did what most parents have done at this time of year when everyone's lying, there's chewing gum in your mum's new carpet and your frustration has gone to 100. You go to the extreme and pull out the ultimate punishment. “Hand over all the chewing gum or I'm calling Santa and there will be no presents this Christmas.”
Boom! Mic drop moment. Or is it?
Michael's consequences for telling the ‘truth' were about to get tested. Miss Six is getting smarter every day; her little mind was ticking over the important questions. What are the chances they'll find that hidden chewing gum? Would Dad ring Santa and tell him not to bring me presents? No doubt she came up with a resounding ‘no' to each question.
And there you have it. We were told there was no more chewing gum, despite her face telling a different story. You see, we'd given her a no-consequence-consequence; as adults, we tend to do this quite a bit.
It doesn't take an investigator to find lines being set, crossed, blurred and ignored in homes and businesses everywhere. Why? When it comes to business, despite having KPIs and one-to-ones, we tend to miss the next step: the clear consequences for poor performance. When we assume people know what will happen if they don't follow the process or achieve the results, there is a surprise when our expectations are misaligned. Typically, it culminates in an emotionally charged response.
As a mother, manager and leader I've found that, aged six or 66, no one likes surprise consequences. Taking the time in the calm of the day to create your plan, develop the rules and set the consequences for lack of adherence or achievement ensures there is a clear picture of expectations for those involved.
Whether you're sitting at the boardroom or the dinner table, having everyone buy into the process, through agreement or simply understanding and acceptance, allows everyone the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, and the results they bring for ourselves and others.
It would have been far easier for me to send Miss Six off to school this morning without reducing today's funds for the Year 6 Lunch Stalls by $1. It near killed me as I took that money back, but we'd had a chat and agreed that it would be a fair consequence for not being ready on time. So when the time came, and Barbie had been chosen over packing our bag, there were no tears but a mutual sadness over the loss of that extra doughnut, and a discussion over how we could do better tomorrow.
WHEN WE ASSUME PEOPLE KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THEY DON’T FOLLOW THE PROCESS OR ACHIEVE THE RESULTS, THERE IS A SURPRISE WHEN OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE MISALIGNED.