Have you looked at yourself lately? I spent 20 minutes waiting for MTN’s call center to answer the phone. I then hung up and posted the screen shots on to my Facebook page only to be met with dozens of people who have had a similar experience. In fact, some even bragged that they held out longer than I did. Nobody answered the phone.
I paid a deposit to get a poker table made, 3 months later no table, only excuses. I paid Flick to service and waterproof my roof. I had to call them back twice to fix the job and it’s still not done 100%. I paid the DSTV guy thousands to install my system. I still battle to change the channels after calling him back twice. I pay my gym fees at Virgin Active yet I had to pack away all the weights left on the floor while the staff were busy texting, flirting with each other at the front desk, and basically standing around staring into space.
So are the staff really to blame? Yes, and no.
I believe the blame lies squarely on managers, supervisors, directors, CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s, and any other “O” who is a main “O”. Basically, the people whose job it is to make sure that people actually do their job.
Let’s face it, if nobody is checking up on me, if there is no accountability, if there are no consequences why the hell am I going to do the job? Your job Mr/s. Leader, as the person in authority, is to get your staff to answer the bloody phone. Your job is to get your staff to solve the problem, fix the roof, build the table, and pack away the weight equipment. It’s your bloody job to motivate, cajole, coerce, motivate, kick, scream, explain, and get them to do their bloody jobs.
If you can’t do the job of getting your people to do their jobs, then you should change your job.
The real problem is that most managers or people in senior positions hate conflict. They believe that they are there to be liked, and to be popular, so they don’t rock the boat.
My research has shown that up to 80% of managers will not hold staff accountable for fear of conflict.
Did you get that? 80% of the shocking, dismal, pathetic service goes unchecked because managers are too scared to hold people accountable. They just shift the complaints to the 20% who actually do their jobs, thereby putting them under stress and creating a culture of resentment.
There seems to be such a need to be Mr. Popular or Mrs. Friendly, that no one is chastised for not doing his or her job. This country is crying out for leadership and it’s not only in government. You Mr. CEO, Mr. COO, Mrs. CFO, Mr. Regional Manager, Director, Sales Manager, Supervisor, are not there to be liked, you are not there to make friends. You have one job, to get your reports to do their bloody jobs. If Carte Blanche gives you Intel about your company that you didn’t know; you are fired. Hand over the keys, the expense account, the debentures, the shares, the bonuses and shaded parking, and allow a grown-up to run the company. You know, someone with balls who can make decisions and hold people accountable. It is your job to know if a customer has taken to social media as a final measure, and unless you have already fired someone; you’re fired. If you do not have enough resources and nobody is listening to you and all of your efforts, then just resign. It’s really quite simple; do your job or leave.
In my past life when I was a boss, I was not very popular. I wasn’t popular because I was the one that held people accountable. I was the one who would fire you if you slept on duty. I was the one who would let you go if you didn’t reach your target as you promised to do in the terms and conditions of your employment contract. I was the one who insisted on discipline, protocol and service delivery no matter what the hour. I was the director who worked through the night shadowing my armed response officers. I was the one training them on weekends, after hours and on the job. I was the one doing the 3am checks. As a result nobody could touch us for our service and professionalism. We as a company not only set the benchmark for security companies in our area; we fundamentally changed the way security companies operated in this country today. Our people were constantly headhunted because our opposition knew we only accepted the best from them. Funny thing was, that very few of our good staff ever left.
Do you have to be a tough nut always? Yes.
It always amazes me how today, people speak about Steve Jobs as a great visionary leader, yet anybody who actually worked for him would tell you he was the toughest, most uncompromising person they had worked for. He was a stickler for deadlines, initiative, accountability, and he wielded a big axe. Great leaders lead by example. The staff and the people know where they stand, and they know about all the expectations and standards that are expected of them. They know the consequences if they do not perform. They also know that the leader is fair and firm. Their leader is their motivator who inspires them to go out every day and to make a difference.
Show me a miserable staff member and I will show you a miserable manager, senior manager or CEO.
The time has come for you to let go of your expense account, come out from your shade netted parking area, and start leading by example. And yes that means holding people accountable and fighting the good fight. Yes you will be called unfair, you will be called a hard arse, you will be called a racist, you will be called a misogynist, you will be called unreasonable, and on and on, but that’s part of being a leader and holding people accountable.
Will you be popular? Not with the slackers and the lazy people. But you will be loved and admired by the customers, the hard workers, your superiors and the shareholders. You may have a heart of gold but so does a hard-boiled egg.
So stop asking me, your conference speaker, to speak about accountability and taking ownership.
- Let me first ask how are you holding your people accountable?
- How are you making them responsible?
- And how are you enforcing that they take ownership and the consequences of nonperformance?
- Stop making excuses and lead
- Stop complaining and lead
- Stop pointing fingers and lead
- Stop being absent and lead
- Stop backing away from conflict and lead
- Stop trying to cover your own arse, get involved and lead
- Stop hiding behind gatekeepers and lead
- Stop hiding in your office and get on the floor, be seen, walk around, sit in on meetings and listen in on phone calls and lead
- Stop going to lunches and golf days and lead
- Stop having meetings, oh my word, STOP HAVING MEETINGS about customer service and walk out the door or answer the phone, the customer is waiting to speak to you, lead.
- Don’t meet about me, talk to me
- Stop giving them a pass and lead
- Stop making excuses for them and lead
- Stop blaming others, show them, teach them, let them do it in front of you, and then have the balls to lead
People love to be led, people need to be led, people thrive on boundaries and firm leadership. Just like a child they want a strong, confident, competent, firm, fair, fun, inspiring parent who doesn’t take any nonsense. A parent who is not afraid to correct their behavior and who expects, no demands, that you deliver only your best.
People need to know the boundaries, and they thrive on tough love. People need direction. People need to be inspired every morning to go out and face the public and the customers. To come back bruised and beaten by the experiences of the harsh economic climate, the tough customers, and the unfair guerrilla tactics of the opposition. And when they drag themselves all battle worn back into the office at the end of the day, they need a strong Platoon Sergeant, Company Commander or General to welcome them back; to patch up their wounds, to inspire them, to believe in them, and to motivate them to go back into the field and face down the enemy again.
They need to see your battle scars and to hear your war stories on how you came out alive and thriving in the end. And no matter how tough it gets, there is always tomorrow and you will be right there pushing them and stretching them and making them better.
They need a damn leader, not an excuse maker or someone who’s not even there most of the time. Knowing that you have a true leader back at home base that understands you and your challenges, gives you strength. Knowing that your General is in the trenches with you makes you not only do the right thing, but it also gives you the confidence to achieve almost anything.
Why do you think the great Generals would always visit the front? Some not only visited, but they based their command on the battlefield where the troops could see them. Fighting shoulder to shoulder, sharing the danger and leading from the front are the hallmarks of true leaders. If you didn’t do your job you were court-martialed, and the sentence for abandoning your post, for not doing your job; death. (In the corporate world, the death of your job!)
You can’t tell a true leader anything about her company because she runs her company. She is there and sees things as they happen. She has no slackers because she fires them as they slack and she KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON.
The best manager I ever worked with was tough, uncompromising, and unmoving on matters of delivery, honour, integrity and doing your job. He was firm but fair.
I dedicate this piece to Captain Smith. Also known as Captain “Fleckie”. We called him “patchy” because he would become so angry when people didn’t do their jobs that the blood rushed from his face leaving only patches of red and white skin. We both feared him and respected him because he held us to a higher standard. He was one of the toughest men I ever worked for but he taught me how to be a true leader and not to shy away from holding people accountable and the conflict it came with. Where ever you are today Sir, I salute you.
Now stop reading this stuff and go out and LEAD.