Honesty Really Won’t Kill You

Why do some of us lie?  Why can’t we be accountable for when we screw up instead of using some lame excuse?  Do we really think that the world is so stupid they will fall for whatever we tell them?

All of this ran through my mind this week, when after 4, count them, 4 weeks, a person I had emailed twice and left two voice messages (1 contact each week) for the past month offers this lame excuse for just now being able to return an email…..

“So sorry for not getting back to you sooner.  I lost my iphone and my Outlook was out of commission all in the same week!”

I read that pathetic response and almost asked, what catastrophe happened during the other 3 weeks you went absent without leave?  Give me a break!

Now the fact that I responded “that it was sure a bad technology week” for her, almost lends itself to answering my own question.  I let her off the hook, so her excuse as pathetic as it was, actually worked.  Although 4 weeks had passed, and given a 40-hour work week is only 160 hours, I let her get away with being unresponsive and unproductive.

Yet if I had told her that her lack of focus, and disrespect for my time and my productivity had an impact we no doubt would NOT still be talking today.  I needed to take responsibility for what I could do and let go of what I could not make happen.  I just find it sad that we need to endorse people who lie in order to maintain the business relationship.

On the other hand, I have personally found that when I have come straight out and admitted, “gee I dropped the ball on this one, so sorry, how can we get this back on track?” I have developed an even stronger rapport with the person.  It is not that I go out of my way to screw up to use this response, but when I do it seems to work better than getting creative with a fable.

So which side of the fence are you sitting on?  Does honesty pay well in the end, or is it better to lie now to get what you need?

Stupid Things To Do

Most of us would agree that robbing a police officer is a stupid thing to do, but does it make anymore sense to rob their spouse? 

What about complaining about your banker to a fellow customer that just happens to have a sibling working for the same branch?

Would you ever intentionally spray the neighborhood kid with the hose if you didn’t know who their parents were?

My point is that we are pretty good at not doing stupid things directly to the people who could rapidly take action against us, but what about other people.  Do we ever stop to think about who these people might know and how our actions could come back to bite us?

Let’s take the first example of robbing the spouse of a police officer.  I don’t care if the officer is male or female, you are going to be hunted down, found, and prosecuted.  It is almost as much a man hunt when you hurt a police officer directly, and hurting their spouse would engage the same wrath because you went after a family member.

Not too many banking customer realize that the things they say often get back to the bank’s management without a relative blabbing your remarks.  Many times it is the customer who is loyal to the bank that likes to tattle on their fellow customer so their bankers know who they are dealing with.  In banking, it pays to be friends with the bankers and when you need a fee waived because you screwed up, a good relationship will often save you the money.

The last example is meant to introduce the overall concept of parental involvement in the lives of their children.  Hosing a neighborhood kid to be funny isn’t going to be so funny if their parent can kick your butt.  Yet if you don’t think about who that child might be connected to, you are risking a lot by acting first.

In this country we have layers upon layers of employment laws.  Teens and young adults are often victims of lame managers that don’t follow the rules.  They rightly figure that this new employee is clueless and they can get away with harassment, wage and hour laws, interview questions and my all time favorite game of forced resignation.  Yet I can tell you from experience that Mom & Dad are not that naive, and can spot these actions immediately.  And can you imagine if one of these parents is a Human Resources Professional?

Now while I can advise my daughter how to react to these situations, my personal talent comes in the form of knowing how to track and document the actions of the manager into a solid corrective action.  In other words, I know how to document a path to eventual termination, and/or a winning lawsuit.  And as a well-connected Human Resources Professional, I can often find the right person at the company to turn this documentation into for immediate disciplinary action.

Factor in that if a person is capable of noting inappropriate behavior, understanding the applicable laws, can document it and get it to the right person, imagine the additional motivation of a parent protecting their child.  Talk about the mother grizzly effect!

My advise it to play by the rules with everyone, because you never know who they know and how it can come back and bite your inappropriate behavior!

Being Responsive To Others

Have you ever stopped to realize that before the invention of cell phones, heck even pagers, when you called someone and left a message, they returned the call?  So in this world of instant contact, why is it so darn difficult to return a call?

I can somehow understand this level of rudeness when it comes to returning the “sales person’s” calls, but what about when you are the potential customer and the service you called can’t get their act together to return a call?

Noting that our economy is not running at full steam, or anything remotely close to busy, I find it strange that businesses cannot figure out a way to capture the business they have at their fingertips.  Hello, it walked in the front door and is waiting to make a purchase, so get off your butt and close the sale!

Recently I have been doing some remodeling and I cannot believe how many times I have had to leave messages with painters, carpenters and assorted other people.  I’ve got to the point where I feel like I am begging them to work for me.  Sorry, not begging, especially in this economy, so I move on to another source.

Yesterday I left the third message for a painter, and finally added that if he was not interested, don’t return the call, otherwise I wanted to hear back from him today.  The person I got the referral from told me he is busy and often doesn’t return calls.

In my mind, if you cannot return a phone message and fit 2 minutes into your day for this task, then you are too busy for my potential business too and probably can’t do the work!  Yet even if he is too busy, by returning the call and telling me this, I at least leave with a good impression.  Instead I won’t refer anyone to this person!

No one person, or one company is so indispensible in this country that they have no competition!  So if you want to stand out from your competitors, answer the phone!  Or at the very least, return the call.

100 Postings – Where Now?

About two years ago I started writing a weekly blog, primarily to think through some of the many issues facing corporations large and small that I have been working with, and spreading the ideas to a wider audience.  Today marks my 100th posting, and if you had asked me two years ago if I could write 100 blogs I’d have said not a chance.

While I have tried to use these postings as a way to encourage those that are not doing by sharing stories from those that are doing I believe I have touched only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the areas of management, leadership, customer service and workplace issues.  The amount of topics seem plentiful for at least another 100 blogs.

Yet I am seeking feedback from those willing to share where I should concentrate my efforts.  A few have told me that the blogs that poke fun (in humor) about those lost leadership souls, and ineffective HR are the most fun and that I should write more of them.

Others have said I tend to avoid the “Lousy Leader” that should be called out as the threat they are to our civilization.  Yet in the process of writing a book on lousy leaders I found the topic depressing just to think about the winners I’ve had to work with.  Yet in truth there are days when I would like to write with more “kicking butt and taking names” as the theme.

Others still tell me to avoid the typical “feel good leadership” as no one really reads them, and those that do aren’t changing to become more in alignment, so why bother?

I feel like I am at a cross-roads and could use some feedback as to where my readers would like to see me concentrate for a while at least.  If you are uncomfortable commenting, then send me an email at jim@jkhopkinsconsulting.com