Back in August of 2012 I wrote about our Education Plan at my company, Kodiak Mountain Stone. If you have never read about it, click on the link and find out more because it has been a pretty good thing we came up with. From each Education Meeting that we have, everyone on our team learns something. But I think the most value comes to the person who is hosting the meeting. As the saying goes, “the teacher is the one who learns the most.”
In the past I’ve shared thoughts and ideas from some of our Education Meetings, but it has been a while since I have passed any of this on. Yesterday we had one of these meetings and I think that the subject that was addressed is awesome and I want to share a little bit about it.
Before I get into the details of the meeting I want to take a step back. A few months ago I was on a conference call with my store manager at my store in Calgary AB. He was frustrated and told me that one of the team members had come in late for the second time that week and used the same excuse as the first time. “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.”
As soon as he told me about this I had a memory flash into my mind. I remembered back to January 9, 2002. That day I was working as a bank manager for ATB Financial, which is a bank located in Alberta, Canada. I had the opportunity that day to attend a managers training meeting where David Irvine spoke to us. The topic that he spoke about that day was one that he had written a book about, “Accountability – Getting a Grip on Results.” The new, updated version of the book is, Bridges of Trust: Making Accountability Authentic
The reason I remember the exact day of this meeting is because I have that book in my library signed and dated by David. I know it was a good meeting because almost 13 years later there are a number of things that I specifically remember him saying. But there are two things that really stood out to me that day.
He told us to imagine ourselves leaving our house with just the right amount of time to get to an important meeting. You are well prepared for the meeting and things are looking good. But then when you are about half way to the meeting you hit some crazy traffic that just about brings you to a halt. You are anxiously putting along and starting to stress more and more about being late for your meeting. Pretty soon the starting time of the meeting comes and goes and you are still blocks away from your meeting place. You finally arrive, park your vehicle and dash to the meeting room. As you enter the room, all eyes are focused directly on you. Sweat is dripping down your forehead and you say…
At that point what words leave your mouth? Most people respond exactly how my employee responded. “Sorry that I’m late, traffic was terrible.” At that time, that is probably exactly how I would respond. But that is not being accountable for your actions. I vividly remember him explaining that the proper response should be something such as, “sorry that I am late, I didn’t leave my home in time to account for the traffic.”
That was an ah-ha moment for me. It completely changed my perspective on personal accountability. As an employer, how would I receive someone coming in late to a meeting who said, “sorry I’m late, traffic was terrible” versus someone who said, “sorry I’m late, I never left home early enough to account for the traffic.” I want to work with the person who is showing me that they can take personal accountability. It doesn’t excuse the fact that they are late, but they are not trying to blame something or someone else for them being late. Thirteen years ago and that story still comes to mind whenever I hear someone not taking personal responsibility.
Another thing that has always stood out to me since that meeting was when David talked about consequences. That negative word, consequences. All my life, whenever I’ve done something wrong or bad, I’ve had to deal with those darn consequences. But what about the times you have done something good. What follows? Those are consequences too, but positive ones! I had always looked at the word, consequence, with negativity. But in reality, there are consequences for everything we do. It’s our own actions that determine if those are positive or negative consequences. Today this is not just an important thing to talk about in our work environment, but as I’m raising four kids from ages 3 to 15 it has been a huge thing we have tried to teach them about too.
So after my conference call with my store manager I immediately emailed David Irvine and asked him to send a copy of his book to my store in Calgary. When it arrived I explained to this particular employee that I wanted him using it for an Education Meeting. I know that he got a lot of good out of the book because my manager told me that there were a number of occasions that he came to him to tell him something he had read about in the book. Yesterday he did a great job with the Education Meeting. I hope that all of my staff learned something from this great book.
The number one lesson that this employee thought our staff needed to learn from the book was that you always have a choice to start with yourself!