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Tag Archives: employee failure

Employee growth and development occurs when we give our people the tools and resources they need

It’s been a while since I last posted in our video series focusing on ideas for employee growth and development, so I’m back with Tip #15.  Today’s advice: give your employees the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Set your people up to succeed by giving them the tools and resources they need

As leaders, we give our employees tasks to complete and obligations to fulfill.  But occasionally, without meaning to, we inadvertently set them up to fail.  “How?” you ask?  We do it by giving them the responsibility for the job, BUT not giving them the authority or the resources they need to get the job done.

So we ask an employee to process invoices online but it takes three days for him to get the system access he requires to do it.  We’ve set him up to fail.

We bring a new employee on board but there is insufficient time to get her fully trained to do what she needs to do.  We’ve set her up to fail.

A staff member is responsible for conducting inventory in the warehouse, but rather than giving him a handheld scanner, we hand him a notebook and a pencil, and tell him to do a manual count.  We’ve just set him up to fail. Continue reading

Can the latest apology from United Airlines heal the rift?

United AirlinesOn April 12, I blogged about the immediate aftermath of United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’ (lack of) leadership.  This following the upsetting video that surfaced the night of April 9th, showing the violent removal of a passenger from an aircraft.  On April 19, I wrote a further commentary in my regular column for The Globe & MailLessons from the United Airlines debacle (or how not to destroy your brand) – in which laid out five leadership lessons that any CEO should internalize so as not to find themselves in similar shaky situations in the future.

Is it too little, too late?

I still maintain that this unfortunate United Airlines incident is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act in a state of crisis (particularly in the age of the Internet).  But I am pleased to say that on April 27, Munoz also demonstrated how to do it right.  United issued the results of their internal investigation as well as a public apology in major newspapers, individual apologies to the airline’s frequent flyers (I got an email) and a statement on their website.  Granted, it may be the proverbial equivalent of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but in my opinion, late is better than never.  Continue reading

Leadership lessons from the United Airlines debacle (or how not to destroy your brand overnight)

Last week I blogged about the immediate aftermath of United Airlines’ CEO Oscar Munoz’ (lack of) leadership.  This following the upsetting video that surfaced the night of April 9th, showing the violent removal of a passenger from an aircraft.  My column in both the online and print editions of today’s Globe and Mail continues on this very topic.  This unfortunate United Airlines incident is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act in a state of crisis (particularly in the age of the Internet).  In today’s column – Lessons from the United Airlines debacle – published in this morning’s print and online editions, I outline five leadership lessons that any CEO can take to heart.   In the interest of not destroying your brand overnight, these five things that are well worth considering and internalizing so as not to find yourself in a similar shaky scenario at any point in the future.

Five lessons that every leader should internalize

This is a topic that has been fodder for many a water cooler and coffee station conversation for the last 1-½ weeks with opinions that have ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.  You know my point of view, but I’m interested in yours.  What could Munoz have done differently to manage this situation more effectively?  With the benefit of hindsight, what other lessons would leaders take away from this unfortunate situation?  Your comments welcome.

Essential leadership lessons from the United Airlines public relations debacle

unitedlogoSo you’d have to be under a rock or in a dark cave some place to have missed the firestorm that is United Airlines which ignited sometime this past Sunday night.  After all, it’s not every day that an airline literally beats up its customer!  If you haven’t seen the video that accelerated into cyberspace (where have you been?), just Google it; you should find it within seconds.  There’s a lot of conversation about the circumstances leading up to this event, but one thing is clear.  United Airlines’ CEO, Oscar Munoz didn’t handle things well, and in today’s post, I’d like to focus on his apparent (lack of) leadership.  In this age of the Internet, there is example after example of the public relations nightmare that can fall out of a poorly-managed situation (heck, I remember the Papa John’s incident five years ago!), and unfortunately, United Airlines’ handling of this situation is destined to become a textbook case of how a leader should not act.  Let me give you a quick rundown, at least as of last night.

United Airline’s Mistake #1

When the videos of this regrettable event first hit the worldwide web late on Sunday night, Munoz issued a public statement on Monday, which went wrong from the very beginning.  His choice of words — “re-accommodate”, “inconvenienced” and “upsetting” — came across as tone-deaf in a situation that would have more aptly been described as terrible and horrible and shocking and distressing.

ua1

Source: View from the Wing

Blunder #2

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When you set people up to fail, the pain lasts longer than you might think

Last month I got pulled over by local law enforcement and was issued a $310 ticket and a summons to appear in court.  The ticket was legitimate; after all I was (unbeknownst to me) driving around town with an expired registration.  But the whole mess caused me to ask the question: Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?  My premise was that the province of Alberta made a unilateral change in its procedures earlier this year without notifying those who were directly affected.  And that’s a sure-fire recipe for setting people up to fail!  The change: vehicle owners would no longer receive a reminder that their registration was expiring; it was now their responsibility to track expiry dates and renew accordingly.  And, you might ask, how were people to become aware of this change?  The assumption was that people would find out through announcements in traditional and social media.  Unfortunately, and to my bad luck, I was traveling out of the country during the “media blitz” and was blissfully unaware of the change … until of course I got pulled over by one of the boys in blue.

So on July 20th I made my way down to the local provincial courthouse to do as the ticket had commanded – present myself to a Justice of the Peace to make my case, and if I was not successful, to pay the fine.  Simple, right?  Wrong.  When I arrived, there were approximately 75 people in line ahead of me, many of whom were there for exactly the same violation.  Continue reading

Are you (inadvertently) taking actions that set people up to fail?

Police_Giving_TicketSo I got pulled by a police officer the other day; and got a first-hand experience of what it takes to set people up to fail.  Turns out my vehicle registration had expired on April 30, and apparently I have been driving with expired plates for over six weeks.  Twenty minutes and a $310 fine later, I made my way to the vehicle registration office to renew the offending document.  Now you might ask why I was driving with an expired certificate (the officer did).  My answer – I didn’t know that it had expired!  You see, for the last more than 30 years, I have always received a notice in the mail a few weeks before the registration was due to expire, which was my reminder to make a visit to the renewals office.  This year though, there has been a change in procedures in the province of Alberta.  The applicable government agency made a decision in March of this year that effective April 1, they would no longer send out renewal notices via mail, a move designed to save the province (and taxpayers) roughly $3 million per year.  Instead, drivers are expected to go online and sign up for email notifications.  Hey, I’m all for saving money, but wouldn’t it have been more intelligent to send out one last notice in the mail advising people that the province was switching to email notifications only?  I get that email notifications are a more cost-effective solution, but how exactly was I supposed to know that I needed to sign up for this?  Making a unilateral change without a reasonable effort to advise those affected is inherently designed to set people up to fail! (See Are you guilty of setting your employees up to fail?)

Sure, the penalty is legitimate (I was driving with expired plates after all) and I’ll pay it.  Continue reading

Give people the tools they need to get the job done!

Dessert_SableLast weekend I attended a dinner with several colleagues at an upscale restaurant in downtown Chicago.  Because we were a large group of about a dozen people, our meeting planner had pre-arranged the menu with all the courses coming to the table “family-style”.  If you’re not familiar with this phrase, it simply means that instead of the meals being individually plated, they’re brought to the table in large serving bowls or platters and then passed around for everyone to help themselves … sort of like you might do at the family dinner table.  The food was not only delicious, but also beautifully presented.  In fact, you can see two of the desserts in the photo.

But there was one problem!  Continue reading

Don’t set people up to fail!

GreatByChoiceYesterday I had lunch with my professional colleague (and good friend) Nora, and we got to talking about excellent books we’ve recently read.  Great by Choice (written by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen) topped Nora’s list, and as she told me about the book, one sentence in particular caught my attention.

The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive

The authors make this statement as they explore what behaviours it takes for companies and organizations to thrive in chaotic and uncertain environments.  Obviously, it’s a response to the age-old adage “you polish your skills by doing it right, but you learn from making mistakes”.  Continue reading

Leadership lessons from the Papa Johns’ debacle

You might have already read about the public relations nightmare that Papa Johns, the international fast-food pizza chain, faced recently.  But if you haven’t …

Last Monday, on January 7, Minhee Cho stopped in to pick up a pizza at a Manhattan location of this chain.  The young cashier rang in the sale, and then typed in a description on the receipt to identify the customer.  The description – “lady chinky eyes”.  Ms. Cho, not surprisingly, was a tad bit offended and posted a picture of the receipt on her Twitter account with the following text: Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t “lady chinky eyes”.  Also not surprisingly, the photo went viral.  In fact, last I checked, it had been viewed 244,843 times.

Continue reading

Are you guilty of setting your employees up to fail?

How often have we asked our people to get a job done, but then not given them access to the optimal resources and equipment they need?

The American Chamber of Commerce in the Slovak Republic publishes Connection Magazine and I was invited to pen the opening message for the September/October issue focusing on human resources.  Read the entire article here.