Taking Full Responsibility

Our Family Run Business
July 20, 2016
Who’s to Blame?
November 8, 2016
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11I remember having several conversations with a business owner that I know.  He would go on and on about how hard it was to find good employees. He would complain that they were lazy, didn’t do the job well, couldn’t answer the customer’s questions, or that they simply “didn’t get it.”  While listening to his ongoing condemnation of his staffers, I couldn’t help but think that they all had one thing in common…he had hired them.  Rather than complaining, I thought that perhaps he should stop, take a broader view of the situation, and take full responsibility for his hiring decisions.

The Blame Game

Many people prefer delegating blame, or looking for one of a myriad of possible excuses for their own mistakes, miscalculations or shortcomings, or those made by their team. After all, taking full responsibility means being strong enough to show vulnerability and acknowledge that something is amiss. Yet it is what top managers and leaders do and why they generate positive relationships and results.

It’s also interesting how owning up to what you’ve done, and making amends, can generate the respect of other people. One CEO tells the story of taking on major oil companies as clients and assuring them that his company could convert thousands of pages of data into a much easier format. However, when the project ended up being far more complex, and took over a year to complete, the clients were clearly unhappy.  At this point the CEO stepped up and took full responsibility for their miscalculations. For a year the CEO and his team worked tirelessly to win back the trust of the oil companies. In the end, the clients were so impressed that when it came time for them to renew their contract, they not only renewed, but made the length of the agreement longer than the industry standard. It happened because the CEO stood up, took responsibly and was determined to win over his clients.

Making the Best out of a Bad Situation

Sometime, however, circumstances are totally out of your control. For example, we had a situation where local streets around us were shut down for several hours. This meant that our 9 a.m. appointment was delayed until 1:15 p.m.  The client called; she was very angry and gave me an earful. I just listened, knowing that didn’t want excuses and that if I was in her position, l would have been angry too.

Two and a half hours later, the job was done, and she was happy with the results. I returned with two dozen roses and she loosened up. I told her that I took full responsibility, it was our fault and if there was anything else we could do for her to please let us know. In the end she was smiling and has remained a loyal customer.

It would be nice if everything went as planned, but that’s not how life works. Sometimes things happen and you have no control over them, in other instances you have control but don’t see the error of your ways, as was the case with the employer who didn’t realize that he had complete control over the people he was hiring.

If you are the captain, the manager, the business owner, or the simply the person in charge, you need to understand the difference between hiding behind excuses and being a real leader, one that takes responsibly no matter what. I’ve always tried to do that in our business, not just because people respect me more but because I respect myself more.


Joe Kelemer

Kelemer Brothers Replacement Windows

Serving the Baltimore and Washington area

Call us at 410-299-0038

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