The Electrifying Subtle Shift

“So, it turns out that the ten percent reject rate was caused by a burr on a threaded plastic part. Your inspection system failed to sample a new vendor at a higher rate and their sub-standard parts were co-mingled with good parts from your current vendor?” I nodded.

“That’s about it,” Byron agreed.

“And, yet, you yelled at your team for not working hard enough, until you discovered the defective parts?”

“I did,” Byron fessed up.

“Yet, your team was doing their very best already.”

“I know, but we were still getting the ten percent reject rate. I had to do something,” Byron protested, again denying responsibility.

“Don’t get defensive, this is important. You had a ten percent reject rate and you responded in two ways, one effective and one not.

  • You yelled at your team (not effective).
  • You inspected your system, ultimately focusing on receiving inspection, and sample rates of inspection (effective).

And where did you find the problem?”

Byron understood half the problem. “It was only when we looked at the system,” he said.

“And the other half of the problem is this. Your team is only accountable for full commitment and doing their best. When you yelled at them, you were holding them accountable for the ten percent reject rate. As the manager, you can ONLY hold them accountable for doing their best. It is you, as the manager, who is accountable for the output of the team.

“You solved the problem only when you examined your own contribution to the problem. As the manager, you are accountable for the system. It was a system problem.

“What did you accomplish by yelling at your team, holding them accountable for output?” I challenged.

“The only thing it did,” Byron admitted, “was to crush the team. I think I described it as down in the dumps.”

“And, what did you accomplish when you examined your system? You solved the problem. This subtle shift in accountability is electrifying. The team is accountable for full commitment and doing their best. It is the manager accountable for the output.”

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