Championing The Cause
Are You Supporting The Efforts or Hindering Them?
By Manuel Palachuk
If you’ve ever had the strange feeling that the efforts your team is working for are not fully supported by everyone on the team or even management, it’s probably not unwarranted. All too often we have meetings where we discuss the path to success and then look around the room asking for buy-in, but once the meeting is over the follow-through just isn’t there. When this happens, the path to success is more of a forest covered in brush and all you have is a pocket knife. As the saying goes, good luck with that.
The worst case scenarios I’ve seen occurs when top-level management states they are willing to give the endeavor a try or see how it goes, fully intending to be a champion of the effort or plan, but in reality, they are in fact not. This is the worst because they are not only fooling themselves that they have bought in, but they are also either intentionally or unintentionally fooling their own team. Can you think of a better way to waste company resources than to be half-ass committed to an endeavor?
How can you tell if management is not really championing the idea? It’s actually pretty simple. Listen to what they say about the initiative and pay attention to their sentiment. There will be a noticeable negative sentiment in their words and reactions. They will question the validity and strength of the initiative openly as if questioning whether it should still be pursued. Sometimes they are subconsciously looking for support in their efforts to doom the endeavor. I’ve even seen managers and owners treat initiatives they personally brought to the team as if they were an undesirable stepchild.
If the top-level people are not championing the cause, it’s not going to go anywhere. If the owners and managers don’t believe in it, it’s going to die a horrible death. If you’re a manager or owner and you’re doing this, stop it now. Stop wasting your precious resources and everyone’s time. If you don’t buy in for whatever reason, or you’re just not willing to fully commit to a low probability of success endeavor, don’t pretend to. It’s like trying to train a pig to sing. It’s pointless and it just annoys the pig.
What is at risk for you as a manager, supervisor or owner is your integrity and the unrestricted support of your people. If they see you waffling over an initiative, they will assume it’s okay for them to do the same. They will not be able to recognize when you are fully and truly committed and when you are not. And their support for an initiative will mirror yours, or worse, they will simply not support anything until they are fully sure you are all in. By the time this happens, the initiative could very well fail under its own weight.
If you’re a team member, your role is much easier, believe it or not, assuming you’ve got the guts to speak up. If your supervisor, manager, or the owner is not portraying the ideal champion, ask them. Go ahead, ask them. “Tell me, boss, is this just the next thing you’re hoping will magically happen or are we supposed to get our shoulders up under it and support it? I’m asking because it seems that you don’t really give a sh!t.” Okay, so maybe you won’t say it quite like that, but you get the idea. One of my favorite rules of collaboration and teams is that you must be able to call anyone on anything, and that includes calling the boss on his or her support of an initiative.
At the end of the day, the organization shouldn’t be wasting time on things that don’t really matter and certainly not on things that even the top levels are not going to support. Focus on those things that will create success and support them wholeheartedly, and abandon the rest the minute it is no longer of value to the client or the organization.