When I sat down in my car recently, the snap at the waist of my pants popped open. Fortunately, I was by myself and saved the embarrassment of anyone else noticing.
I assumed the pants needed to stretch a little since I just pulled them from the dryer… until I realized these pants have made plenty of trips through the dryer and never caused this problem before. So I assumed I should get some new pants since these make me look fat… until I looked down at my waistline and realized “looking fat” wasn’t the problem either.
The problem was more straightforward than that.
My stomach was larger than it used to be and the failure of that snap was just a symptom. Frankly, the snap deserved an award for lasting as long as it did. The only real solution was for me to make some changes in my own behavior, starting with cutting down on my milkshake intake, which incidentally was my motivation for being in the car in the first place.
So now I had a choice to make: pick up my friends as originally planned and drive to Kustard Korner to get that delicious self-satisfying giant milkshake or do something else.
I often run into people with the same Blame-the-Pants problem I have.
Once I met with a team of leaders because someone suggested we discuss their company’s retention problem. During our conversation, the chair of the team dominated the talking space, often interrupting and talking over other members of the team. At one point, I redirected the conversation, asking someone to finish a thought that had been interrupted by the chair. The chair responded by mentally checking out of the meeting and spending the next 20 minutes absorbed in his tablet.
He eventually closed the meeting by announcing they didn’t have a retention problem. They just had a young 20-something team of employees who didn’t yet know how to handle pressure. Whenever the company was up against a deadline or there was a glitch in their product that slowed down production, he expected to lose a few people.
What This Story Means
Changing this team’s product won’t solve their problem anymore than buying new pants would have solved mine. Low rates of retention are a symptom that something else is wrong in the culture. In this case, it’s certainly related to the chair’s domineering then dismissive way of communicating and to the leadership team's willingness to put up with that behavior.
The only way to a solve problem is to accurately define the situation, own your contribution to the problem and make helpful changes.
Here’s how that might look for my Blame-the-Pants problem.
And here's how it might look for the chair of that team.
Talk about It
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