Blame yourself

February 10, 2014

Marty Grunder

Frequently I hear leaders saying things like, “My employees never do what I want them do,” “I have to do everything myself if I want it done right,” or my personal favorite, “I don’t know what else I need to do to get my team to understand what we need to be doing around here.”

Do you know who we can blame for these situations? It’s the person reading this column, that’s who! Yes, you. That’s the answer the first time something like this happens.

There are three reasons that our people don’t do what we want and need them to do. 1. They were not properly trained, educated or equipped to do the job. 2. They don’t have the capacity to do the job you need them to do. 3. They have a bad attitude. These three reasons are a funnel in which you should run every situation through that doesn’t go well at your company.

If you don’t like the results you got from a member of your team, the first thing you have to ask yourself is, “Did I properly train them to do that? Did they receive the education they needed from us to do what we needed them to do? Were they properly equipped to do the job?” 

If in any way, shape, or form, you have to answer NO to these questions, then you have to take the blame for what happened. Why is that?

How can you expect to ever make improvements if you are looking for someone else to blame and how will you ever improve if you keep throwing people out there doing things they haven’t been properly educated, trained for, and equipped to perform? 

If someone didn’t do what you wanted and needed them to do and you can’t honestly say part of the reason for them not performing well isn’t lack of training, then go give them the proper training and tell them what you expect the next time. Have them learn from the mistake.

Sometimes the best teacher of all is committing a mistake. If you did properly train, educate, and equip them to perform and you don’t like the results, the next thing you have to look at is: do they have the capacity to do what you want and need them to do?

I see lots of landscapers who put people in positions they can’t handle. I see it often in sales. We make our top sales professional our sales manager and wonder why they can’t do that job well.

Just because someone can sell doesn’t mean they can teach and manage others to do the same. Just because someone was a good team leader doesn’t mean they can be the production manager and, my personal favorite, just because someone has the same last name as yours doesn’t mean they deserve to be promoted.

I’m an old baseball player. Many times I saw our coach put a right fielder at shortstop and rarely did that go well.

Why? Because the skills it takes to succeed in right field don’t always translate to shortstop. Business is the same way. So, if you don’t like the results you are getting and it’s not because they can’t do the job (they do it right once in a while), then we go on to the last point to look at in your funnel and that’s attitude.

The most dangerous and toxic people in our small businesses are smart people with a bad attitude. Why? Your team respects someone who knows how to run the excavator well. Your team respects someone who has a degree in horticulture from Auburn University.

Your team respects someone who is an Ohio Certified Nursery Technician. That respect means your team will listen and might follow these types. For example, if you allow one of these smart types with a bad attitude to consistently be late for work, what are you telling everyone else they can do?

As hard as it is, if someone isn’t doing what you want and need them to do and you’re training them well and they are capable of doing the work but they have a bad attitude, they need to go. You will never grow nor reach your potential by having people with bad attitudes on your team.

Bad attitudes are contagious; they affect your entire team. A team full of people with good attitudes has a positive culture. And if you have a positive, good, healthy culture, a lot of the right things will be achieved naturally.

I have seen this time and time again, as my friend Joe Calloway says, “Culture drives results.” It sure does and you’ll never have a good culture until you get the bad attitudes out of your operation.

Next time you have someone go sideways in your company, use my funnel. It has helped me take emotion out of the problem and show me what I need to do to fix the problem. Talk to you next month.


Marty Grunder is a speaker, consultant and author; he owns Grunder Landscaping Co. See; mail