The Delusion of Being Self-Accountable

Accountability

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This is another blog on our company values (from our 10 ATBs), a series underscoring a more modern look at value driven organizations.

Story: I personally know about six people right now, who for one reason or another, are looking for work. Even though the economies in the U.S. and Canada are relatively good, and unemployment is quite low, these talented people are having a hard time landing their next job/careers. And to a tee, they have all experienced one very frustrating thing about the process. People do NOT get back after interviews with the courtesy of a “NO,” at minimum, let alone feedback. This is usually after the interviewer makes a commitment like, “I will get back to you by Tuesday next week.” Tuesday comes along, and crickets. The interviewee not wanting to appear too anxious, just waits. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. By The following Tuesday, the interviewees feel compelled to leave texts, emails or social media DMs for the interviewer. After all, for each person, this is an urgent matter. And guess what? They typically never get any response. How disrespectful! And how come the value of being self-accountable within the interviewer has gone so seriously missing?

Key Point: Why do people describe themselves as very self-accountable, yet if you watch their behavior, the value is inconsistently applied? I think it’s because people end up confusing wanting to be a certain way, versus actually being. True self-accountable people are imperfect, like all of us. However, these folks consistently display the following behaviors:

  1. Take responsibility for both making and meeting their personal commitments.
  2. First question asked relative to the way things are is, “what can I do about it?”
  3. Never spend time blaming others, or themselves, for situations; they are serious, serial learners.
  4. Take action in an urgent and timely way on things that deeply matter.
  5. When missing a commitment, authentically own it; sincerely apologize and learn from it.

Obviously in the example above, there is some serious self-accountability of the hiring manager missing. Please call those unsuccessful interviewees today!

At ATB, one of our 10 ATBs is to be personally and fiercely accountable! It is my favorite.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Give serious thought before personally committing. Your self-accountability value is too important to put it at risk if you miss.
  2. Make the trend your friend on the other behaviors defined in the steps above. Be fierce about behaving this way.
  3. If you are an interviewer, for goodness sake, be self-accountable and personally call back those “no’s” in a timely, courteous way. Ideally, give them personal feedback so the interviewee might grow.

Always learning to be more self-accountable,

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” lessons that people know they should improve, but it’s just so easy not to. This type of self-accountability takes discipline, courage, the confrontation of discomfort, and more. On paper, most hiring managers probably believe they have this quality. But just like a detail on a resume or cover letter they might be rejecting, self-accountability is a credential many list, but may not be practicing consistently. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Think and Be BIG!

Accountability

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See the previous entries for the continuing series on values in modern companies, by using ATB Financial’s 10 ATBs as a reference.

Story: The seventh leadership principle of “The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company” is:

Think Big. Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Inspirational leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for new and better ways.

Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. This very intentional, BIG thinking and aspirational purpose was declared early at Amazon. And holy cow, it has been something to see it come into fruition. It’s important to have big dreams for your future, both personally and as an organization. If you can’t think big about your future, you’re not going to have a very BIG outcome. Big, of course, means a dream that takes you WAY further than where you are today. So much of this is a mindset. The following is an expert from an Inc. interview with the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos:

“…‘What does your heart say?’

And for me, the best way to think about it was to project myself forward to age 80 and say, ‘Look, when I’m 80 years old, I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have.’ I don’t want to be 80 years old and in a quiet moment of reflection, thinking back over my life, and cataloguing a bunch of major regrets.

In most cases our biggest regrets turn out to be acts of omission. It’s paths not taken and they haunt us. We wonder what would have happened. I knew that when I’m 80, I would never regret trying this thing (quitting a good job to start Amazon) that I was super excited about and it failing.

If it failed, fine. I would be very proud of the fact when I’m 80 that I tried. And I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try. And so that would be a regret, it would be 100 percent chance of regret if I didn’t try and basically a 0 percent chance of regret if I tried and failed. That’s a useful metric for any important life decision.’”

Key Point: Be fearless and think Big. If it’s in your heart, and you can clearly visualize it, you likely can make huge progress in that direction. Why think small or settle for slightly better than sameness? Really, when you totally settle in, with the understanding that we have a very short life overall, why not not try to be remarkable or extraordinary? Think friggin’ Big! Be BIG! And as Bezos notes, there is basically a zero percent chance of regret if you try and fail.

At ATB, “Think Big and Make it Happen”, is one of our 10 ATBs. We hate sameness or trying to be just 10 percent better. And we detest being slaves to benchmarking. Our experience is that it often limits one’s ability to truly reimagine and reinvent!

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Read The Magic of Thinking Big. The book has been around for a while, has sold millions of copies, and is still timely. 
  2. Regardless of where you’re at in your career, think BIG, start small, and begin now. You will become BIG.

BIG in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Sometimes we Millennials need to take a deep breath and look around. We constantly evaluate different success levels of our peers, friends, family members, and others. It’s often easier to “think current,” or “think realistically,” because that’s safer. But, what really separates you from thinking Big enough to become Big? Why can’t you too? Truthfully, it is a mindset, and a tough one. But if you start by breaking down the barriers that prevent you from thinking Big, maybe that’s the biggest thing you can do. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

The Spirit of GSD!

Accountability

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This is another blog on our company values (from our 10 ATBs), a series underscoring a more modern look at value driven organizations.

Story: Getting Sh*t Done/Getting Stuff Done. Urban Dictionary defines GSD this way: “When you’re through with complaining about all the work you have and you just plow through it because it needs to happen. Can occur as a day, a certain block of time, a week, etc.” More importantly, some companies have embraced this behavior as a constant state of being for competitive advantage.

The successful Silicon Valley based cloud company, Box, is known for its ability to get sh*t done (or GSD). At Box, every laptop screen saver flashes this three letter call to action. Posters, t-shirts, and other communication vehicles also exhort this rallying cry. Their CEO, Aaron Levie, notes what this value means to Box: “One competitive advantage is the speed at which you can achieve. You cannot achieve by doing nothing. You cannot achieve by only talking about what you are going to do one day. You must get sh*t done. And you must surround yourself with other people who get sh*t done. We have done this by promoting an execution-oriented culture at Box. It’s a dynamic culture built on doing and improving. At Box we get shit done. And we do it well.”

Key Point: At our company, we have declared the value of: Find a Way to Get Things Done (although we have also informally abbreviated it to GSD). Too often, people talk a good story, are deft at describing issues, complain about stuff, etc. They fail to act. This way of thinking has the unfortunate outcome of less than desirable urgency, and little when it comes to real innovation. One piece of evidence is when pain causing problems to employees or customers remain unchanged year after year. In this case, one has to seriously question whether a culture really embraces GSD. Frequently, organizations can become literally complacent and even lazy. If things have not materially improved this year over last, I doubt if you’re serious about GSD.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Measure the value you bring each day by the impact you’ve had, rather than just the amount of activity you’ve undertaken.
  2. Connect and continue activity to the extent you get desired results. When you do that, you can really execute; more desirable activity leads to more desirable results. Many times, people just measure activity and describe how “busy” they are, and forget to answer if it really led to sustainable results. This is NOT GSD.
  3. GSD! (Which doesn’t mean you can just be a whirlwind without using good judgment). Be known as someone who really gets stuff done.

GSD in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I had the opportunity to actually grow up attending the same high school as Aaron Levie, and a couple other key players at Box. Whether it was an impressive magic display at a middle school talent show, or literally directing and premiering his own full feature movie as a high schooler, Aaron has always GSD’d. That’s just him. That said, it can always be learned, practiced and implemented by all. 

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Crush Dumbass Rules & Make Them Work for People!

Accountability Personal leadership

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This is the second value in the current 10 ATBs Series.

Story: When I check in at a hotel I regularly stay at, they ALWAYS make me sign the same stupid paperwork that says I won’t smoke in a room (and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t care about). And even though I work for a very successful public company, and pay with a corporate credit card, they take a deposit in excess of my room rate. Our bank, to be fair and brutally honest, also has some dumbass rules. As an example, we are only allowed to email transfer a certain amount of funds per day, even when we have plenty of OUR money in our bank account. To pay an invoice more than $3K, we have to do it over several days. How annoying is that to us and the payee? And who are these rules for? Well, certainly not the customer or service employees. Nope… They are primarily to protect the company.

Key Point: So the the second value in our company (obviously not totally implemented yet, based on the example above ) is to Make Banking Work FOR People. You can exchange the word “banking” for your business. Often times, organizations have a bunch of processes that are there for the organization’s risk-management, NOT for the people who deliver them, or customers who receive them. They have often been designed to prevent the company from being ripped off. So what do companies do to reduce economic pain inflicted by a few? Well, they decide to mitigate by creating a rule (often a goofy one) for ALL? When you ask why or confront the rule/process, the unsatisfactory response is, “that’s just the way we do it.” Or the infamous, “it’s company policy.”

Confront every process and rule by looking through the eyes of people who have to execute, and customers that receive it. When people insist that it must be done a certain way, and you know it sucks, get the data. That will inform you. Push back relentlessly, and design differently.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Look at everything you do through the eyes of people who deliver it and customers who receive it. What is that experience like?
  2. Genuinely ask whether the company really has to do it that way?
  3. Be a maverick and break dumb rules, (except those that are legal or compliance requirements). People will applaud, and you will get ahead.
  4. Remember you are a designer. Every process or rule tells you how really people/ customer focused you are. I bet you people can easily name 10 dumbass rules/processes.

Working for People in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: How about regularly re-writing and designing the top-rated “goofiest” rules in your company. Legal can inform you if they can’t be changed due to laws. Other top-rated stupid rules get replaced every month? Or I dunno, maybe that sounds like a dumbass rule. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Let’s Take a Walk Together

Accountability

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Story: “Mr. Rubis, we are so happy to see you again. Thank you for returning to our hotel. We know you’re likely too busy to fully utilize our loyalty program, so we have taken the liberty of moving you to a suite before your upgrade certificates expire this week. And I want to remind you that you’ve earned a spa, complimentary bottle of Cristal, and a 50 percent discount from our fine dining room. Would you like any of these amenities during your stay? By the way, if you like to use Uber or Lyft, the best door to connect is the west one. My understanding is that you’re checking out on Friday morning. If you are going to the airport, we have a limo service that’s the same price as a taxi. Could I book that for you? I also want to remind you that CNN is on channel 21 (they know I mostly watch this), and the Top 5 Zagat-rated restaurants within a five minute walk are on this list. Please let us know if we might make a reservation.”

Now, I’m fortunate enough to stay regularly at a five star hotel, and NONE of the above happens. It’s a made up story. They think “WOW” is an occasional room upgrade, (which I appreciate), but based on the data they have on me, it’s a vanilla experience.

Key Point: We can WOW customers. It’s not that hard, but very few companies do so. I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling lately, and I’ve been more intentionally observing how often I’m truly WOW’d as a customer. Every day, from the moment I get up, to the time my head hits the pillow, there are WOW moment opportunities… Yet, I rarely experience them. When I enter any commercial experience, I generously give the service provider the full opportunity to make my day. On the contrary, I often get agitated by the experience. Here is just ONE thing every company can do: Greet the customer like you actually care, and want them to enjoy your offering.

Recently at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, I bought a breakfast bowl from a merchant. Ok, I know this is a minimum wage job, but honest-to-goodness, this employee actually made me wonder if the food was safe. If a WestJet pilot wasn’t in front of me, I’d have bailed. Is it that hard to smile at a customer and make them feel welcome? And why get mad if you ask for extra guacamole?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Just start by focusing on the greeting process in your company; in person and/or digital. How do you constantly and consistently WOW your customers at that moment? I bet you don’t know. If you are unsure, you likely suck at it and/or hope you’ve got consistently great people at every intersection (I doubt it). Start there, and you will probably have an edge on your competition.
  2. Take a virtual walk with me through your day, looking for WOW opportunities. What will you learn?

Just a little WOW in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I’m lucky enough to live a “yes ma’am, yes sir, no ma’am, no sir” culture, and while that might seem like a mundane detail, it’s shockingly noticeable. The ingrained hospitality and politeness is so pleasant on a customer service level, you truly do leave a grocery store (or anywhere, really), with cordial encounter after cordial encounter. Now, we Millennials aren’t generally expecting bottles of Cristal or a limo service, but the positive energy from the simplicity of a good attitude is at least a W. (Then, the other O and W will build from there). 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis