In our posts we have often written about things some of our employees have said, without thinking first. Or, maybe in some instances they didn’t think enough. One such utterance was this: “It’s obvious to you; you own the company…” said in defense of an employee’s mistake when she attempted to deflect blame from herself over some significant error. And, it was obvious to me that what she was doing was wrong. But, I do not think now, nor did I nearly 20 years ago when this happened, that it was obvious to me (only) because I owned the company. There was no debating that I own (or co-own) the company. There is no debate that I was this person’s boss. But, the issue in question is that whatever action the employee was undertaking was being done thoughtlessly and without consideration of how her actions would impact the company, our clients, or others. Which is the point of all of this. Whether one owns the company or not, taking “ownership” of one’s actions in the workplace includes considering how to proceed on one’s tasks or responsibilities as they impact the company, co-workers, the boss(es), and very importantly, the clients or customers. Nothing an employee does should be done in isolation and employees must realize it is not because I own the company that I want things done “right.” For their own success, employees should also want things to be done right – as if they owned the company. Regardless of who owns the stock, the employees who will do the best will be the ones who exhibit an ownership mentality.
A lot of things are obvious to me when they are not obvious to other people. There are several fundamental differences between many people and me. Most people spend too much time: (1) being self absorbed; (2) not paying attention to their surroundings; (3) using only one of their five senses, to the exclusion of others: (4) focusing on they way they wish things were, instead of focusing on the way things are, right here and right now; and (5) improperly applying rules of logical reasoning, including induction and deduction. Many of our clients marvel at my ability to predict what a mock jury or an actual jury will do, but, because I have spent most of my life as a keen observer of human nature, I often know what people are going to do, sometimes, before they know it themselves. (As an aside, I enjoy negotiating on real estate or automobiles because it is entertaining for me to predict what the people on the other side of the transaction will do.) When an employee makes an inane comment, such as “It’s obvious to you; you own the company,” my reply is usually “It’s obvious to me not because I own the company but because I pay attention to details, I take pride in my work, and I try to prevent mistakes instead of fixing them after they are made.” While I agree that most people will never have the skills, intellect, or desire to observe, interpret, and predict human behavior, the average person can take steps to improve his/her observational skills, thus making many things come to light to the point they are obvious. In contrast, a self absorbed “It’s all about me” viewpoint is a sure way to go through life being surprised when things don’t work out as planned. It’s obvious!