It’s not an answer, just a lame excuse.
You know those comments “I don’t know about that…” or “I was never told…”? do they sound familiar? Is it as frustrating for you as it is for us? It can of course always happen that you don’t know something, but very often it’s a wonderful excuse. Because the attention is not placed on the “ignorant”, but the focus goes all the way to the one who should give the information. “I don’t know” or all variants of this are an excellent lightning rod.
A lightning rod? Hmm, distract from what? The truth is that “not knowing” is often the result of negligence or complacency. It is easier to feign ignorance than to make an effort to stay informed. It’s an escape, a way to evade responsibility and shift the blame onto others. But wait! Shouldn’t we be asking a completely different question? Instead of asking why someone doesn’t know, we shouldn’t ask, “How come you don’t know? Someone in your position should know something like that. What’s wrong with your job of getting this information when needed?” So it is not just those who “don’t know” that we must hold accountable. Even ourselves! We tolerate this type of behaviour. Hold people accountable for their responsibility. Many people would like to have a responsible position. That gives status and prestige. But taking responsibility is something completely different.
We reward people for their princely and princess behaviour and relieve them of their responsibility to stay informed.
The truth is that we (yes, sometimes we too) have become too lenient in our approach to accountability. We reward people for their princely and princess behaviour and relieve them of their responsibility to stay informed. It’s time to change that narrative and empower ourselves to overcome the “not knowing” phenomenon. A team member, leader or manager who all too easily “doesn’t know” causes damage. Damage to team relations. Damage to the connections. But above all damage to confidence.
Why do not knowing and trust have something to do with each other? Imagine a puzzle with missing pieces. The picture remains incomplete until all the pieces are in place. Similarly, in any organization or team, information is like puzzle pieces that must come together to form a complete picture. But when someone claims not to know, it is like a missing piece that leaves a gap, creating confusion and hindering progress. On the other hand, when you are (pro)active, after all, proactivity is asked of everyone in the organization, you actively look for the missing puzzle pieces. You don’t wait for it to be handed to you, but you take the initiative yourself. Why? Simply because you have to do this in order to move forward. To be able to do your job.
When you play in a football, basketball or, for example, hockey team, you always try to free yourself and to remain alert that you can be played. Imagine that on your football team every time you are played, you do nothing. And your reaction is “I didn’t know I was going to be played”. How long will you be on the team, you think?
As members of the team, we must take ownership of the information we need to do our job effectively. It is not enough to rely only on what is given to us. We must proactively seek information, ask questions and stay abreast of relevant developments. We are on a mission to put the whole picture in perspective, so we must be curious and persistent in uncovering the facts.
Of course, information also comes to us. But we should not be satisfied with just that flow. Take the initiative to gather information from reliable sources, whether through research, meetings or conversations with colleagues. By being proactive, you not only strengthen yourself, but you also contribute to the collective knowledge of your team or organization. Communication is key to bridging knowledge gaps. If you are not sure about anything, do not hesitate to seek clarification from the appropriate sources. Never assume that someone else will take care of it. Be assertive and persistent in getting the information you need. Remember that effective communication is a two-way street and it is your responsibility to ensure that you send and receive information correctly. Knowledge is constantly evolving. To stay relevant and excel in your role, you need to embrace a learning mindset. Be open to new ideas, seek feedback and constantly update your knowledge and skills. Like a skilled craftsman who constantly sharpens his tools, a continuous learning mindset equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate the ever-changing landscape of your job.
Responsibility starts with you. Take your responsibilities and obligations. Don’t make excuses and don’t put the blame on others. Be proactive in seeking information, communicating effectively and taking responsibility for your role. If you make a mistake or are unsure about something, acknowledge it, learn from it, and take steps to rectify it. By holding yourself accountable, you set a positive example for others to follow.
Knowledge is power, but only when shared. Stimulate a culture of knowledge sharing within your team or organization.
Knowledge is power, but only when shared. Stimulate a culture of knowledge sharing within your team or organization. Create channels for open communication, collaboration and information sharing. Recognise and value individuals who actively contribute to the team’s collective knowledge and success. When everyone is encouraged to stay informed and share their expertise, “not knowing” becomes a rarity. Take the stance that “not knowing” is never an option! It’s time to break free from the shackles of complacency and embrace a culture of responsibility and proactivity. Take ownership of the information you need, be proactive in seeking it out, communicate effectively, embrace a learning mindset, hold yourself accountable, and nurture a culture of knowledge sharing. That’s an attitude you have to teach yourself. Sometimes you can do that yourself. It is often better to ask for help. Like a skilled adventurer navigating uncharted territories armed with knowledge and curiosity, you empower yourself and your team to overcome the phenomenon of “not knowing.” Remember that knowledge is power, and by staying informed and taking responsibility for your role, you will excel at your job and contribute to the success of your team or organization. So, are you ready to unleash the power of belief and conquer “not-knowing”? The choice is yours.
Have a great day!
Are you ready to make a change in your organization? Our exploratory strategic sessions can provide you and your team with the opportunities and solutions to transform your organization. Contact us today to learn more about our 9 Building Blocks for Connection model and how we can help you make that change.
More about group dynamics and change in
the blocks (chapters) “to communicate” and “to visualize” in our book Cement (in Dutch)
Edwin is not just a visionary expressed through his longreads, but also adept at conveying his ideas through presentations and real-world client interactions. He is a lover of Scandinavia and that's noticeable. Through an array of examples and metaphors, his infectious enthusiasm becomes a catalyst for inspiring, motivating, and fostering connections among individuals. Collaborating closely with his wife and partner, Mirjam, Edwin leads individuals through periods of change. Their shared mission revolves around forging impactful connections – connections that ignite leadership inspiration, foster team cohesion, and catalyze organizational transformation.
Cement describes the indispensable element of well-functioning teams: connection. While keeping a close eye on the 9 essential building blocks.
These 9 Building Blocks for Connection, in fact, form the basis of every challenge. And it's precisely the combination of the cement with the blocks that has a positive effect on organizations.
An audiobook of it will be accessible in English starting from the autumn of 2023.
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