Everyone wants to have responsibility, but who wants to take it?

“Just do your job!”

4G-feedback+UKDo you recognize that? When the right or even no choices are not made at key moments. Until then, it’s clear who is in charge. Sometimes that person has also let us know several times. But at the moment suprême, that same responsible person is silent. Or is questioning everything all over again. Whether or not packaged as “challenge” or being involved.

And everyone accepts this. There’s no one who says, “now it’s enough.” So where is that person responsible for the project? Is it the project leader? Is it the project owner? The sponsor? I’m saying it wrong. Where’s the one who takes responsibility? Who’s going to make the decisions?

I know I’ve already approved it, but I’ve thought about it again and I want it differently.

What’s the reason we’re going to accept all this en masse? Where does this apathy come from? That go-with-the-flow behaviour. I miss the entrepreneurial spirit of getting things done.

This includes a form of action and therefore also addressing each other for mistakes or omissions. Far too little I come across this in projects. As an introduction, a project is described as innovative and top of the bill, but when I see the people busy then it is dull and tame. The workspace of the project team – where it should be buzzing and sizzle – is more like the reading room in a library. Where is that ambition of the people, which they say they have but oh hide so well? It seems like there’s a thought “don’t make it too difficult for me, I won’t do it to you either.”

Of course, there are teams that try to work differently. They go for LEAN, ADKAR or …. And yes, at first glance you will see a difference with the reading room. But if you listen carefully, you will notice that fulfilling agreements is not self-evident. How is that possible? Are the calendars too full? Is it difficult to prioritise? Or is it in people’s attitudes? Probably something of the above. 

When it comes to fulfilling agreements, then getting there on time is also such an appointment. Some of us deal with that a little loosely. Others are very strict about that. However, being late can have several causes. This is also the conclusion of Diana DeLonzor (2002) in her book “Never be late again”. It distinguishes 7 different types of latecomers. Although most latecomers will recognize themselves in more than one category.

1. The Deadliner
Kicks to finish things only last minute and feels really focused when he’s in a hurry. Needs pressure to perform.

2. The Rationalizer
Finds it difficult to admit his chronic tardiness and therefore always seeks excuses that are beyond himself.

3. The Hedonist
Prefers not to make sacrifices and especially thinks that life should remain fun. Chooses for immediate enjoyment rather than long-term results.

4. The producer
Often want to get as much done as possible in as short a time as possible and constantly underestimate how much time a particular task will take. He hates wasting time and suffers from occupation syndrome.

5. The rebel
Does not like to always be in line and (occasionally) lacks the many standards of society. Being late is a way of controlling him.

6. The absent-minded professor
Gets distracted quickly and is rather forgetful. His environment often says that he lives in his own little world.

7. The Indulger
Often feels anxious and restless. Rather has a bad self-image and therefore needs certain routines. It’s just scary to arrive somewhere alone and therefore prefers to be late.

If we allow the example of late arriving to be exemplary for the fulfilment of agreements, then the previous types also apply.

What type is “in control” on the project?

If we take being too late as an example in case of the project leader, the project manager or the program manager, it is predictable how the project team will be managed. But not only the project team, but also the forces around it. There are always people trying to get their cases in the spotlight with the project staff. This is going to distract them from their project work. Project members also sometimes have other work in addition to the project. Of course, this is also very distracting. It is up to the team members whether they are distracted by other matters. But it is up to the project manager to act against this. If your team members lose too much focus on outside failures, you need to assist them. You have to support them in daring and be able to say “no.” If your team members don’t deliver, you address them accordingly. This is an important role as responsible for the project. But also vice versa, when a project “boss” does not take his or her responsibility, then the other members have to tell him this. In a team, you are addressed to your behaviour, and you speak to behaviour. 

I can’t give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: Try to please everybody all the time.
Herbert Bayard Swope

And that’s tricky. Few organizations have a culture of addressing each other on behaviour. Of course, there is somewhere in a powerpoint or other presentation that this is done within the organization, but that does not guarantee that it is also actually done. It is not these words that make it the same. This is about culture. If you as an organization are convinced that this is the culture that suits your organization, then you have to work on it. Not with an occasional newsletter or some posters in the elevator. But with a cultural program. 

Although I have a slight allergy to the word “program”. I see a lot of programs that have evolved into a juggernaut full of bureaucracy and rules. Where correctly scoring and registering has become more important than the origin of the subject. 

But it is in the concept of a program that you need to nurture a culture in an organization. Pay attention to what you want to stand for with each other. Ensure recognition and pride in what you want to achieve with each other. An important part of this is to speak to each other about behaviour. Give feedback to each other. And that’s harder than you think. Still, there is a nice way to give good feedback. I’d like to briefly highlight this one. We also train these with customers. In addition, we notice that it is a good and easy way to give feedback. Also, it helps the speaker and the addressee to describe or understand the message clearly and completely. This allows you to focus on the behaviour and consequences.

We like to use the BCFD-feedback. This feedback method, which the founder of us is unknown to, helps to build feedback in steps where the feedback becomes more and more difficult, without a conversation escalating. You can build your feedback, separately per section or combined with multiple sections together.

  • Behaviour: “It strikes me that…, I see you…, I notice that you…, I hear you say…” 
  • Consequence: “What you do trigger in me…, The effect of your behaviour on me is…” 
  • Feeling: “I notice that I …, I find it difficult to…, “What I see happening is…”
  • Desired: “I’m assuming that from now on…., Would you from now on… “

Giving feedback is necessary to make (each other) stronger. I’ll assume that it’s obvious that it’s going to happen in the right way. A lot of people find it very difficult to give feedback. They beat around the bush, or they try to avoid it.

CEO’s, managers or other staff should be able to provide good feedback. That is an essential part of their function. With the right feedback, you clearly indicate what you see, in behaviour. Which you think should be the result. What this behaviour does (with you). And what do you think what should be the (desired) behaviour. You address to someone about his or her behaviour and not on the person. You have to address it, clear and to the point. Don’t try to find the middle of the road or try to have the cake and eat it.

In successful teams, it’s normal, a habit, to confront each other. After all, together you have a common goal. With this ambition, it is your responsibility to give feedback in a respectful but clear way. Over and over again. For us, feedback has no hierarchy. Which certainly does not mean that everyone can and should always express their opinion. With good agreements, it is clear who is responsible for what. But what you are responsible for, you have to give your vision in an appropriate time and manner. 

What you’re not responsible for, you don’t give your opinion unsolicited. If you do, you are in the process of undermining the project or the process. Consciously or not. Often not consciously and from a sense of commitment. This energy is worth gold for the organization, but only comes into its own after proper training. If you don’t train these forces, they become unguided projectiles that can do a lot of damage.

Make a start is building feedback by giving a compliment. Do this with the BCFD-feedback. Remember? 1. Behaviour, 2. Consequence, 3. Feeling and 4. Desired. 

What a soft stuff!

When discussing a change plan with a client, we sometimes hear that addressing each other in our way is “soft stuff”.  Often these are the somewhat conservative managers. They still come from a management era where hierarchy was an important element. Now the successful companies are much flatter in terms of structure but with a division of roles. These roles, including within a project, include responsibilities. And those responsibilities must be taken. This regardless of the place in the organization. 

In the training “Roles, responsibilities and feedback” we often get the reaction that people initially expected it to be soft. During and after training, that’s completely gone. Moreover, in my book it is still possible to simply tell people who interfere in everything, who want to have a say or their opinion that they should go to work. I too used the phrase on projects: “Just do your job”. Both against the opinions-waterfalls, and against those responsible.


© 2021 Essentiedenkers


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