Do Your Job: Avoid The Domino Effect

How long has it been since you experienced this: Someone on your team didn’t do their job correctly, completely, or in a timely fashion. Because of that person’s failure to do the job they’re being paid to do (or the “job” they’ve volunteered to do) you and others on the team are now scrambling to do your parts to ensure the final product or service to your customer appears professional, smooth, and of your expected high standards. If you’re like most people and most organizations, that situation or one very similar probably happened to you at least once within the past week or two – right?

What’s equally frustrating is this person has done this before and still doesn’t understand why others get so edgy. Everything turns out OK in the end. The customer is happy, so why all the tension?

The tension stems from one seemingly small repeated behavior. By just one person not doing his or her part correctly, in a timely fashion, or completely, a cascading domino effect of confusion, frustration, added costs, and additional hurried meetings, ensues for everyone else on the team. Peer respect starts to take a sharp turn downward.

Why? One person is creating more work for everyone else. All of that negativity because one team member simply – and often innocently – fails to realize the importance of the work they do. They fail to realize how their role impacts others and any lapse in their complete fulfillment of their job causes more work for one or more team members. Their failure may also cause a negative impact for the customer. However, when a customer is negatively impacted – they understand why the customer is frustrated. They just don’t seem to understand or appreciate why their peers and team members get so edgy when there was no negative customer impact. Why all the tension?

The tension escalates when team members are repeatedly treated with little to no respect for their time, their pressures, their responsibilities, or their basic work pattern preferences. The tension escalates because one team member has determined to unilaterally adjust everyone’s schedules and priorities — and usually without communicating it ahead of time. The tension escalates because one team member didn’t do his or her job — and the domino effect ensured.

So, how do you as a leader handle this? You do your job: you hold every team member accountable to do the jobs they’re being paid to do. When they don’t and there’s a negative impact for the customers or for other team members, you resolve the issue. Serve the customer. Serve the team members. Review the process to determine what caused the domino effect. Learn from it. Clarify for the team member, his or her critical role, that role’s interplay with all the other team members and the customers, as well as why it’s important it doesn’t happen again. However, if it happens twice, there’s a trend starting. Don’t wait for a third time. Hold the team member accountable. Reiterate the process and the role the team member and everyone else plays. Provide enhanced training and support if appropriate. And if all else fails, do your job and change team members.

Your team and your customers will appreciate it. Besides, your team has better things to do than to pay dominoes.

© 2009 – 2015, Liz Weber. All rights reserved.

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