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“It’ll Work Out” Plus 4 Other Lies People Tell

Have you worked with or for folks that like to use that saying?  I have too ... and in nearly every case it means this:  "someone else will actually do the work while I say it'll work out ... and I'll be proven right, again".

Here's the truth folks, it NEVER 'just works out'.  Not ever.  

Someone, somewhere is doing the work, pushing the buttons and slaying the dragon in order for another great pontificator to say:

"It'll Work Out!"

Next time someone tries that with you, wait until they are done beating their chest and then respond:  "how?"

You may come across as not very attentive or a naysayer but it will put the pseudo-manager in a position where they have to own the statement.

Don't be surprised if they next thing you hear is "uh, because YOU are going to do it, Ralph!" It may not be what you want to hear but at least a dose of authenticity will emerge where it didn't before.

Here are 4 other lies people tell that try to masquerade as competent management:

"I'm not going to kick the career ladder down behind me"

A noble gesture but usually false.

Succession planning is under-developed in nearly every organization I've worked with or studied.

On top of nearly every one of these organizations sits a cadre of comfortable, experienced manager-types that can't or won't envision a possible dip in productivity as a result of a) giving themselves a lesser role b) creating an environment that stimulates and rewards the growth of someone not as comfortable or experienced and 3) having fewer subordinates to stroke their ego.

So, what does the top of your organization look like?

"Your safety is my first priority"

Fewer pieces of malarkey have been spoken.  The intention is there I'm sure but the implementation is not.

World class organizations understand the balance between 'people' and 'process', and they are frequent communicators of how those two elements interact to make the organization successful.

And safety?   Well, that's your problem.  And my problem.  And every person's problem at the individual level.

The moment we start thinking that our company is going to save our cheeks from the fire because of a bad choice we made is one step closer to making that bad choice to begin with.

Manage your own risk and the environment immediately gets safer.

Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame has taken this mantra to task, and superbly so I might add.  

“Safety is never really first. No company, no nation, and no individual exist for the primary purpose of being safe. Sensible people understand that risk is a part of life, and that no amount of compliance will ever eliminate the inherent dangers that come from being alive. That’s not to say we should behave carelessly or live recklessly. We should always be prudent. But prudence and compliance are not the same thing, and we should look with deep suspicion upon self-proclaimed experts and professionals who tell us that safety is first, or worse, that ‘our safety is their responsibility.’” Those people are either selling something or running for office.”

Check out the full story here.

"That's the way we've always done it"

For sure, we hear that when things are stale and represent the status quo, but before that stale air-filled the room, there would have also been some failed starts and stops.  

So no, that is certainly NOT the way it's always been done.

Starbucks tried several types of coffee beans before they found the bean and the type of preparation that would cause the coffee drinking world to line up to pay $3.50 for a Cup o' Joe.  The reason why the status quo has become institutionalized is not because it is the only way the works but because the tolerance for risk and innovation has disappeared.

Hey, ever hear about the 5 monkeys?

"We have a plan" 

At some point, I'm sure that the manager was briefed on a plan, but that is usually a far cry from actually understanding the plan.

And that's assuming to begin with that the plan was an actual plan and not a hail-mary disguised as a plan.

Being a dutiful soldier by passing along information aka "the plan" is not the same as having the understanding themselves of what should happen and why.  And we shouldn't expect someone to be an advocate for a plan that they don't understand, right?

The lack of achievable, strategic objectives in many organizations is staggering.  

And whether they know it or not, saying that an achievable plan is in place when there isn't one relies more on hope, than an actual plan.  And therein lies the root of mediocrity.

If these lies people tell are told a matter of course in your organization, it might be time to bring someone in to knock off some of the barnacles.

Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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