Broken Branches

By Mark Inboden

My poor trees! This weekend’s recent snow really did some damage to my four large crabapple trees. I lost three or four branches on each tree. The rest of the trees in my yard were relatively unscathed. There is still clean up to do, but I made several observations that I think apply to  management, as much as the trees in our yard.

Bend, but Not Break - I think I have always had this as my mantra when it came to my workload.  (Although just because it works for me, it doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone else.) I do believe that leaders have a higher pain threshold than others in their organization, but they also must recognize when others' “branches" are overloaded, and are about to break.

Broken Branches - Sometimes, things just break. You are going to make mistakes; we are all human. When people make mistakes, I think the best approach is this: Take both ownership for your mistake, and ownership for fixing it. I remember learning from one of my mentors that if I made a mistake, the expectation was that I would bring it to their attention, and tell them how I was going to fix it. This approach shows you care.

Trimming the Dead Wood - Everyone needs to “trim the dead wood” out of their work from time to time. Be consistent in building a maintenance program into your workday to address any “little problems” that can slowly grow into larger ones, without routine maintenance.

Plant a New Tree - Sometimes as leaders, as hard as we try, we can’t fix a “broken tree." Maybe the person isn’t correct for the job they are in, or things have changed in the industry, and they haven’t. We can try and try to save a “failing tree” in our organization, but our “rational” skills need to be called upon more than our “emotional” skills in doing what is right for the employee, and for the health of those thriving in the organization.

This week, take a look around at your “yard” at work. The spring is a good time to “prune” so you can enjoy what the summer has to bring.

Mark is President and CEO of UCEC. 


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