Picture yourself, on the cusp of hitting your revenue goal for the year.  You’re almost there, and it all depends on the performance of your team over the next couple months.  You invested the money in recruiting the best people, offer a competitive product at a great value, and have executed the perfect marketing plan to bring in new business.  You can practically taste the celebratory champagne.

Then you get a call.  There was a delivery problem.  Not everything in an important order from your best customer arrived.  And worse, the products that did arrive had problems, and had to be returned.  That’s when you blow a gasket.  You’re looking to chop some heads off.  You’re going to find out exactly what happened.

You call a meeting with the account manager and fulfillment team, and you unload on them, “how could you two have let this happen?  If you can’t be relied on to serve our most important client, what are you good for?  I want to know exactly which one of you screwed up!”

Each team member immediately starts to blame the  other for the mishap.  As the conversation gets heated, you kick them out of your office and tell them to come back at 5pm with the facts and evidence of who blew it.  When they return at 5pm, you’re pleased to learn that it was a new employee at the client’s company that erred, not one of your team members.  What a relief!  No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong.  You managed to cause incredible stress for both team members, along with the people on their respective teams.  They spent the second half of the day accusing each other, and even their own team members, of screwing up the order.  What didn’t happen during that half of the day?  Anything that would add to your revenue over the next two months.  And then, even after they discovered the truth, there was an undercurrent of distrust between the account management and fulfillment teams.  After all, during the witch hunt, some of them got personal in their criticisms.

Now, you’re left with two departments that don’t like each other, and will only do the bare minimum to support each other.  Within the departments, people are now afraid of being thrown under the bus.  It’s not so fun to come to work anymore.  Trust has broken down.  Some start looking for jobs with better company cultures.  After all, with a 4.5% unemployment rate in North Texas, there are plenty of companies trying to poach great talent.  

And finally, everyone thinks you’re a complete ass.  You think all is OK, but no one respects you.  You’re perceived as selfish, impulsive, and unstable.  You lose some of your most valuable players, and you fall short on your revenue target.

Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.”

Next time, when an error has been made, think about your desired outcome before you open your mouth.  Keeping a cool head just might help you achieve your goals.

Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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