What you permit you promote

What you allow, you encourage. What you condone, you own.

This phrase was mentioned recently with regard to leadership. I don’t think that this should be solely levelled at leaders. I think this is something that anyone at any level should look to.

If you see a damaged piece of equipment is it solely the responsibility of the leader to fix it? They may well have the responsibility to get it fixed, or purchase a new one, but if staff on the shop floor keep walking past it “oh yeah, that’s been broken for ages” without either reporting it or removing it, then surely they are complicit in any accident that may occur later on if someone tries to use it. The same if something is untidy or a behaviour is unacceptable. If anyone allows it to continue without addressing it, at a commensurate level of responsibility, then they are promoting, allowing or condoning.

As a leader though, you can be quite constrained about how to deal with an issue. Policies and procedures may require certain levels of challenge. Start with an informal conversation to address a behavioural problem, set some improvement objectives, revise them. If after a period of time there is no improvement, escalate to a more formal stage, then repeat the objectives and review. Then, if there’s still no improvement, escalate again and so on. Sometimes there may be 4 stages before anything final is resolved. All of that takes time and of course may have to be kept confidential. That means the rest of the team may think that nothing is being done about it.

For replacing equipment it might be an easier process, but again it has to go through several layers of authorisation before an actual order is placed. That takes time and it looks like nothing is being resolved.

Bring that back to something like parenting. I remember saying to my daughter, when she had books, toys and other stuff strewn across the floor “move it or lose it”. If she hadn’t tidied up within an agreed time frame, I would scoop it all up and put it in the bin. And I mean the outside bin, not a waste paper basket or the kitchen bin.

Mostly with my daughter you only had to tell her once, or on the rare occasion of following through, I did actually put her school work in the outside bin. She threw a wobbly and had to fish it out. But next time I asked her to tidy up “move it or lose it”, she did as asked.

I think as parents, or leaders, shop floor folk, or even family members or friends, it is something that we should all adhere to this mantra, in any situation, walk of life, relationship. If you permit the bad things to happen, you are promoting them as acceptable and the norm.


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