THE BLOG
06/21/2013 11:44 am ET | Updated Aug 21, 2013

Drink What You've Dumped--Personal Responsibility in the Workplace

At a certain point in his inaugural address, President Obama called our attention to "a new era of responsibility." He was certainly in step with the times.

The world of how we work and where we work is whizzing with changes--internet, social media, economic factors and personal relationships offer opportunities to people who might otherwise have never had them.

Mere mom and pop operations catch a breeze and fly into a fully grown, viable entity faster than anyone expected. Great--except that the owner won't or can't adapt his ways and means to the changes around him--so much for vision and forward thinking.

Modernism has trickled down to the 9 to 5 workplace. "Do as I say, not as I do--I'm the boss" has been heard more times than a popular song on the radio. As Bob Dylan once sang, the times they are a-changing...in fact, they've changed.

Micromanagers are out, personal responsibility is in. Published in 2005 and written by Edward Cornish, Futuring: The Exploration of the Future explores this theme of modernization and the future:

The most important thing happening today is not reported...It's a global transformation of technology and society that is creating an age of hyper-change.

And hyper-change we did. Cornish makes other good futuring points:

  • Anyone can benefit from learning the skills and perspectives of today's global world.
  • Businesspeople can anticipate profitable new markets and innovative products.
  • Investors can get in on the ground floor of emerging industries and new technologies.
  • Mindful educators and parents can ensure that young people are properly prepared.
  • Well-armed students can plan out careers in highly rewarding professions.
  • People will find practical ways to guide their communities and organizations to a successful future.

Cornish also suggested that people and corporations open their eyes to the world of the future and prepare for the opportunities and risks ahead. He too was in step with current economic events, some years before they became a reality.

In her book, Thinking in the Future Tense, author Jennifer James says:

Many specialists now preach the gospel of worker empowerment. Empowerment increases energy. When workers...invest their energies in a personal process, the increase in productivity, quality, and efficiency is phenomenal.

The Future of Leadership

Time and again companies have seen the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace. The pettiness of office politics is frowned upon and waged war against by virtue of leadership and company policies.

A good example of this is INNFINITY. A provider of comprehensive management solutions, INNFINITY basis its internal management style on Scrum, an innovative approach to getting work done.

2013-06-06-Scrum_Framework_Flow2.jpg

"Scrum is an agile framework for completing complex projects", explains CEO Beverly McCabe. "We don't have the time or the inclination to gossip or finger-point. Each of our teams is responsible for and to the others and themselves. We have daily and weekly meetings, addressing needs, not blame. We hold each other accountable. And we've been highly successful as a result."

It's crucial to the survival of large and small corporations to drop the ancient mentality of the past and step up to the needs of today's world. Managers and employees must work together for a mutually respectful environment to the benefit of all concerned--not just the company itself.

Demands on people's time are greater than ever. What we think we've lost by relinquishing absolute control, we can replace with a spirit of building trust and achieving a level of success that accomplishes both financial and personal satisfaction for owners and employees. Everyone reaches their goals.

What can everyone do to achieve these standards?

Owners and Managers Can Lead Mindfully

  • Delegate responsibility
  • Be a mentor of sorts - develop your people's skills.
  • Give timely and well-considered feedback - not just negative criticism.
  • Invite feedback from your staff - ask them how you are handling your responsibilities.

Employees Can Support Mindfully

  • Actively communicate.
  • Talk to your direct manager - ask them to help you outline some concrete goals.
  • Accept responsibility for your mistakes - the days of passing the buck are over. Own it.
  • Connect with your manager or supervisor - if you don't have much in common, at least find out what they expect from you. Give it to them.

A few things to keep in mind

  1. Empowerment takes over where blame may have been present.
  2. You can't change everything at once, but you can effect changes in increments via setting positive examples and encouraging others to give it a shot.
  3. Admit to yourself that there are problems and that you are a part of them. This will at least offer the chance for you to consider ways to improve.
  4. Never consider communication about issues or problems as complaining - listen. Even if you disagree, you might learn something.

What can it hurt to be responsible? Personal responsibility is the willingness to both accept and meet the challenges set before us. It also means when we make mistakes, bad choices or do something stupid, we fess up and drink what we've dumped.

After all, isn't that what we usually want others to do?