Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's your atta-boy moment?

Early in my career I saw a state colleague walk across the room during a meeting to whisper to a national staff person an error he saw in a report. It had a strong impact on me because I knew an option he had was to make a public comment in front of everyone -- but he didn't. Some on the committee would have enjoyed watching the staff squirm (and generated atta-boys) - but the guy finding the problem wasn't one of those people. Before the end of the meeting a corrected version was distributed and what could have been embarrassing was a non-issue. That was my colleague's atta-boy.

Now I read blogs. I wonder if there's thought to the whisper anymore. Imagine you're staff of a national association and someone has a concern. Is the right step to make sport of it online because it will generate engagement with the disenchanted, or is it to invite a private conversation?

Who do you want in the room when you make a mistake?

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Cindy, that is a fundamental point that needs to be made over and over again. Some people treat every "mistake" ever made as a personal affront. We are all human beings, and we all make mistakes or do things that we wish we'd done differently.

Never mind blogs; how often do people choose to respond to perceived affronts with emails that include CCs to the proverbial world? Email has fanned more flames (that could have easily been quenched with a simple "whisper") than any other form of communication. I've seen it happen time and again and it always makes me shake my head sadly.

One of the first things I learned when I first entered the association world was that the secret to getting your way is to assume that the people who disagree do so for the most honorable and well-intentioned of reasons. Assuming otherwise leads only to rancor and stalemate.

Unfortunately, there are still some people who would rather score a point than a victory. Thanks for yet another good post.