Consequence Management

One of the most important aspects of successful management is ensuring the people or team you manage understand the consequences of their actions.

People tend to have an innate desire to want to please, to want to achieve, to want recognition and to receive praise. As a manager it is therefore important to spell out to people what it is they need to do to achieve the above. If you analyse the role an individual has to perform there is a process they need to follow in order to achieve the desired result/outcome. If they understand this process and the steps they need to take they are far more likely to end up at the desired destination. The consequences of them doing this will therefore be positive.

However, they also need guidelines on what the consequences are if they don’t follow the correct process. Many years ago I sold double glazing and our office wasn’t doing too well. I was going into work each day half expecting the branch manager to call me into his office to fire me, results were that bad. One day during this spell we received a visit from the MD of the company who got us in a meeting and told us how disappointed he was in results. He announced that he would be coming back to see us in two weeks to review progress. He told us that on that morning in two weeks time he wanted us to think as we were about to get out of bed; “have I sold two orders in the last weeks?”. If the answer was yes, he wanted us to come to the office where he would be very pleased to see us. If the answer was no, we could have a lie in as we no longer had a job.

Having this spelt out so clearly to me had a truly liberating effect on me, as I now knew exactly where I stood and what was expected of me. In the next two days I went out and sold 3 orders. What had changed? There was no longer any uncertainty about my position. I wasn’t taught any new skills, but the meeting had enabled me to focus on the task in hand, as the future was now clear. I had specific consequences and I could influence the outcome through my actions.

Do your people know exactly what is expected of them and what the subsequent consequences are?

To help  illustrate the point here is a clip from the Untouchables, where Sean Connery is testing Kevin Costner on his understanding of exactly what he will need to do to achieve his desired goal.

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