It was the best of times, it was the worst… Oops. It’s calls, not cities. Unlike Dickens’ Tale, this one is true.
Recently, I conducted two coaching calls that couldn’t be more different—best and worst. The first call was from a manager who was of the opinion that the partners’ expectations of him were beyond reasonable. He said he spent so much time cleaning up their messes, training staff who couldn’t get it and taking on so many different jobs, that serving clients and meeting his goals took a hit. How was he supposed to do all that and still succeed? While he may have faced adversarial conditions, it sounded like a bit of a tale.
My second call was the complete opposite. This manager lamented her performance the past year. She seemed to be genuinely disappointed in how she did. She didn’t need a partner to explain how she had underperformed. She knew it herself and she didn’t like it. But unlike my first call, she refused to be the victim.
• She could have blamed it on the fact that she didn’t have the greatest clients to work with. It was true.
• She could have acknowledged that she had very few staff to work with, and barely capable. It was true.
• She could have suggested that her partners were remiss in setting her up to succeed in a couple of other ways. It was true.
But instead, she said, “I didn’t perform my best this past year.” WHAT!? Did she really say that? Holy smokes. Someone took responsibility for herself and her performance, even in the midst of adversity. Unbelievable. And a better tale.
It was clear to me that, this time next year, only one of those calls will be significantly different and the other will be essentially the same. The reason is that the situation isn’t going to adjust to the liking of the manager. It’s the manager who will have to adjust to the situation. Firm leaders are much more considerate to adjust for people who assume responsibility.
This week, don’t settle for your situation to determine your performance. Commit to do what is necessary to succeed. Earn the understanding of your leaders to find better ways to succeed.