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Hello. I’m Tony Mayo, the Business Owner’s Executive Coach … with one quick idea you can use in your business today.

There’s a common situation in business. Well, in life, when someone has been tasked to deliver something at a particular time –and it’s not ready. You’ve probably been in this situation many times. I’m sure you’ll be in it many times again. We’ll talk elsewhere about integrity, but for today, think about this, put yourself _in_ this situation.

You walk to the person’s desk, you ask for the report, and the person says, “It’s not ready.”

What’s your automatic, almost instinctive knee-jerk response? [Angry] “What happened?” Right? And, the employee starts to explain, or excuse, or describe what happened that prevented them from having it ready. And, like the helpful, hands-on manager that you are, you start to solve these problems for the employee.

But _think_ about this. When the two of you are talking about what happened, what time period are you dwelling in? It’s the past, right? Now, how much power do the two of you have over the past? [click] Zero. Why we talking about that? It does no good.

Here’s a better response: Go to the person’s desk, at the appointed time. Ask for the deliverable. If your employee or colleague says “It’s not ready.” You might say, “What are you going to do next?” or “When can you have it ready?”

Now, what time period are you talking about? The future, which is where we’re all going to live. Let’s plan a dynamic future, instead of rehashing the static past. Talking about the future naturally involves some planning, some detail, and also some restoration of trust.

[Chuckle] I don’t think employees are children. They’re adults. But, there’re some situations in parenting that bring out in sharp relief _basic_ human behavior that shows up in the office, as well as at home. In my house, it was a big milestone toward maturity when I trained my children to take responsibility for what they’d done –or, hadn’t done– by apologizing. The next step, even more powerful than apology, came after that apology, when I encouraged them to explain how they were going to do better next time. I want to be convinced by the child –or the employee– that I should believe this new deadline, this new promise. Tell me what you are going to do differently. Explain why I can rely on you now even more than I did before. Because after all, I don’t want my employees —or my children— to be sorry. I want them to be successful. Let’s talk about the future and describe specific steps that can be taken to make you more successful in that future. By working together to design and implement improved methods, our employee learns and grows, our children develop and mature.

Here’s the gist. Use today to learn from the past and —mostly— to prepare for tomorrow.

Thanks for listening to this podcast.

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