Do you ever find it difficult to get your managers or employees to do the right thing? Does it aggravate or bewilder you that no matter what you do or say, some staff just don't seem to have good judgment or common sense?
One of the most helpful management concepts I have learned came from Stephen Covey's book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Covey speaks frequently about principles or natural laws that govern our lives. He furthermore emphasizes that all our actions have natural consequences. In other words, natural outcomes occur each time we do something, say something or fail to act. According to Covey, these natural outcomes will occur whether or not we want them to occur. They are like the law of gravity. Whether or not you believe in gravity, the outcome of jumping out of a 10-story building is indisputable.
Likewise, natural consequences will occur when you are rude or condescending to another person, when you fail to keep a promise, when you show up late for work, when you take the credit for someone else's work or idea, when you fail to meet predetermined objectives, and when you lie, cheat or steal.
When you teach your staff members to carefully consider the natural consequences for each of their actions, decisions or comments, magic happens and behaviors change. For example, the chronically late employee will realize that excuses won't make up for being late. The natural consequence of being repeatedly late is that others stop depending on you, and your perceived value declines. If your boss and coworkers believe you are not dependable, they will look to others for important assignments.
If you are a manager and you react to bad news in a defensive manner, a natural consequence is that those who report to you will no longer bring you news that may cause a negative reaction, which means important information may be withheld from you for fear you will “shoot the messenger.”
The natural consequences of failing to properly plan and prepare for an event are that important details may slip through the cracks and result in problems for members and clients.
Here is a list of common circumstances that you can use to illustrate the concept of natural consequences:
What are the likely consequences of taking a final exam without studying?
What would a loved one think if you continually failed to keep promises?
What happens to parents' trust when their teenager fails to arrive home prior to curfew?
What are the natural consequences of being disloyal to those who are absent from a conversation (essentially talking behind someone's back)?
What are the likely consequences of trying to run a marathon with little or no advanced training?
What happens to your boss's trust and confidence if you fail to deliver an important assignment on time?
What are the natural consequences of consistently making or missing a budget for your department or division?
What are the natural consequences of losing your cool during a crisis at your club?
What are the natural consequences of failing to prepare for accidents or emergencies at your club?
What are the natural consequences of failing to keep high-use areas of the club clean and sanitized?
What are the natural consequences of managers staying in their offices during the busiest traffic times at the club?
What are the natural consequences of playing favorites within your organization?
What are the natural consequences of treating another person in an undignified manner?
What are the natural consequences of failing to pay an employee or group of employees a fair and competitive wage for their services?
This list could go on and on, but you get the picture. If we, as owners and managers, train ourselves and our staff members to understand and embrace the natural consequences of our actions and behavior, the natural consequence would be that many daily aggravations may simply evaporate.
Herb Lipsman is president and CEO of The Health Club Co. (www.thehealthclubcompany.com), a firm specializing in consulting and management services for the design, development and operation of upscale sports clubs, fitness centers and spas.