‘I Must Have Told Them a Thousand Times’

I am sure many of you are tired of seeing and reading this quote.  You know it’s part of the collection with these high sounding concepts: Perseverance, Perspiration, and Commitment. Not sure putting pictures up around your office walls makes people more motivated.

My favorite is the parody motivation series:


If a pretty picture and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you,  you probably have a very

easy job; the kind robots will be doing soon.

But I do want to give this quote the credit it deserves because I believe that it cuts to the core of being a good manager.  It’s the essence of managing: the essence of coaching. I also think it captures our business dynamics where we offer our customers ‘Software-as-a-Service’ with small monthly payments, versus ‘Client Server’ model where a big investment has to be made up front.

The title of the blog captures the words of a lament that I hear from managers and coaches over the years.

If your people or your players are doing the same thing (making the same mistakes over and over again), then YOU are probably the problem.

The challenge for most managers and coaches is getting past all the ‘saying’ that they do. And according to the Franklin quote, even if you are ‘modeling the behavior’ you are still only half way to changing behavior. The recipe for change…is INVOLVEMENT. The learner has to be an active participant in the process. I characterize our ‘Software as a Service’ model as something we do WITH our customers…not TO our customers.

I believe that the biggest failure in Leadership is ‘Saying One Thing, while Doing Another’. It’s akin to ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. As a manager/coach you should model the very things you would like to see from others. And its even better if you can model the behavior WITH them.

Reminds me of one software company I worked for where the staff all took a 10% reduction in pay, then the executives gave themselves year-end bonus’ on the savings and profitability of the business. That particular ‘move’ should have been up on the wall in some quote. Something like:

Management Hypocrisy

The art of getting people to sacrifice their paycheck…so you don’t have to

But even if, even if you can SHOW someone what to do, they will only remember, not have learned it. They remember, yes, but cannot translate that into action.

And this is one of the toughest things to do for a manager/coach because it means handing over the reins, showing the humility of giving control over to someone else. And here is the really tough part. It usually means that you have to make a trade-off – you have to be willing to give up some of the short term benefit so you can realize a longer term gain.

As a young sales manager at Procter & Gamble I had to be willing to let a sale ‘go south’ on occasion…losing out on selling some product or display, so that the salesperson would learn from their experience – their mistake – hopeful that the learning they had gained and can be translated into better actions on the next hundreds of sales calls that they will do without me in the future

For you folks that run a trucking company, it’s the moment you decided to let others do the dispatching, drive the trucks, or do your invoicing…after you have shown them how to do it…and after you have let them have their hand in it.

So please read this blog and try to remember this. I must have written on this stuff a thousand times and…oops.



Leave a Reply