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Its my fault - Alan Berg CSP, Wedding Business Solutions PodcastIt’s my fault!

When things don’t go as planned (and we know that happens, a lot) how quick are you to look to blame someone, or something else? I believe that if we want to take the credit for our successes, we need to also take responsibility for our failures, even when we didn’t cause them. When things happen on your watch, they’re your responsibility to make right.

Listen to this new, 12-minute episode for some of my thoughts on taking blame, not finding blame.

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– It’s my fault. Take a listen to this episode. See where I’m going with this one. 


Hi, it’s Alan Berg. Welcome back to another episode of the Wedding Business Solutions Podcast. I touched on this in in another recent episode about responsibility and authority. And one thing I’ve found in my life and have found in my business is there are people, a lot of people that don’t want to take responsibility when something goes wrong. And I get it. You know, you’re afraid of what the consequences are, but what I’ve found is that most of the time, taking responsibility is actually better than trying to push it off on someone else or to say, hey, it wasn’t my fault. And there you go. 


And the reason is, I think, that if you want to take responsibility and take the credit for when things go well, you have to be willing to take responsibility when things go poorly and be quick to say, yeah, that was the decision I made. Didn’t go the way we’re supposed to go. Let’s fix it, right? And I think it makes things better than trying to push it off on other people. And eventually maybe you find out or people find out it was your fault and then it’s worse because you were trying to shirk the responsibility or worse, push it off onto somebody else.


 And I remember one time it was a tech support issue. Now I’m pretty good with computers and technology, so if I call tech support, it’s usually because I’ve gone through all of the regular stuff you’re supposed to try to do that they’re going to tell you did you do this, this, this, and this? And I’m going to say, yes, I did. And I remember calling one time and saying, “Hey listen, this is what’s happening. Here’s what I did, this, this and this. I pushed this button or I changed this thing and I think I screwed it up. Can you help me?” And the person on the other end was, you could just see this smile on their face through the phone. And they’re like, “Thank you for owning up to that.” I said, “Listen, I screwed it up. I know I screwed it up. I just don’t know how to fix it. Can you help me?” And they said, “So many people call up and say, oh, I don’t know what happened and all. And meanwhile, you know, they spilled their coffee on the keyboard or whatever it is.” 


So taking responsibility when things go wrong, you know, are you going to get fired for it? If you’re the boss, you’re not going to get fired for it. Is the customer going to get upset? What people want, and I’ll talk about this in a future episode, listening to a great book where it’s talking about customer service and what people really want. And what they want when things go wrong is they just want it to be right. And I remember one time when I was a VP of sales and something had gone wrong and I was copied on, CC’d on this email string. And normally when I’m CC’d, I don’t respond ’cause they didn’t send it to me, they just want me to know about it. It’s going back and forth and people are trying to figure out what went wrong. And I just had to jump in. And I said, “Has anybody contacted the customer and told them that we’re working on this?” And they came back and they said, “Well, we’re trying to figure out what happened.” I said, “That’s not what I asked. Has anybody told the customer that we’re working on it?” Because lack of transparency means they think we’re doing nothing when we actually are trying to fix it, but they don’t know that. 


So we want transparency, which is one of the most important things in life in business, is just being transparent. And one of those parts of transparency to me is being able to say, I screwed up. Yep, it was me. Mea culpa. I did it. I remember sending out an email one time that did not land well. I thought it was just being, you know, cute and playing upon something. And it came back and people were extremely offended. Not a lot of people, but a few people were extremely offended. And I did an immediate mea culpa. I did not know. I did not intend. To me, I never thought about it the way that they were seeing it. When I saw that it wasn’t one person. ‘Cause if, you know, listen somebody can get upset about just about anything. 


But when it was a few people, I’m like, oh, then there’s more people that aren’t telling me I need to go out and do the mea culpa. And it quickly died down and it had not been an issue. After a few days, that was it. It was done. It was fine. And when customers call up and say, “Hey, this happened or whatever.” I immediately like, yeah, you know what, that was my fault. And it was also my responsibility when I was higher up on an org chart to say, when a customer contacted me, “Hey, listen, I’m sorry this happened to you.” You know, I personally didn’t make that happen, but that’s not the point. Happened to my watch. And if it happened on my watch, it is my responsibility and now it’s my responsibility to make it right. 


You make a stronger customer relation when you don’t try to shirk what happened when you take responsibility and then also take responsibility for making it right. The thing I mentioned on a recent episode was, if you’re going to give your team, people on your team, whether they’re employees or whether they’re virtual employees, like I have a virtual assistant. If you’re going to give them the responsibility for getting things done, you also need to give them the authority to do the things they need to do to get that done. 


I’ve seen way too often people who say, “Okay, I need you to get this done.” But then they can’t do the things they need to do. They can’t make the decisions without going back to that that boss or that employer or whoever it is to get those decisions made. Now, if you trust someone to get those results you have to give ’em the authority. And if they screw up, you have to look at what they did. And you have to say, “Listen, I know you had the best intentions. Didn’t come out the way that it was supposed to. You know what? Next time, we’re going to do it this way.” 


There’s a famous story about Mr. Westinghouse. So Westinghouse Electric in the early 1900s, there was some big project they were doing and somebody made a decision and it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars and it’s a lot of money today, but it was a lot of money 100 years ago. And somebody said, “Well, you fired them, right?” And Mr. Westinghouse said, “No, I just paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their education.” Right? There was a great quote. I use it in one of my presentations. William Greenblatt I think is who is attributed to. He said, “I’ve never made a bad decision I’ve just had bad results.” 


And that’s the key. Making a decision. Another book that I had mentioned recently where they talked about there were errors of omission and errors of commission. And an error of omission is you don’t get the desired result because you didn’t make that decision. You chose not to do that. So if you chose, you know, not to buy that ad you don’t get the ROI from that. And an error of commission is you made the decision and now you are on the hook for the results of that. And people, they don’t want to make a decision. This was in the book, “The Jolt Effect” J-O-L-T, “The Jolt Effect.” And people are, they know that you’re a good fit but they won’t make the decision. They won’t choose to do it because they don’t want to be on the hook if it doesn’t go the way that they want. They’re afraid of being responsible. And that comes back to exactly what this is about. I’m okay with being responsible. I’m okay with owning the results, good or bad, because I don’t think again that I should own the good results if I’m not willing to own the bad results. If I’m not willing to say that went into the toilet and that was my fault, right? 


But now let’s just make it right, as opposed to trying to hide from it. And then it just makes it worse. You know, it’s like lying about lying. It’s just keeps making it worse and worse and worse and worse. 


So what do you do when things go badly? Do you look to point the finger or do you first look to make it right? And then say, you know what? Sometimes I need to look in the mirror and find out where the problem is. Sometimes I need to point the finger at myself and say it was me. Or I gave bad guidance, I gave bad instructions I did not give the authority to that person. I gave the responsibility, and therefore I didn’t get the result I want because it was my fault. When I was leading a sales team I would never contact the salesperson and say, you know, your numbers stink. And the reason is, if they didn’t know that their numbers were bad, I have a bigger problem, because you get the same report that I do. And if you don’t know your numbers aren’t making it we have a bigger problem. And what I would say is, I know you’re capable of doing this. 


That’s why I put you in that seat. What do you not have from me? What are you missing? What can I give you that’s going to help you get to where I know you can be? That’s the way I would manage my salespeople, instead of berating them for not hitting their numbers. Again, they knew it. I knew it. If it wasn’t getting done, it wasn’t getting done. So how do you react in that situation? Are you blaming the other person or are you saying you know what, did I not give you enough instruction? Have I not given you enough direction? Have I not given you the tools that you need to get where I need you to be? 


And let’s face it, there are times when somebody is in the wrong position. You put the right person in the right seat, you get the job done. Sometimes you put the wrong person in the seat and they don’t get the job done. That’s also your fault for putting them there. We always say that, you know, salespeople don’t always make good managers because that salesperson can manage themselves but can they manage other people who don’t work the way that they do? Who don’t work on a schedule like they do? Who don’t operate, who aren’t motivated, by the same things that you are? You know, you might be motivated by money, but they’re not. ‘Cause after a certain point, not everybody is motivated by money. You know, once they’re able to pay their bills and maybe save some money and, you know, more money isn’t the motivator. Maybe it’s more time off as a motivator. That was the case with one of my clients recently. You know, one of their people was performing really well, but feeling burnt out and she didn’t want more money. She wanted time off, right? And find a way to do that. They get re-energized, they come back, they’re excited. But giving them more money doesn’t give them what they really need, what they really want. 


So responsibility, authority, they need to go together and you need to start with yourself. ‘Cause if you’re not willing to admit that you screwed up, anybody on your team is not going to do it either because you’re setting that example. So no matter where you are in the org chart, whether you’re at the top of it or in the middle of it or at the bottom of it, set the example by if things go wrong, admit it, work hard to make it right as quickly as you can. That’s what customers want. And you can actually make a stronger customer relationship when something goes wrong that you fix quickly than if you don’t take responsibility for the fact that it went wrong in the first place. Some of my best friends in the wedding and event industry are people that called me to complain about something when I was a sales director or a VP of sales. We talked about it, I listened. That’s what most people want right away is, are you listening to me? Did you hear what I said? Did you hear what I mean? Asked them what I needed to do to make it right. If that was reasonable, we did it. If not, we talked about it, but we handled it quickly, responded quickly, took responsibility. Even though, again, it happened on my watch. Even though I didn’t make that mistake it happened on my watch means it’s my responsibility. 


So how do you act when that is? Just think about it. Think about some situations and maybe they would go better if you’re willing to accept that responsibility when it goes wrong and own up to it and then just make it right and then your team could do the same. 


Hope it gives you something to think about. 



I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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