By Dr. G Michael Durst

Commitments consist of taking total responsibility for producing results.

The Management by Responsibility system is based on making and keeping commitments. Commitments are made to produce results. These results may be tangible or intangible, easy or difficult, and or even satisfactory or unsatisfactory. They’re, nonetheless, results.

Many firms think they have an MBO (Management by Objectives) program when they actually have an MBW program. At the end of the year, the manager, playing persecutor, says, “But you stated your objective was to deliver three new systems and you’ve only delivered one!”. The staff member replies, “Well, I wish I could have …”. The manager also wishes that the three systems had been produce. That’s MBW: Management By Wishes!

Commitments consist of taking total responsibility for producing results, rather than ‘wishing’ and ‘hoping’ that everything will turn out as planned. The only real question is, “Are you willing to do what is necessary to produce the result?”. If the answer is not a definite, affirmative response, then the proposed objective is a wish, not a commitment or goal.

Commitment is a top-down, bottom-up process.

MBR training is based on one law of human dynamics. “The purpose of a manager is to serve others. “Serving others” does not mean “helping” the staff do their work or ‘rescuing’ them when they don’t. It means aiding their growth to the point where they can make commitments to the common purpose of the work unit – and keep them. To do this, the manager needs to create an environment that supports success rather than creating failure.

Work environments that support success have certain features in common. The manager clearly establishes a direction and common purpose for the work unit. Then the manager works with staff members to establish specific goals and objectives which are necessary to accomplish the purpose of the work unit. Both the objectives and performance expectations are clearly communicated to all concerned. Individual members of the staff commit to doing their part in meeting the objectives. The manager remarks on what the staff does right as consistently as what they do wrong.

In upcoming blog posts, we will discuss the skills involved in creating such an environment: goal setting, delegation, getting commitment and providing feedback. For now, let’s look at the process as a whole. It starts with an attitude: the skills develop from there. A Responsible manager makes a habit of asking:

  • “Am I serving myself and everyone involved?”.
  • “Are my actions going to create harmony or distance?”

Or to put it in another way, a Responsible manager never plays a ‘zero-sum game – “When I win, you lose” – or lets the staff play it. Either the work unit wins, or it loses. The manager has to commit to forging that unit to create success.

This necessity is particularly noticeable when managers and staff disagree on a particular decision. It is the responsibility of the staff members to state as objectively as possible, why they do not agree. Yet, if the final decision goes contrary to staff opinion, it remains the responsibility of the staff to carry out management decisions as completely as possible so as not to undermine the unit’s efforts.

Results do not lie.

Effective team functioning depends on mutual self-interest. No matter how clearly the manger states the common purpose of the work unit and the performance objectives involved, if the individual staff members don’t see what’s in if for them, the likelihood of getting results is slim. The Responsible manager plans for a ‘win-win’ game and communicates that fact.

The point of involving the staff in setting goals and objectives is to get their commitment to producing the desired results. If the results are not forthcoming, the individual involved did not take total responsibility (and perhaps never intended to) or did not perceive a personal benefit in producing the result. Life is RESULTS or B.S. (Belief Systems-of course!). You either produce the result on time, as agreed, or you produce the B.S  as to why you haven’t. RESULTS DON’T LIE.

Corporations, like individuals, either produce results or produce excuses. When the results don’t occur, the mind automatically produces the ‘reason’ why not. It produces ‘justifications’, pleads for ‘reasonable expectations’, stands on the ‘rightness’ of its conduct to date-and ends up blaming other people, circumstances, and/or events. All these responses to not producing results as agreed bring people down to the lower levels of maturity.

The level of satisfaction you experience is directly proportional to the extent that you keep your commitments to yourself and to others. Job satisfaction depends on your willingness to make commitments and then produce the results. Staff members who attempt to do less get less satisfaction from what they do. Whenever a goal of the work unit is accomplished, everybody involved assumed 100 percent responsibility, even if some of the parties did most of the work.

If you liked this blog post, please forward it to someone you know who will benefit from this.

Dr. G Michael Durst is the founder and president of Responsible Life Foundation. He has presented training and development programs for the American Management Association, International Training System, The National Association of State Trainers, and the American Society for Training and name but a few.  Durst, who holds a doctorate from Loyola University, Chicago, has written several articles and books, including “Management by Responsibility”.
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