Are you and your work team or family soldiering in the same direction? Do you sometimes feel frustrated because your team, spouse, children do not seem to see things the way you do? You need them to work harder, spend less, change certain behaviors but they do not seem to get it. And when they do, they seem to do it grudgingly. They think you are a bad boss, stingy spouse or autocratic parent.

This reminds me of my role as a junior staff; data entry. When I reported in that organization, my orientation took less than 15 minutes. I walked to HR’s office who then walked me to my boss’s office. My boss immediately walked me to his boss office. He mentioned my name and qualification. He then handed me over to a colleague to take me through what was expected of my role.

The cubicle was very small, we could barely fit an extra seat. I stood next to my new colleague. She had already logged in and started her work. She picked a document and took me through the data entry process. By the time she was done with the third document I could already tell the flow. She logged in to another machine and allocated me some work to continue.

For the next 3 weeks I logged in with her password and ‘churned the papers’; like the senior boss would call it. Despite several nudges to my boss, I could not get a password or desk top allocated (I think he was busy with other things). Until one day I walked to the IT managers office and requested for the same. We had weekly standing meetings and all that was said were the data entry numbers; Who had entered more data, how much back log there was and who made more data entry errors. When competition became too tough some resulted to hiding documents to avoid ‘looking bad’.

Looking back no one took me through the company mission,values, strategy, departmental objectives/targets or tried to explain why we did what we did. We were all a group of robots entering data. Data we could not synthesize beyond face value, explain why it mattered or better still why we and what we did mattered. Thinking of it now I did not have a job description either. Just a target number in my head shared somewhere on E mail by colleagues.

This was until I accidentally attended a managers’ meeting, where discussions went beyond the number of papers. I got to understand the impact of the number of papers churned on operational cost and the effect of data entry errors to the company profit. I also got to understand that what we did significantly contributed to lowering or increasing company costs.

Why was this crucial information not shared with us? Many at times we underestimate the level of understanding of the people we work or live with. We assume a lower cadre staff, or your children do not understand company strategy or family objectives and struggles.

What is easier, shouting at the cleaner to clean better or telling them that you are seeking to increase customer satisfaction and ISO certification and what she does and how she does it contributes to your meeting that objective. Many at times we choose the former, Why? Maybe because its easier, bossy or we assume the cleaner is not capable of understanding the big words and numbers. Until everyone in the team understands why they do what they do; their role remains to be just another robotic move to earn, pay bills or meet personal needs and wants.

A parent shared with me how he struggled to make the family stick to lower expenses without complaining. After conflicts with children on shopping and pocket money, he decided to make one of the kids the family accountant. The family ran two retail businesses. She would keep the accounts on check; check daily revenue, expenses, ensure the businesses were restocked and account for debts. As school resumed, she would have all the numbers. She would then go through the school fees statements, shopping lists and pocket money requirements and prioritize based on available money. She also appraised the other family members on major upcoming projects like family construction and the expenses going with it. That was the end of arguments on money matters in his home. Everyone became accountable, volunteered to reduce expenses and felt respected.

Is your team or family aware of the vision or goals that you are trying to achieve. Do they know how what they do or not do contribute or affect those goals? Do they see the goal as a win-win for all or are they grudgingly complying and cutting corners just to look good? If they know why they are expected to do it, they will find better ways of doing with little or no push. They will be more innovative and compliant. They will give you less headaches and more support.

Like soldiers going to war, they need to understand the enemy, the mission, the strategy and their individual roles in line with the strategy for them to soldier on.

If they know why then they will know how and where there is no involvement, there is no commitment.

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