Monday, April 4, 2011

Choices, Part 1 - Ever Make A Bad One?

I've made plenty of choices over the years.  Quite frankly some of them were pretty bad.  Actually, some were downright awful.  Like this one...

I needed to change a holiday pay practice and was attempting to get the buy-in from the rest of the senior leadership team.  We only came to consensus at the very last minute.  Instead of taking into consideration that we were on top of the holiday, I forced the change through anyway.  Yes, the company saved some money, but the negative fallout hurt both the organization and me.  I felt terrible afterward.

Big Picture
I take pride in forcing myself to see the big picture.  I consider myself a strategy-guy.  Making bad choices with respect to these high level problems is unacceptable. But I've made them, and that drives me nuts.  I don't want to let any organization that I work for down.  I certainly don't want to let myself down either. The big picture must rule the day.

Working Through It
I hated my decision.  I hated the phone calls, emails, voice mails, and hallway comments about  the decision.  It was all on me, and I didn't like any of it.  But there was nowhere to hide.  I had to simply endure it.  I had to endure me.  

But I learned.  I learned to be more strategic...I learned to be more thorough...I learned to be...better.

How About You
Have you ever made a choice that you regret?  What did you do about it?  Did you step up, acknowledge the blunder, and fix it?  Or, did you stay quiet...shamefully quiet...and hope the moment slipped away before anyone noticed?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy oEJ Lockhart


  1. Hi Jay - that's a good bad choice (if you know what I mean?).

    Here's a goof up I made that I'm not proud of and I learned from. I was asked to create a business to business sales experiment for Dixons (electrical retailers) in Central London. As part of this I needed to recruit three people to form a sales team plus an administrator. I found an extremely capable administrator and two guys who I thought would make great sales people. I was very comfortable with these three appointments. I couldn’t decide who would fill the fourth seat on this team. I came under some pressure to make a decision and with the worry that if I didn’t fill the post it may get withdrawn, I chose the best of the rest.

    Big mistake. This guy wasn’t as good as the others, nowhere near. I won’t bore you with the details but I sacked him a few weeks later. I felt terrible because I had tried to fit a square peg into a round hole. It was my fault for recruiting him in the first place.

    The rest of the team were a big success. We worked and sold very well together. With hindsight I believe an empty seat would have been preferable to all of us. Including (maybe even especially), the guy I had to let go.

    That was a pretty dumb thing, and I’ve learned to work with some great empty seats since then.

  2. One of the most difficult things about what we do in HR is when we have to terminate people. I think one of the worst "choices" I made in the future is not standing up to management when I thought a termination was the wrong decision.

    When I was new to HR, I tended to be the rubber stamp that either put terms through or not, but I didn't review them as much as I should have.

    Now, it's quite the gauntlet to go through becuase we need to remind folks we work with that terminating someone (even lay-offs) change people's lives. It's a grave decision that shouldn't become a quick "choice."

    Hard lesson to learn !! Thanks for the prod Jay. Always love hearing your candid perspective.

  3. Doug - great example...and thanks for sharing it. I love your concept of "working with empty seats." Thanks for your comment.

    Steve - Some lessons are hard to learn; but, as long as we do learn we can keep making progress! Thanks Steve.

  4. We all make good decisions and bad decisions; it's how we DEAL with them that is important. If you held your head up high and said, "yes, I goofed!", that hold a lot more weight with people. Like Steve said, lessons learned.

    And I'm too embarassed to share mine -- and there are PLENTY!!!

  5. Great perspective Heather! You are absolutely right.