Thursday, June 14, 2007

setting them up for failure

Just 2 months ago, there was an historic mansion near Kingswear, Devon in southwest England. It was worth $12 million. The key word here? "WAS".

The millionare owner, Andrew Brownsword, had commissioned a $2 million renovation. Plumbers and construction workers were working all around the mansion.

In the attic, a 17 year old rookie plumber was using a blow torch to do some soldering in the upper roof space. Apparently the flame came into contact with some old insulation...and within minutes the entire mansion was burning to the ground.

It was his first day on the job, and I suspect it will probably be his last.


This week in our pastoral staff meeting at Faith we talked about training and equipping. Far too often, leaders set people up for failure. Organizations recruit randomly and plug individuals into a responsibility with very little preparation, and it often does not turn out well.

The common process goes something like this:

-We need someone to do a job!
-Hey, this person would be great at this job!
-Tell the person what they need to do
-Hope it goes well
-Pretty soon a fire starts
-Oops, crash and burn

Then we wonder why new leaders fail to be developed. Team members get frustrated and quit. WHY? Because we set them up for failure, rather than setting the person up for success.

The training process should go more like this:

1) I do, you watch
2) I do, you help
3) You do, I help
4) You do, I watch

It is tempting to jump from the first step directly to the last step. It takes so much time working together, that we often just hand off the responsibility before a person is ready.

But time spent training is never time is time invested. And it might just prevent the whole organization from burning to the ground!