By Tony Laska, Executive Vice President – Chief Information Officer, Brickstreet Insurance
Common Sense is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “what I think others should know” or by Dictionary.Com as “sound practical judgement that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence”. In both these definitions it’s implied that a person has some basic cognitive knowledge that others can expect that their actions will align with an outcome you desire.
We all have people we assign tasks; they make a bad choice; and we end up wondering how it happened when we think they should know how to get the job done. When these situations occur leaders question the existence of this competency, “common sense”? Is it that the people we hire have a temporary lapse; become too dependent on the reliance of others; are fearful the outcome will ruin their career; or worse yet, they just don’t care?
As a leader in organization I often wonder why people take certain actions that are contrary to what I think they should know. In most cases the outcomes are manageable despite the frenzy it can create. However there are times when decisions are made and the outcome is a big deal. Whatever the situation is that questions common sense, the leader of an organization has to decide the path to take with that person.
I would suggest that the leader’s response to these situations is critical in creating a trusting environment where people can do their best work. As the leader start by asking the following questions, was I:
- clear with my vision
- realistic with my expectations
- concise and direct with my feedback
- empathetic when they needed coaching or advice
If I’m truthful with my part then I ask;
- was this the right assignment for this person
- did they have the tools needed to make the correct choices
- did they reach out for help
- do they truly care about the outcome
All of these questions and the reflection on the path an individual takes can help the leader and individual learn from the situation. If leaders create a learning environment and there is no punitive outcome, trust will be created in the organization. Trust is a key building block to empowering people to use their knowledge and common sense when making decisions for the organization. When we trust one another, we know that they will care enough about their work that any mishap will bother them more than any feedback the leader provides. Trust your people to use their common sense in decision making and avoid the negative feedback that can cause their common sense to come up missing.