When a problem occurs how does your staff respond? Do you hear...
I didn't... It wasn't me who... I wasn't there when... I didn't know... No one told me...
All too often when things go wrong staff members focus on defending themselves rather than on fixing problems. The priority seems to be to maintain innocence and deflect blame elsewhere. I once worked for a boss who had a favorite response he used when people started defending themselves and pointing fingers...you're right and we lose.
His point was that if we had a problem, what was least important at that moment was who was in the right or the wrong. Our customers didn't care who caused the problem, they just wanted it fixed. As long as the problem existed we all were losing. We as employees and the organization as a whole were losing the credibility, trust and confidence placed in us by our customers. He wanted us to focus first on getting the problem fixed, then worry about who did what.
As a summer camp leader I regularly think back to the lesson I learned from this boss. When something goes wrong at camp, I want the initial focus to be on getting things fixed. I don't want to waste time listening to blaming, excuses and finger pointing. Let's solve the problem as quickly as possible.
I try to work with our staff to avoid the initial "it's wasn't me" reaction and instead focus on how we fix problems. I try to help them understand that when there is a problem at camp, we all own it and need to take responsibility for it. In the midst of the chaos and emotion created by a problem is not the time to sort out what happened and who did what. Get the situation resolved and then take a look at what happened when you have the benefit of some hindsight and less stress and pressure.
Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.