The Surprising Contribution That You’re Already Making
If you work or volunteer for a non-profit organization, chances are, you get excited when people make contributions. Contributions of time and talent mean that the work gets done. Contributions of ideas mean that new perspectives and opportunities emerge. And contributions of money mean that your mission and vision can be realized.
And where else should you be looking for contributions? Wherever you hear the words fault and blame.
Those two words, fault and blame, immediately put people immediately on the defensive, create divisiveness in teams, and make people feel untrusted and untrusting. Cut them out and replace them with the word contribution. When you ask people to think about what contributed to a problem, as well as how they themselves might have contributed to the problem, and who else (including, perhaps, you) had a contribution to this problem, it lowers the heat of the conversation and reminds people that challenging situations are complex, with many players. In fact, I ask my coaching clients to practice the habit of naming their own contribution first when speaking with their team or direct reports, which makes people feel more comfortable admitting their own contributions.
Contributions can range from communicating unclear expectations, setting unreasonable timelines, micromanaging (or under-leading), a lack of follow-up or follow-through, allowing scope-creep, a missed opportunity to offer feedback, ignoring the warning signs, or a failure to speak up or speak out. Contributions can be big or small – and yet, every contribution matters. (Sound familiar?)
The next time a difficult conversation or situation arises, ask yourself, “what was the other person’s contribution to this?” AND ask yourself, “what was mine?”
Fault and blame make people want to stop contributing time, talent, ideas and money. Contribution begets contributions.
So what’s yours?