As my children have gotten older (my daughter is nine and my boys turn six in less than a month) my wife and I have delegated to them more responsibilities. For example, my daughter, because she can read the labels and the boys can’t, sorts the dirty laundry between the warms and colds. The boys make their own beds, clear their plates from the table and even, occasionally, help with dishwashing or feeding our dog (I still have the duty of picking up her, well, duty).
Of course, being kids, they frequently neglect these chores. Hey, even most adults would rather be watching TV or reading a book than scrubbing the bathroom toilet. I get it. So we do have to remind them, sometimes gently, sometimes sternly, on a regular basis to take care of their responsibilities.
My daughter, however, has reached the age where virtually every query about her responsibilities which have gone undone is met with a handy excuse.
“You didn’t tell me I had to.” (Uh, yes, I did.)
“The boys/TV/book/game were distracting me.” (And whose fault is that?)
“I forgot.” (Well, okay, I’ll give you that one. For now.)
In our house these are called “The Yeah Buts” which, I now realize, sounds like a good name for a band. As in: “Yeah I [insert handy excuse]. But [insert what I think is a good reason why you shouldn’t expect so much from me].”
But trust me when I say that children are hardly the only human beings to frequently use “The Yeah Buts.”
Just this week, in fact, I was out to eat with a friend and they ordered a pulled pork sandwich from the menu of our chosen dining establishment. When it arrived, the sandwich was cold. So my friend asked the waitress to send it back to the kitchen in the hopes of it returning hot. When it did, the sandwich itself was hot, but now the side of mashed potatoes was cold. Meanwhile my friend also discovered the ratio of pork to bread on the sandwich made it a stretch to call it a pulled pork sandwich, as opposed to just, you know, bread. Anyway, At that point my friend was so hungry, she went ahead and ate the pork off the sandwich anyway. When she asked to speak to the restaurant’s manager about the experience, well, let’s just say the manager had her own case of “The Yeah Buts.”
So between listening to my daughter and this restaurant manager, not to mention the presidential candidates, I’ve come to realize that culpability is a trait that just isn’t practiced as much as it should. In the business world, company employees often hide behind opaque policies and provisions to avoid assuming responsibility for a problem or a mistake. Or when they do make an effort to resolve it, it comes with a litany of “Yeah Buts” that would make my daughter proud.
At The Pace Group, yes, we make mistakes too, though not very often. Our on-time delivery and customer satisfaction ratings are both in the 99th percentile. But we are, after all, human beings and we are not perfect. We believe strongly, however, in doing business with integrity and humility, so much so that they’re among our Guiding Principles. So when a problem does occur, no matter if the mistake was ours or not, you won’t hear “The Yeah Buts” from us.
We’ll be too busy trying to make it right.