We all know the most difficult achievement in baseball or work is the homerun right? In the early days of baseball, homeruns were the rarest of hits. In the early 1900s homeruns constituted only 2.7% of all hits, 76.9 percent for singles, 15.2 percent for doubles, and 5.3 percent for triples. This is as the world should be, you should have to be Joe DiMaggio to hit a homerun like this.
Now days, in baseball the triple is the rarest of all hits at 2.3% of hits. It seems we have brought this stat to work with us and we are all trying to hit home runs now. Not RBIs. Not Singles, Doubles, or Triples, just home runs. Everyone is trying to out do everyone else and deliver the most amazing results largely by themselves. The result, in most companies, the single lowest aspect of job satisfaction is employees feeling they are not recognized for helping others succeed. The whole world is running around trying to “DO” something they can lay credit to and get promoted or become famous, or some such… Of course, to take the baseball analogy one step further, homeruns do not win games, manufacturing runs wins games, in other words using bunts, steals, and singles to get runners to home plate. So why have we stopped manufacturing runs at the office? What we have here is a failure to understand how credit works.
How credit works:
Single – If you do something yourself you get credit for a job well done. Excellent work they say and then give you your next assignment which looks disturbingly like the one you just delivered.
Double – I call this the Tom Sawyer. If you get someone else to do the work, you will get credit, they will get credit, then you can spend your time doing something else for which you will also get credit! Why do you both get credit? Because what matters is getting shit done. The only time this is not true is when you get someone else to do your work and then you simply go and play golf. All the boss cares about is productivity on the highest priority items.
Triple – Many people call this plagiarizing to which I say, “ah, you must have just graduated from college. Everyone in college learns *copying* someone else’s hard work is cheating.” In the working world, *reusing* someone else’s hard work is just smart business. When you use someone else’s completed work you get credit, then you get the person to do something else for you, and you get to do something else yourself there by getting 3 things done in the time you could have complete one.
Homerun – the Joe DiMaggio, the unicorn, OK so they are not that rare, you are more likely to hit a homerun at work than you are to find yourself riding a unicorn, but at the office we seem to think homeruns are so achievable, so common place, as to be our bread and butter sustenance and yet our careers are starving.
This equation is even better for a manger because, as a manager the reality is you get all the credit. Yes you also get all the blame. This is completely unavoidable. If you say, “aw shucks, thanks for the credit but really little Tommy on my team did all the work”, you still get credit. Of course blame works the same, “Seriously, I had nothing to do with that, it was all little Tommy’s fault”, you still get the blame.
It’s amazing! For the exact same amount of work, by passing on credit or blame to your individual team members now 2 people get credit or blame. How did we magically double the amount of credit to go around? It’s just human nature, people observing a particular success or failure give credit or blame to everyone they know was involved.
As a manager, you can use this to your advantage. Every time someone on your team delivers something great, tell everyone what a great job they did. Your employees career advances and you are seen as an accomplished manager who must be ready for more responsibility. As for the blame, never breath a word of who was at fault because if no one knows who is at fault then only you are at fault and your employees career advances and you are seen as an accomplished manager who must be ready for more responsibility.
True homeruns are the most difficult to achieve, they are few and far between, so balance the number of times you swing for the fence at the office with the number of runs you manufacture. And remember, in business, its almost as easy to hit a triple as it is a single so reuse people’s work wherever possible and it will lead to the most successful career possible however you define success. Just remember, give credit where credit is due or expect what comes around goes around…