Do they understand why?
In the book “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” the author Jocko Willink describes a time when he and his team were put into a situation that they didn’t like. Jocko’s unit was conducting missions in the battle for Ramadi, Iraq and they had been doing well. But then a decree came down from the higher ups that said that the SEAL unit must take an Iraqi force with them on every mission.
The reason this was an issue was that the Iraqis were not the same caliber fighter as the SEALs. Jocko said that at the time, the force was poorly equipped with a hodgepodge of uniforms, making distinguishing friend from foe difficult, and they were in flip-flops. Their equipment was in poor shape and they questioned if some their weapons would fire or not.
On top of those issues, their physical conditioning was substandard. Jocko pointed out that most of the Iraqi soldiers that they encountered could barely do a few pushups. And having physical prowess is important when on the battlefield.
In a meeting with his unit, Jocko relayed the message to his team that they needed to take a unit of Iraqi soldiers with them on every mission — to which he was instantly met with backlash. The SEALs pointed out how all the things listed above could get the Iraqi, and possibly SEALs, killed, but it was also going to dampen the SEALs ability to successfully carry out missions. They just didn’t understand why their superiors would do this when the unit was being so successful.
Jocko quieted the group down and began to explain the ‘why’ behind the order. You see, if the U.S. forces could not get the Iraqi soldiers up to par so that they could handle the security of their country on their own, the U.S. forces would be there indefinitely. In other words, the SEALs needed to work with and train the Iraqi soldiers to ensure that they could secure their own country. If not, the SEALs would never truly win.
Once the SEALs understood why their superiors had issued this order, they did what SEALs do: They got the job done and got it done well.
Jocko uses this story to illustrate how in the business world, management sometimes makes decisions and rules that the other employees don’t understand. And if they don’t get why the change has been made, they’ll either not do it, or they won’t do it well. Because of that, it’s very important that the leaders take the time to make sure their people understand the ‘why’ behind things.
This week I’ve had the opportunity to practice this principle ranging from the children at home, employees at work, and even prospective tenants. We’ll focus on the latter for the remainder of this column.
You see, we do something called an in-home interview in our tenant selection process. This is where I go and meet with prospective tenants, their families and their animals at their current house after their applications have been vetted and they’ve met our criteria on paper.
This week we had a great application come in. They had been on the job for a long time, had income that was above what was needed to rent the house and plenty of funds on hand to move in. They possessed home maintenance skills and had been very responsive during the application process.
They met all our criteria, and we went to set up the in-home. But the applicant was not too keen on this idea. They said they don’t normally invite people they don’t know into their house. They just wanted to know why we needed to do the in-home.
Now this push back doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it typically was the same statement above regarding inviting strangers in. And I’ve always thought it was odd they don’t want to invite someone they don’t know into their home, but they expect us to do it with our rental house. But that’s not the issue. They simply don’t understand why we do this.
So, I explained the why to the applicant. I told them we would be meeting for two basic reasons. First was to introduce the four jobs of a tenant. And the second was to get a feel for each other to see if we would be able to work together. I explained that we were about to enter into a landlord tenant relationship, and it’s really hard to have a relationship with someone’s paper application. So, we do the in-homes to meet the people, and the pets, just to make sure we’ll be a good fit before we make any other decisions.
They responded that they understood, scheduled the in-home and then thanked me for making sure they understood why the in-home was important.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.