Do you find that you are constantly rescuing employees?

By John Henderson, Director of Learning & Development

If there isn’t a safety issue nor a deadline that needs to be met – do you, or do you witness others, rescuing other workers? By that I mean doing for others what they can and should be doing for themselves.

A successful organization has a team who are accountable to one another. Accountability breaks down when we (or others) overdo the support aspect of relationships or simply cover for others who don’t do their part. A great team ensures that people are being held accountable for their actions.

However, sometimes out of our nurturing behavior we believe that rescuing someone is helpful. In the Totally Responsible Person program we discover that rescuing and enabling others are really selfish “reactions”.

When we rescue others, we allow our personal desire, agendas, habits and fears to become more important than helping that person experience whatever is happening to them as their opportunity for learning and growth. We prevent them from learning to become accountable and responsible, thus helping them avoid consequences of their actions or inactions. Thus, rescuing and enabling – often done from our own good intentions – may be seen as a selfish activity.

We typically feel good when we rescue someone – but we must step back before we do that and ask ourselves – “will my actions prevent the person from being accountable for what is expected of them?”

There are many reasons we, or others, rescue their co-workers:

  • It’s easier to do it ourselves
  • Out of habit
  • Avoidance of confrontation and conflict
  • A desire to not look bad or heartless in the eyes of others
  • And many more

Holding people accountable can sometimes be difficult but if we don’t to that the person will never learn or grow.