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I'm Responsible!

Updated: Nov 2

As managers, you are responsible.....first and foremost, you are responsible for your people. Support them and protect them. Everything else will follow, as your people will trust you.


Yesterday, 90 women gymnasts - that's right, NINETY! - filed suit charging that the FBI failed to pursue an investigation of one Dr. Larry Nassar for abusing and assaulting female gymnasts over some 25 years. Nassar was able to carry this out as a faculty physician at Michigan State University and as the medical coordinator for USA Gymnastics. The number of known victims is known to be about 300 women. 300....contemplate THAT number for a moment.


I've been reading this story for some time, and the question in my mind is always the same: where the f*!# were the adults? Managers? Leadership? Some of the victims say that they reported Nassar's actions to USA Gymnastics. Even if there were no formal reports, no one in any kind of authority knew something was up? As managers, you don't need a formal report to dig. You should have developed relationships in your organizations so that you will "know" stuff. And act. Even if you don't have the authority to take action, you certainly can prod people who can do something to act.


I have several stories to illustrate my point. Some years ago, I flew from Portland, ME to Boston in an 8-seater Delta flight. Because of fog, we ultimately had to return to Portland, My bag? Nowhere to be found, and Delta's contract gate staff ignored me - not even acknowledging with a "give me a few minutes and we'll help". I finally found someone in the airport baggage claim area, an actual Delta employee, who said the magic words: "I'm a supervisor...I'm responsible". He located the bag (on its way to Reno, alas) but arranged for my bag to be forwarded to Charleston the next day.


Another involved an employee health physician where I then worked. His behavior wasn't even close to Nassar's behavior, but inappropriate. A female friend of mine kind of brushed off his action, but I didn't - I went to my boss who was also the boss over the physician. Today, that physician would have been dealt with severely, more than a talking to.


When you have a situation where people or the organization is at risk, management must act and quickly. From a management perspective, the immediate goal is to protect - disable the ability of the perpetrator from continuing their actions. Suspending someone - even with pay - will stop the damaging actions and give the organization enough time to figure out an appropriate action.


Develop relationships. Be physically present so people are comfortable with your being around, Be alert and listen to what people are talking about. And take responsibility.

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