In a recent conversation with one of our grandchildren, my lovely bride of 37 years (Moe) got to hear one of them express frustration about a classmate who “cuts corners.”
As did my grandchild, most of us first became aware of the corner cutters in elementary school. They’re the ones who:
say they will, but don’t
are better talkers than git-r-doners
never volunteer for the heavy lifting
regularly don’t hold up their end of the bargain
show up for the party, but skip out on the clean-up
like the praise, but not the dirty work required for significant achievement
shave off the details that really make a difference
leave tasks partially and poorly finished
don’t carry their share of the weight
can’t be counted on in a pinch
show up late and leave early.
Every organization has corner cutters, so it’s not like there is a cure. In fact, we often like, if not love, some of the corner cutters in our organizations.
We’ve all been exasperated by the corner cutters in our lives. Our exasperation does not change their behavior. I’m not sure anything can change corner-cutting behavior.
What we don’t have to do, however, is assign them important tasks or pretend that they are not corner cutters. Liking them doesn’t have to mean we make the futile mistake of depending on them. That’s an important life lesson I’ll try to teach my grandchildren.