Pencil vs The Sharpie

How we track wrongdoings dramatically impacts our team

He will write your name in pencil if you don’t meet his expectations or he perceives you crossed him; if it happens again, he writes your name in Sharpie and you never recover.

These words were said of a leader who also professes to have an open door policy, putting people first, and assuming the best. 

But the Sharpie is a trap. When we judge on perception or unspoken expectations, we set our people up for failure.

How does this influence open dialog? Creative thinking? Self-initiation? Testing and trying new things?

Does it foster respective pushback? Can your people disagree with you?

To cultivate a culture of trust and positive intent, there must be no Sharpie. 

A one-sided scorecard to keep tally of wrongdoings serves one purpose: discord.

Instead, use action-based accountability, welcome candid conversation, and exercise empathy.

Disappearing ink may be a better tool for marking missed expectations.

All the best,


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