The FFF principle is a topic I like to discuss in mentoring sessions with officers in my institution. We have this program where officers can volunteer to attend these sessions with their desired mentor who, in turn, can share lessons learned in his/her career. The subjects I normally cover are leadership, decision-making and governance. I appreciate the attitude of those who attend because, while attendance is not a requirement, there is willingness to spend extra time, on top of their already rigorous work, to improve themselves further. But going back to the subject, “FFF” stands for “Freedom From Fear” which I read somewhere before, and which, if practiced in the workplace, can eliminate backlogs, lead to faster decisions and boost confidence in oneself. The FFF principle can address many areas but for this article I will just concentrate on three (3) fears from which officers can liberate themselves and be more valuable to their institution.
The first would be Freedom From Fear of Committing Mistakes. People are not perfect and they do commit mistakes; but there are some who do not want to risk committing any mistake at all and would rather delay and wait for all facts to come in and for all studies to be completed before they submit a “perfect” report. This is what we call also as analysis paralysis. In the workplace, there is no such luxury because there are timelines to be met. What is important is that within the timeline given, an officer exercises his utmost diligence to get the necessary information and on that basis submits his report, also within the timeline. There is this illustrative story of a general who delayed and delayed the decision to attack until he had full and complete information about the enemy forces, until he woke up one day and saw the enemy forces outside his tent ready to take over his camp.
The second would be Freedom From Fear of Being Reversed. Some people would want to always look nice before their superiors and so they second-guess what action their superiors want and then customize their endorsements along that line. This is the worst kind of work attitude. With it, one cannot claim to be independent-minded and in fact he causes an unfairness to his superiors by depriving them of knowing other possible options. Officers should be fair and honest in their submission with specific recommendations. Letting go of the fear of reversal and being objective will make one an asset of the organization. The superiors should appreciate them more for that.
The third is Freedom From Fear of Being Accountable. This would refer more to the “CYA” and fence-sitter types and those who are good in shifting tasks to others and in evading assignments and the signing of documents. Their main purpose is to enjoy the rank and perks with zero accountability. It is for management to spot these freeloaders and relegate them to being mere processors. Officers are called upon to be risk-takers and decision-makers. Their actions should be categorical and decisive, and not mere pretexts of doing so through noncommittal memoranda. As Anthony Robbins, a noted life and business strategist, said “a real decision is measured by the fact that you’re taking a new action. If there is no action, you haven’t really decided”.
The above comments are the personal views of the writer. His email address is [email protected]