Changing for Progress

This week I am continuing my recent messages about progress. Seems like many people are converging on the crossroads of “What is best for me versus what is best for us”. I often quote my brother with “My value to the company, is my value of the company.” This can be varied into other parts of life as well, such as “My value to my family, is my value of my family.” Its the simple yet uncommon sense of things that I find so intriguing. I will share something I have uncovered about creating progress through change.

Many attempts at change fail. They are too overwhelming or convicting and they call in the fighting power of fear and anxiety to oppose change with all of their might. This type of resistance has an unfair advantage over great ideas. Look at what is left when fear and anxiety bring their nuclear power to a battle against a great improvement. They completely destroy it and the engagement level of the improvement’s advocates. Imagine what it does to ideas that have not had the time to ferment and evolve into something that can stand on its own. Stated differently, what happens to our potential when our response to opportunities to improve are met with our heavy hand of resistance?

Change when it is in its smallest, least threatening form is usually the most successful. To find it, we must work with our strengths. We must be able to utilize our God given tools more naturally. In business, these means we must manage our company the way it was built to be managed.  Honest reflection on the risks of our strengths helps us understand our need for change and our need for compliance with procedure in order to seize our opportunities through change.

I am currently facing a couple of opportunities at work that are good examples of this. Our process is built with regular reviews providing a platform for feedback. There has been talk about lessening the frequency of these. There are seemingly logical reasons for this like the time could be better spent on other things, it takes too long, and more. Examining it more closely, this logic cannot withstand the scrutiny of the powerful reflection of why our company needs a more frequent feedback platform than most companies. Regular feedback is vital to help people stay on track. When we miss the opportunity to provide it, our natural communication shortcoming about feedback becomes expensively clear. 

Its natural for the way our company has operated to not provide a lot of positive feedback, its systemic. Since we have high expectations with great performers, accomplishing great things becomes commonplace, therefore less remark-able. As a result, the default feedback provided happens when an error is pointed out. This gives a tilted, inaccurate representation of one’s performance, leading people to feel like they need to be perfect. This despite the valiant efforts of the words “I don’t expect you to be perfect”.  Rather than wasting efforts in trying to figure out if we do or don’t provide enough, all of which leaves us left in the same position as we started, why don’t we just use the tool that simultaneously lowers the risk of poor performers getting comfortable while encouraging high performers to keep doing what they are doing? Protecting the company while nurturing it to grow is the true responsibilities of a leadership team. Regular, relevant feedback and goals helps us make small, incremental changes that yields big results. Our review process provides easy access to this opportunity. 

Accountability is another one. Knowing what success looks like helps us pave an effective way to get there. People do really well when they fully understand what is expected of them. Management provides a target, then assists in hitting it. Hands on, engaged, and ready to do what is necessary to accomplish the mission. This must be the standard method for someone managing others. I don’t know of anyone successful who prefers it when their manager deploys the cartoonistic ostrich-approach to management where a desired outcome is loosely provided on something that loaded with adversity, then they bury their head in the sand, only to appear after the battle complaining about what has been done. All the while blaming every “who” involved except the man in the mirror. The pointed finger, when directed at a person, is truly more effective at insulting someone than the universally acknowledge raised one. Think about it, its baffling but true. The pointed finger, though, despite the risks of use, is a valuable tool when directed at a goal. Pointing out a target throughout the journey helps people keep the main thing the main thing.

Bringing structure to accountability and communication simplifies the progress of change. Bringing consistent, incremental progress in the structure speeds it. Mining for these golden opportunities will help you experience your possible.

Good Luck!