It's the one we fear most
1 minute read
Failure: It’s the most reviled f-word in our vocabulary. No one wants to acknowledge or experience it, yet failure is one of our greatest allies and best teachers. How much greater might our businesses and relationships be if we weren’t afraid to fail? What would our own personal world look like if we took bigger risks?
Many people and businesses choose not to live up to their potential because they’re afraid of failing but there are many blessings that failure can bring: greater innovation; new pathways to success; grand epiphanies. And then there's COVID-19...
When I talk about celebrating failure, I’m not condoning laziness or a lack of professionalism or a pandemic that came out of nowhere and wreaked havoc. No good comes from patting yourself on the back for missing deadlines, lacking follow-through, being distracted by a multitude of “good-on-paper” ideas or wishing things would go back to the way they were before the pandemic. I’m talking about great ideas with even greater execution that – despite all your blood, sweat and tears -- fail anyway.
It’s pretty much universal knowledge that in order for a muscle to become strong, it has to first be torn down. Many athletes train to the point of muscle “failure” – pushing the body relentlessly until it can temporarily no longer function. Although it sounds unpleasant, pushing a body to that ledge – then over it – is exactly what’s required to summon strength from collapse. Applying this metaphor to all our other failures might help us see past our present disappointments to all the possibilities on the path ahead.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Henry Ford forgot to put the reverse gear in the first car he made, and yet it all worked out for him. Abraham Lincoln had a spectacular track record of loss before he was elected president at age 52 and went on to define greatness in American history. Defeat is a detour, not a dead end. This Japanese proverb says it all: “Fall down seven times. Get up eight.” And now with COVID-19, we all have a chance to completely re-invent the ways in which we do business. In fact, we don't have a choice.
This is a time for bold and innovative thinking, doing and -- yes -- failing. But it won't be the end. It will simply be a step on the way to success and a new way of working that -- believe it or not -- may be better than what we were doing before.
Do you have a “failure narrative,” a story about how failing at one thing led to success at another? Share with us!
It's an opportunity not likely to come around again
3 minute read
If you already had the perfect team prior to Covid-19 and are planning on bringing everyone back to fill their former jobs, read no further. Oh, and congratulations because you’re as rare as a unicorn! Truth is, the vast majority of companies struggle with people issues that reduce team morale, employee engagement and productivity.
If you’ve laid off or furloughed your workers, you’ve now got a blank slate to imagine your dream team. Now’s the time to take those metaphorical brushes and paint a vision of what that will look like when the world re-opens.
Step One: Survey Your Human Landscape
Before Covid-19 hit, how well were your people performing? Did you have any problem employees? Any superstars? Individuals who could be groomed for greatness? And what about diversity? We’re not just talking race, age and gender which are obvious (and easy) ways to assess diversity; we’re talking about workstyles and ways of communicating. This aspect of diversity is so important for healthy, productive teams, and shouldn’t be left to guesswork (or Tarot cards). Now’s the time to discover your employees’ dominant and underused styles via an assessment tool that evaluates personality, communication and workstyles. We use the KIT self-assessment because it’s easy for the respondent and accurate for us when reviewing results. But no matter which assessment tool you use, it’s at this stage you’ll benefit from working with a leadership or HR professional to help you understand the hills and dales of your human landscape.
Step Two: Evaluate Value
Now that you’ve listed your top and bottom performers and evaluated the diversity of workstyles and communication styles, it’s time to look at each employee and assess their value to your bottom line. Are they just marking time until something better comes along? Are they performing at their peak but it’s still not good enough? Are they talented but needy? Do they bring their A-game every day? Are they in the right position? Select only those who bring the most bang for your buck.
Step Three: Make the Cut
Employers care deeply about their people and deciding to permanently furlough someone is a decision not to be taken lightly. This might be the hardest step of all. I once had a client who had only ever hired one workstyle/personality type and had an office full of them. They consistently under-performed because there was zero workstyle diversity on that team and no-one would or could problem-solve. Ever. When the business owner realized he was going to have to make some sweeping changes, he lost plenty of sleep over it. Don’t expect this step to be easy but do expect it to bear fruit when you finally put together a winning team.
Step Four: Build your Dream Team
Now that you know who you’re bringing back and the value they’ll add, look at your gaps and assess how you’ll need to fill them. If you’re bringing new people on board, this is the time – pre-hire – when you need to use that evaluation tool we talked about and ensure you’re getting the workstyle/communication style diversity you need. Don’t ignore this important step! Do you need people who can take charge? People who have high emotional intelligence? Folks who are good analysts? Or do you need one or two highly visionary people? You can’t trust interviews to give you accurate information. People will always tell you what you want to hear. The assessment process will paint the true picture of the person you’re considering and reassure you that you’re making the right choice for your business and the team.
Step 5: Inspire, Motivate and Support
Right away, before the doors fully open and life gets back to a new normal, invest in one great kickoff teambuilding experience for your staff. It’s so important for them to spend this time together to understand each other, bond, and connect to the mission of the company. We use the Teambuilding KIT program because it helps team members recognize and understand each others’ work style and communication preferences, but you can use other programs that are out there. Just be sure to do it sooner rather than later because things will get busy and when that happens, you won’t find the time.
Covid-19 has given us a lot of time at home to prune bushes in the garden, clean out over-stuffed closets, and plant new blooms. Our homes and yards have never looked better! Now it’s time to do the same pruning, purging and growing in our businesses. You wouldn’t let an ivy vine strangle a beautiful ornamental tree, would you? You know to pinch off – or dead-head – spent blooms on your flowers. Think of your business as something alive, that needs tending and the occasional dead-heading. This is an unprecedented opportunity for transformation, and we’re here to help if you need us!