Recalculating (GPS for Organizations)

The all too familiar mantra of the GPS, recalculating! Life never works as planned and far too often people fight to stay on plan instead of recalculating and adjusting. If your organization or leaders are not agile and able to adapt, you are losing. Adjustments are the difference in life. Just like in sports, every time-out, every half time, after every scoring attempt, adjustments are made. Every time you plan on walking into the dealership “next month” to buy that new car, something unexpected happens, and you have to delay, or they don’t have the color you want or a million other things happen. Maybe you just worked out the details to the organization’s new training requirement or figured out why the new machine you acquired, isn’t working. All of this and more happen all the time.

Don’t get frustrated with these things. Get agile and flexible. These problems are what make great managers. Leaders need challenges to grow. One of the worst things one can do in these situations is to create an environment where your people hide the organization’s problems from you. Having a false sense of the performance of your organization will cripple you as a manager and leader. You cannot be all “hammer” and expect perfection of your people. If you do, they will turn to deception and hope you won’t find out to keep from facing the criticism of your expectations.

Don’t fight to stay on plan. When you realize that planning is not perfect and as changes come the plan must also be adjusted, your people will start to embrace these changes and the environment will be one of acceptance to the natural chaos of organizations. The culture will become one that embraces change and innovation and does not fight change simply because it is change.

Errors, mistakes, laziness are all opportunities to help your people become better. A simple change in how we view mistakes can make a giant difference to your people. The best opportunities are those that happen frequently. Errors that are made over and over again give you insight to what your people value. If they value a process, they will do it correctly. There are two ways to get them to value any process: Tie the process to the big picture and purpose of the work to positively motivate and inspire them to value the process. Or to make the consequences of not doing the right thing less desirable than the effort it would take to do the right thing. The latter is normally how managers operate. It’s how the majority of governments run, which is why laws have consequences, many are natural consequences others are deliberate.

Helping people see the big picture and inspiring them to value the process is much harder than simply making people fear the consequences. More often, you only make your people work hard enough and do a good enough job to not get fired. Inspiring them takes time and starts with a deliberate decision to go that route. Once that has been done, you need to learn what your people value and figure out ways to tie those things to the big picture, which will get them to feel like their effort is worth it.