Updated: Feb 15
There is a firefight happening nowadays. Reporting, earning, hiring, and firing are no longer done with strategy and precision — the practices are done at a pace that causes mistakes. In addition, onboarding is being done so that new employees feel undervalued right out of the gate.
The frenetic pace continues as the majority of people do not understand a majority of the business processes. The result is that tasks get carried out without a proper understanding of why only they ‘need’ doing and have always been done that way.
Refusing to take stock of what you are doing is being in a state of what I call ‘blissfully unaware.’
Blissfully unaware has its advantages; however, if you are a business or organization truly striving for greatness, this will never do.
Having some metrics on the wall does not make your business transparent and aware. It only means you have metrics on the wall.
Finding the courage to pause and unpack your vulnerabilities can be daunting and damn right overwhelming. But that is why it takes courage!
Any organization can be good, but to be great, it will take a courageous step or, in most cases, steps.
Here are five steps to fully take advantage of the pause to better your organization or team:
1. Include everyone
Pausing cannot just include your senior managers. Respectfully, they are the most likely to be caught in the trap of being blissfully unaware as they convince themselves that everything is all right.
The most influential people in the room are the most vocal. These are the folks that feel like they have nothing to lose by telling you the truth. Unfortunately, they are a rare breed in organizations because most stay in the conversation of safety. Including everyone will ensure you get a broader perspective of your vulnerabilities, but a balance is needed here. You do not want to encourage the few to talk for the many.
2. Listen to understand
This one is hard for many leaders because they take a defensive posture against the information they hear. For example, someone speaks out and says, “The hiring process is terrible; no one has a clue why candidates get chosen, and next thing we know, someone new is sitting at the desk next to us without any communication.” I have been in rooms where the tendency when juicy feedback is given is to defend the process to death, even when it is deeply flawed.
In the journey from good to great, leaders must put down their egos and listen.
The feedback is not a reflection on the leadership; it only becomes a reflection when no action is taken.
3. Accept that you could be part of the problem
It is OK, and I respect that being willing to look at yourself through truthful eyes sounds scary to some. Set the intention of owning, to your core, every business process your organization carries out like it is something you created. Then be willing to reinvent yourself to support the changes that need to happen.
In this case, an introverted leader may need to step a bit outside of their comfort zone, and an extroverted leader may need to dial it back and let others be out front. Whatever needs to happen, be willing to let it happen and take steps to make the shifts.
4. Summarize and communicate
Always summarize your takeaways in the meeting. Maybe you are capturing critical points on a whiteboard as they get thrown around. A personal favourite is meeting participants to write a single idea on a sticky note and stick it on the board. From there, ask team members to group them into themes of ideas and summarize them that way.
The journey from good to great requires a starting point, and this is a great way to keep the communication alive without taking it on yourself.
Schedule follow-up meetings with the participants and be honest and bold in those conversations.
5. Take action
Be brave and take action on the items discussed.
Nothing is more discouraging than nothing getting done after having these conversations. Be responsible for the outcomes and make things a priority.
Committing to causes and following through can demonstrate the same in your people. Know they are watching, watching more than you will ever realize.
Not taking time out to have these kinds of conversations keeps you and your teams stuck in the hamster wheel. Be courageous, put yourself in front of your teams and ask the question, “Where are we struggling?”
You may be surprised by the answers.