Tag Archives: Human Resources

Monday Morning Moment – Turning Around a Work Culture – From “Not Good Enough” to “Job Well Done”

blog-demanding-bosses-linkedin-dave-kerpenPhoto Credit: LinkedIn – Dave Kerpen

Aha moments can occur in all sorts of settings. My latest happened during our pastor’s sermon this week. Toward the end of a deep and fascinating exposition of Colossians 2, Pastor Cliff reminded us that we are not meant to earn God’s approval. He gives it unconditionally. Then Cliff talked about how we get caught in the trap of “It’s never enough!” when thinking of our efforts or accomplishments. Then “It’s never enough” or “Not good enough” too easily turns into “You’re not good enough.” This is the place where what we do intersects with who we are…

Switch from the Sunday Bible lesson to the Monday workplace application. I’m not talking the unconditional love of God here, but what happens to us in continuous feedback loops. Stay with me…This made me think uncomfortably about the way I once operated in the area of idea generation and innovation.

I am “an editor”…it gives me great satisfaction to take a document or process and make it better. Recently a friend asked me to edit his manuscript. It’s going to be such a great read…can’t wait for it to be published. Still, there will be lots of edits. For me, being an early reader, I just took care of some grammar and flow issues. There will be more qualified editors down the road. It’s enough for me to do quick, elementary edits and wildly praise the author and his riveting storyline, cheering him on to the next steps of publishing.

The tweaking that I used to do regularly in my earlier professional life was more intense in those days…and less forgiving. I wanted it (whatever it was) to be right, and it was my immodest opinion that I could get it to right. Especially when evaluating someone else’s work (ironically, I was less hard on my own work – figuring it was perfect already, right? Sigh…). The tweaking of another era has come round to a newish process called iteration.

One definition of iteration is the “process of learning and development that involves cyclical inquiry, enabling multiple opportunities for people to revisit ideas and critically reflect on their implication”. These feedback loops are meant to be fast-paced with the finish in view.

ScenarioPhoto Credit: SafariBooksOnline

Where iteration (or tweaking) breaks down (if I might be so bold) is when it’s taken well past rapid feedback loops into a realm of fine-tuning that has the team guessing “will it ever be good enough?” Product design and process development are vital to any company, but what we must also consider is the team or personnel involved.

If the feedback loops relate to the launch of a new product or a new business process, excitement and brainstorming are part of the momentum. Continuing to tweak over months instead of weeks before the launch can take a negative toll on the team. No one wants to forfeit excellence, but we don’t want to lose excellent personnel either.

blog-demanding-bosses-lifehackerPhoto Credit: Lifehacker

Trusting the judgment of our best thinkers is worth the risk of possibly releasing a product or service when we may not all be sure it’s “perfect”. That is what beta-testing is all about…the feedback that then comes to us from the consumer or user.

I’m really talking out of my element here (not being a designer or innovator so much as a lifelong learner). My leap from the sermon to the workplace relates to my own past struggle with wanting something with my name on it to be perfect while exhausting my teammates  with “what if we do this?” or “What if we say it this way?”

What a gift for us to take a well-thought-out proposal and, instead of putting it through the “just not good enough” wringer, we read it and pass it back to that colleague and say, “Good job”…empowering them to execute the proposal. How often does that happen these days?

Please share stories [in the Comments] of work situations where you experienced genuine affirmation for a job well-done.

Recently when water started backing up into the kitchen sink, I was afraid that it was something I had done. Too liberal using the disposal, for instance. Dave was out of town and nothing I could do would remedy the situation. Finally, on a Sunday afternoon, in desperation, I called our plumber (Richmonders, if you need a good plumber, email me, and I will give you his contact info). He came and fixed the problem, and best of all, it wasn’t my fault, after all. This young man literally LOVES his job and was kind to take the time, after he was off the clock, to give me the breakdown of what the problem was. What he charged me? Worth every penny…especially the part where it wasn’t something I had done wrong.

Why I bring this up is that being a fairly capable and creative person doesn’t prevent me from faltering at the likelihood that I messed-up.  See the Imposter Syndrome. My mental wiring is such that I get discouraged when my contribution to a situation actually causes more work for someone else, adds expense, or slows down progress. I’ve learned over the years that all that tweaking I may not have taken the product from good to great, and most assuredly caused some amount of frustration to hard-working, quality colleagues. Lesson learned.

There are times and seasons when tweaking is appropriate in developing a product and changing a business process. What we want to take into account is the cost of that tweaking, or iteration, on the people who make things happen in our workplaces. Free them from the “not good enough’s” to enjoy the fruit of “jobs well done”.blog-demanding-bosses-the-musePhoto Credit: The Muse

10 Tips for Dealing With an Overly Demanding Boss – Jacquelyn Smith

How to Get Over the Feeling that You’re Not Good Enough for Your Job – Michele Hoos

10 Things You Can Do to Get Out of Your Boss’s Doghouse – Brian Dodd

Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work – Alfie Kohn – Harvard Business Review

Good Is Not Good Enough: The Culture of Low Expectations and the Leader’s Challenge – Karlene M. Kerfoot

Innovation and Iteration: Friends Not Foes – Scott Anthony – Harvard Business Review

Holding a Team Retrospective – Morale

Workplace Bullying: Protecting Yourself at Work – Slideplayer

Monday Morning Moment – Our Work Ethic Pushes Us On When Our Passion Wanes – How’s Your Work Ethic?

Blog - Work Ethic & Passion - twitterPhoto Credit: Twitter

Can our work ethic sustain us when our passion wanes?

Eric Chester has been studying and writing about today’s emerging workforce since the 1980’s, when Generation Y was in its infancy. Millennials have been examined and critiqued so much, but Chester has done his homework in how to help them be successful in the workplace. He also challenges employers to equip these young adults with what they may not have upon entering the workforce – that being a strong work ethic.

In his article in The MHEDA Journal, Chester defines work ethic as simply “knowing what to do and doing it“. Through his research, Chester created a list of seven indisputable, non-negotiable core values that he strongly believes every employer should demand: positivity (positive attitude), reliability, professionalism, initiative, honesty, respect, and gratitude (cheerful service).

This is not just so for millennials but for all of us in the workforce. What do we need to be successful or effective across a career? Is it passion or work ethic? Passion (strong or powerful emotion, deep desire, intense conviction) is a big buzzword right now in hiring, but what we really need is work ethic. As Chester states, in his book Reviving Work Ethic, “passion doesn’t fuel work ethic; work ethic fuels passion.”

A strong work ethic will carry us through seasons in our career when we’re “just not feeling it”.  I appreciate the distinction Chester makes about how our work ethic actually fuels our passion and not the other way around. We may not all have passion in measures that enhance our success, but we can apply ourselves with diligence and intentionality such that we can push through to the finish, whatever it is. When passion wanes, this is a great encouragement to me.

Blog - Work Ethic 1 - pinterestBlog - Work Ethic 2Photo Credit: Pinterest, Pinterest

Arlene Hirsch quotes Mark Cuban’s thinking on passion and work ethic:

“’Follow Your Passion’ is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.

1.  When you work hard at something you become good at it.

2.   When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.

3.   When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.

4.   When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.

Don’t follow your passion, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”

Chester uses the analogy of building a fire in a fireplace. You have to set the logs in place before you start the fire. Passion will heat up a conversation or spark a vision, but it won’t get the job done, whatever it is. This is where our work ethic when applied will get us to goal, to mastery, to the finish. That in turn gives rise to passion as we see what is possible when we put forth the best effort that is each of ours to bring.

Blog - Work Ethic and Passion - slidesharePhoto Credit: SlideShare

Whether you are newly employed in the workforce or a seasoned veteran, it’s wise to consider the bottom line of what we ought to bring to our jobs. This will vary across organizations and companies, especially as our workforce itself changes in the years to come. Chester’s summation is noteworthy for all of us:

“Employers are searching for positive, enthusiastic people who show up for work on time, who are dressed and prepared properly, who go out of their way to add value and do more than what’s required of them, who are honest, who will play by the rules, and who will give cheerful, friendly service regardless of the situation.”

How’s your work ethic?…

Whatever our passion might be today, our work ethic can be rock solid…something we count on in each other at work in the every day.

Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce by Eric Chester

On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out by Eric Chester

Employers Must Pick Up the Slack, Instill Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce – article by Eric Chester

Follow Your Energy, Not Your Passion – article by Arlene Hirsch

What’s Wrong with Work Ethic in America? – article by Patricia Fripp

SlideShare – Metric Driven Talent Management – 21st Century Talent Management Conference – Tanzania

YouTube Video – Book Trailer for Reviving Work Ethic by Eric Chester

YouTube Video – Book Trailer for On Fire at Work by Eric Chester

Work Ethic Quotes – Pinterest

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