“I’m not sure what happened,” Byron explained. “Our company was voted the number one employer two years ago. We have the best employee benefits, we have the best equipment, we have roomy workspaces, our sales people get trip incentives. All of a sudden, to stay profitable, we have to lay some people off. The mood around here turned south very quickly.”
“Times have been good?” I asked.
“Up ’till now.”
“Sales have been off. Suddenly all these great things about our company are costing us out of business.”
“When were the decisions made that put you upside-down on your cost structure?”
Byron had to think back. “Three or four years ago, I guess. Those were the best of times.”
“It’s in the Best of Times that we make our biggest mistakes. A little success can create a whole lot of overhead.”**
**Red Scott’s Cardinals
In my last post, A Level of Competence, I ended with an unspoken question.
What habits do you have that support your success? I am curious to hear from you, so post a comment or reply by email. I will collect, manicure and re-post.
Here are two of my habits.
- Each morning, I fix a cup of coffee, and spend 60-90 minutes writing. This is where the blog comes from, as well as email correspondence with other thought leaders.
- When I drive an automobile, I do NOT listen to the radio, only podcasts or I simply drive and think.
What are your habits?
Emily shifted to the edge of the chair in anticipation. “Okay, I’m game,” she said. “If I want my team to make changes, I have to look at myself first. So, I am willing to do that. I want to make things come out better, make my team better, make myself better. I want to make a difference. I want to change the outcome.”
“Emily, we don’t choose the way things turn out. I mean, we may think we choose our success, but we do not. The only thing we choose are our habits. And, it’s our habits that determine our success. What are those grooved and routine behaviors that chip away at the world? If you want to know how to influence others, you have to first understand how you choose your own habits.”
Do people learn more from success or failure?
For me, it is always failure. I learn the most from my mistakes.
Success, for me often breeds arrogance. How does the saying go – the worst thing that can happen to a golfer is to have a great day on the greens.
It is our mistakes, our failures where we learn the most. For a manager and a team member, learning cannot be an exercise of micro-management, but one of failure and mistakes.
So, if we learn more from mistakes, how do we teach people to fly a plane? Mistakes cost life and limb. Mistakes can be fatal.
As a manager, you have to manage the risk in project work. We teach people to fly in simulators, where they can make mistakes, learn, make more mistakes and learn. We learn more from one mistake than we do from a dozen successes.
There are some behaviors you simply contract for. But, just because we have an agreement, does not necessarily mean we will see the behavior. I always look for habits.
Required behavior is one of the Four Absolutes necessary for success in any role.
- Skill (technical knowledge, practiced performance)
- Interest, passion, value for the work/li>
- Required behavior (contracted behavior, habits, culture)
I look for those routine, grooved behaviors that support the required behaviors in the role. If a behavior requires a Herculean effort to comply, it is likely that sooner or later, the agreement will be broken. If the behavior is supported by a habit, it is likely I will gain commitment to that behavior.
We think we choose our success.
We do not.
We choose our habits.
It is our habits that determine our success.
Here is how to interview for habits. -Tom