What If…


What if our organizations were run like NHL teams?

What if…

..our companies started each financial year with a precise understanding of what the goal for the year was

…every day, every employee knew how the company was performing relative to the goal

…each employee had clear metrics so they could see every day what their own performance was, and how it was contributing to the company’s goal

…after a great, productive day at work, thousands acknowledged it

…after an unfocused, unproductive day at work, thousands acknowledged it

… we paid our employees the most when they were the most productive – peaking between ages 34 and 45 and then gradually decreasing until retirement

mastery of a certain profession allowed one to achieve top levels of compensation instead of having to be promoted into management

… those who were most directly responsible for the revenues that the products bring in got paid the most money

… employees negotiated individual contracts for specified and relatively, short durations, and the final compensation was based predominantly on results

…these contracts were often negotiated by third party agents

…every employee knew what every other employee’s salary was

…employees performance was always watched and commented on by the media and the rest of the community

…most of the community cared about employees’ performances and had  strong opinions about who were the best and who weren’t pulling their weight

…companies  traded employees with other companies to acquire new skill sets or to give employees a fresh start, without necessarily adding to their salary base

…companies could send employees “back to school” (and, depending on the contract, pay them less) if their performance wasn’t acceptable or they needed more seasoning

…companies scouted universities, colleges and high schools for top prospects

…prospects who didn’t get job offers could get “tryouts” with companies to show their skills

I’m not suggesting that any of these items would be good or bad. It’s just something to think about.  Or, as a good friend of mine often says…”I’m not sayin’… I’m just sayin'”

Have a great Labour Day Weekend!

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Encouraging Failure


Should we encourage failure?!

If we try something and fail, what is the result? For people who are motivated and clear on their goals, not achieving the goal the first time is of no concern. Instead, they ask themselves, “what did I learn, and how can I apply that to my next “try” to make success more likely?” And then, they try again.

Even genius requires failure. For example, Thomas Edison’s successes were not without setbacks. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Imagine applying this approach to a problem at your work. Imagine “trying” 10,000 times without success and still looking positively for potential solution 10,001! Fortunately, most of us aren’t trying to develop a new technology that will change the world. For most of us, 1/100th of this persistence would be more than enough to be very successful and make a significant difference in our organizations.

3 Keys to Turning a “failure” into a success:

  1. Be “Crystal-Clear” on the goal – write it down, make sure all the team members affected know it, and understand why it’s important (if they personally benefit, even better!)
  2. Go into new initiatives looking for ways to improve them, not trying to rationalize problems that come up. When you encounter a hiccup, you’ll expend your energy and creativity on improvements not dwelling on the problem.
  3. Stick with it. Often you’re much closer to the solution than it appears.

Ultimately, I’m not really encouraging failure, am I? I’m encouraging effort, and creativity and persistence. If we encourage these in our organizations, we must accept that we’ll have failures and we must embrace the learning the failures provide. Alternatively, if we want to avoid failures, we can stop trying, and our results will reflect our efforts. 

Work doesn’t have to suck!


Pay attention to the various media and it seems most believe that work is nothing but a chore. We just need to “get through the work day” so we can savour our time away from work. Of course this means we rule out enjoying around 1/2 our waking hours. (You do the math, I’ve got a blog to write.) I don’t want to write off half of my prime years without a fight. I don’t accept that work HAS to suck!

So why do so many accept that it does? One word, conditioning. Not the explicit kind of conditioning that we get through all the media messages (though that can’t be helping). No, we are conditioned through implicit messages our organizations send when average or poor results are deemed acceptable. You’re probably thinking. “My company would never accept poor results, nor would I”. Really? Ever ask an employee to take on a project and then not follow up on it for 6 months? Ever set a goal for a department or employee and then not ask for regular reports on progress? When you’ve asked, “So how’s that project coming along?”, did you get a blank stare and then some explanations about “being swamped”. And more, did you accept that explanation and say something like “okay, do your best,” Every time an organization sets a goal, or gives an employee a project but doesn’t show its importance by following up on it, they condition the staff to believe that the results don’t really matter. The longer it goes on, the more conditioned they become.

The more organizational conditioning teaches employees that the results of their efforts don’t really matter – if they get the same feedback, the same response, the same rewards, regardless of the quality of work they do, and the results they get – the less they’ll challenge themselves to find the better solution. When people aren’t challenged, apathy sets in, and then…boredom. When work becomes boring, it sucks to go to work.

Want to condition your people to challenge themselves to find the better solution?

  1. Clarify your organizational goals
  2. Align individuals’ goals with those of the organization and make sure each goal is important to the individual responsible for it.
  3. Make sure the goals are SMART. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Tangible.
  4. Expect regular reports on progress and review them together.
  5. Celebrate successes and challenge them to keep improving.

When people see they are making progress towards worthwhile goals, the work itself becomes the reward whether they’ve reached the goal or not. When the work becomes the reward, it no longer sucks to go to work.