Do you know what you’re doing?
Not long ago I mentioned that research done by Ferndinand Fournies years ago revealed that the number one reason employees don’t do what we want them to do – what they’re supposed to do as Fournies said – was that they didn’t know what that was.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Think about this: in researching thousands of subjects the single leading factor to performance disappointment was that people didn’t know what the hell to do. You want to be a better manager today? Ensure people know what the priorities are and what you’re counting on them for.
Surely you oversimplify Christopher, you may be scoffing at the moment! No, I do not. While it’s true I am a simple man, perhaps even simplistic at times, I’m just reporting the facts here. We demand performance without sharing our real expectations with people clearly. Often our direction in the workplace is just as foggy as any given Monte Python sketch, or even as confusing and capricious as the famous seven red lines talk.
You wouldn’t go to the bakery and order “something” from the oven: you’d ask for a flaky croissant or some fresh rosemary focaccia. So why do we do this to each other in the workplace? What is it that causes us to lose our ability to speak clearly?
In a word, fear.
Until we manage to get our ego under control and discuss what we want exposing how much we really don’t know about it, giving good direction and coaching to others will be impossible.
Ego protects self-identify regardless of how closely (or far away) that self-image is connected to reality. Ego allows us to leave ideas dangling just like the sword of Damocles hanging over others even as we strain to prevent our lack of knowledge become evident.
My favorite experience was working the obtuse “visionary” who complained his staff didn’t “get him” because they weren’t smart enough. Uh, no Bob, staff is fine: the problem is you. You were a crappy communicator (and an average visionary.)
There is however a simple solution even if not easy: get your ego under control. It doesn’t matter if you do so by working out at the gym, practice meditation or yoga, read Carlos Castenada or Miguel Ruiz or just listen to Jack Welch or Orpah on audio: find something to redirect your insight into yourself.
Totally confused? Start with the seminal – and I mean seminal – work by Carol Dweck in Mindset. Start here if all else is fuzzy, so you can begin to understand and ultimately appreciate mindfulness.
Giving clear direction at work and becoming someone people actually want to collaborate with will set you apart in a positive way almost immediately, for most of us are so busy donning armor in the office to protect our fragile ego we’re too busy to let our guard down and let anyone in.
The false belief is that managing your ego reduces your self-confidence: nothing could be further from the truth. Getting a handle on who you are and how you think allows you to strip away needless pretension and posing and actually concentrate on the work to be done, you know, that stuff your employer pays you for.
Managing your ego and practicing mindfulness brings clarity to you and to others.
In plain English, people will actually know what to do.
What a concept.