The Long View

We struggle with this one.

Often as I consult with friends and peers we come across the scourge of the realtime lifecycle: the inability to take the long view. Yet, if you seek to manage others, or even if you simply apply these parameters to romance or finance, the ability to think downstream regarding today’s circumstances is paramount.

In a word where corporate reputations are only as good as the last quarterly results, where news cycles are 24 hours and text messages comprise our communication preference, brevity and ephemeral content rule. Who are we? Depends on the day. And yet, who we are, especially in the workplace is a function of oh so many moments strung together, woven as a tapestry over time.

Even though we like to think we can remake and reshape ourselves with chameleon-like efficiency it turns out we’re more like stone or marble withstanding the vagaries of time. We’re more brick than click.

My work has put me in many situations where behavior and expectation diverge: people do dumb things. And wondering about motivation can be interesting but in the end not altogether helpful. Its what we do now that counts. Its taking the long view.

To wit: yes, we can fire people with relative ease (unlike my peers in the Euro Zone) and sometimes we do. But should we? Sure, we can end a romantic relationship over differences real or imagined and yes, we can pull the plug on investments but when is the time to do that?

While the analogy holds, I’ll spare my financial advice and, as to affairs of the heart, this blog doesn’t address that. So let’s deal with people, whom many businesses claim are their most important asset. Too often I see clients make rash decisions about performance, promotion, projects and potential. Too often we adopt the immediate horizon as the one that counts and make decisions that fit for today. But is today going to be repeated tomorrow? If history tells us anything the answer is no.

Taking the long view relative to employees in the workplace means we really think about this asset and how best to deploy it. Yes, people can and do disappoint us, but would you disown your kids for every error in judgment they made, or give your pup away because they were slow to training? Of course not: you’e thinking commitment and long-term.

Yes, I know, employees are neither canine or children, but our commitment to their long-term success can as real. Taking the big picture in context sometimes subsuming ego and restraining emotional response. It means doing what’s best for the organization and even though that can mean separation [that will] be because that action is best for the whole over time.

Taking the long view means the slights of today matter little versus the health of the organization over time. It means we treat people as adults.

Make a difference. Take the long view.


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