Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lessons Learned – Lessons Forgotten

A few years ago I worked with a client who was looking for more from his team. They weren’t bad he had said, but they weren’t performing at the level he would have liked them to. I did a quick analysis of his team and came back with 4 factors for us to work on together.

1. Providing a vision
2. Defining roles and responsibilities
3. Creating accountability
4. Matching talents with roles

He clearly had a vision for his organization and how it fit into the overall company vision, but his employees were not aware of that vision and, therefore, could not buy into it. He thought the vision was clear, but as is often the case, it was clear only to him. Once we spent some time clarifying his vision and communicating it to his team, there was immediate improvement. Of course, having a clear vision that the team all bought into made it relatively easy to work with the team members and define their specific roles and responsibilities. While they all had their roles established before we started working together, those roles were fluid and were based on what they thought the goal was, rather than the actual goal. Once the roles were identified, we put the measurements in place to ensure that things were progressing and, last but not least, we made sure that we had a good match between the talent on the team and the jobs that needed to be done. It took us a few months to work through all of the details, but it was time well spent. Productivity increased, morale improved, and he began to feel good about his team again.

Flash forward about 3 years and I received a call from this client, again looking for my assistance. He had been promoted and was in a new role. As is often the case with any new boss, he wanted to make some changes in his organization. His vision was somewhat different from his predecessor and he was having challenges bringing it all together. He’d been with his new team for a few months and it wasn’t coming together as quickly as he would have liked.

I spent some time with his team and then sat down with him to discuss the plan for moving forward. I told him it was a 4 step plan:

1. Providing a vision
2. Defining roles and responsibilities
3. Creating accountability
4. Matching talents with roles

It only took a few minutes of discussion for him to realize that these were the exact same 4 items we had worked on together a few years earlier. These were all things that he knew were important, but that he had not taken into account in his new organization.

These were lessons that he had once learned, but somehow forgotten.

And the truth is that this happens to all of us. We learn lessons over time, but somehow forget the things that we learned. And we make the same mistakes all over again. We hire someone really smart and learn a lesson about the value of surrounding ourselves with talent, but then, for our next hire, we look for skills and forget about talent.

We spend the time to plan our project out and it turns into a major success, but then we create the plan for our next project on the back of a napkin. Or worse, the plan is only created in our minds.

We provide someone with honest feedback, presented in a way which shows that we understand them and that we want to help them succeed, and we watch them blossom. Then we turn around and give the next person feedback that hurts their feelings and creates a low sense of self-esteem. And, we watch this person fall apart in front of us.

We all learn lessons in life and yet, somehow, we all forget the lessons we’ve learned and we make the same mistakes all over again. We do it as children, we do it as young adults, and we do it as seasoned professionals. Over time, existing ideas are replaced with newer ideas, and new thoughts replace old ones. And this happens even if the old thoughts are good thoughts, relevant thoughts, important thoughts.

How do you ensure that you’re not repeating your past mistakes?

How do keep those lessons that you’ve learned fresh in your mind?

How do you continue to grow as a person and as a leader?

Often this journey is not one that we take on our own but, rather, with a trusted advisor, mentor, or coach. Having someone to assist you is one of the surest ways to ensure your own success.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:

• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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