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Is It Time to Bring Back the Suggestion Box

I recently had the privilege of attending a presentation by Andy Stanley titled “Uniquely Better.” Andy is the founder of a ministry program in the Atlanta area that grew rapidly, and he took time to analyze why and share with us how we could grow our own organizations.

We have all been asked the question, “If you had it to do all over again what would you do?” Andy rephrased this question to, “If you had to do it all over again what would we do, ALL OVER AGAIN?” I immediately recalled the many “post mortem” meetings in my career where we discussed what went wrong upon the completion of a project, and I wondered could we have improved if we would have focused on what went right rather than what went wrong. How could we have energized the process and encouraged each other? If we continue to focus on what went wrong, how will we know what went right? This process may have become a catalyst to drive the organization to be “uniquely better” than the competitors.

Andy stated, “Discovering how to be uniquely better is virtually impossible.” The process to become uniquely better is a product of circumstance. It is a solution to a problem, and the challenge lies in recognizing rather than resisting ideas. I began to think back to the suggestion box from long ago and how it turned into a complaint process, “You know what we did wrong here – we didn’t let the team solve the problem, we didn’t even share the ideas effectively.” The process would be a success if we had let the group with the idea come up with a couple solutions and give them a budget to give it a try. This could have been the next big idea; instead we looked at headcount, talked with operations, accounting, safety, and squashed the idea without much involvement from the team of people directly impacted. We failed the team.

So it’s a new day, and now I have a plan, with the help of Andy. He gave us the framework of how to create a culture that is Uniquely Better. “Be a student not a critic, Keep your eyes and mind wide open – because closed-minded leaders close minds.” That is a pretty strong statement.

Here are some key questions from the presentation that I think are valuable to ask yourself as a way to help you embrace the potential of becoming Uniquely Better:

  • How do you respond to staff when they make a suggestion based on what they experienced in a different organization?
  • When has your company embraced an idea that wasn’t yours?
  • When was a time that you weren’t sure about an initiative but went ahead anyway?

 

We naturally resist things we do not understand. How can we to retrain ourselves to not criticize something we don’t understand? A key take-away from this presentation was a simple step that I think each of us can make – here it is – do you have a post-it note ready?

“Replace the word HOW with WOW

Andy explained that by making this simple change, “We will WOW ideas to LIFE rather than HOW them to DEATH.” That is an intriguing thought, isn’t it?

He shared that there is nothing gained when we don’t know what our team is dreaming about. As a professional and a parent, what he said next was very powerful; it gave a call to not only use these techniques at work, but also at home. He said, “be a WOW parent, not a HOW parent; your greatest accomplishment may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I cannot wait to see the sparkle in my kids’ eyes when I say WOW when there is a new great idea discussed around the table. I’m truly excited to use this take-away!

Andy closed with four questions to ask ourselves as a way to drive ourselves to be uniquely better:

  • Is this unique?
  • What would make it unique?
  • Is it better?
  • Is it better really?

 

I encourage you each to use this technique when you are presented with a suggestion or idea from one of your team members.

Purple Ink is on your team and able to help make you and your company “Uniquely Better” with a wide variety of HR services and training. Want to know more? Learn more about our services or send me an e-mail at stacy@purpleinkllc.com.

Stacy Ruminer
Stacy Ruminer
Stacy is a Purple Ink consultant with over 15 years of experience providing complete Human Resources Generalist support in matters including recruiting, employee relations, policy development, FMLA, and benefits administration.

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