Humbled by a Compliment

This isn’t a self-help channel, don’t switch off!  Skip to the fourth paragraph if you must.

Sometimes the most unexpected things happen to you and you revert to type: you become the person you are when you are not being the professional you.  At least that is true for most people: there are some wonderful expectations who “are all that they are” in or out of the office. They always seem to be so successful and over the last few years the business press has told readers to “become authentic”.

There isn’t much difference between me at home and my professional behaviour: my faults are similar in both situations and my best bits are my best bits. I promise that every day I am learning to get the best of each side of my world and minimise the impact of my faults on others. Recently, I have been enthralled by various theories of management and models of the business world.

Yesterday, I was humbled by a compliment.  A training practitioner I respect was the speaker in a pre-conference seminar.  He is fun to listen to and I really had to get there to meet him in person. His session was full of energy and participation.  But he asked one question from a topic I knew well, which no-one seemed to want to answer, so I offered an answer.  His response was “That is the best answer I’ve ever heard for that question. Did you hear that?”. On reflection, I am humbled not by his response but by my recognition of where I was taught the answer.

When I started my career as a manager, I worked in a company that wanted creative and high performing teams.  So, I was trained as a manager.  What a rarity then (and, unfortunately, now) for a manager to be trained in management. 

The answer I gave to the question was from my basic training and it is stuff I’ve forgotten to use. (Palm of hand to forehead time!) I have to go back to school and unlearn some of the clever stuff I’ve been taught about management.

There are some fundamentals:

  • people want to do good work and take pride in that – and that feeling of pride is a great motivator
  • if you help them understand what good work means, give them information, and support their learning curve, they will give outstanding performance you must praise
  • respect and trust your team, give them the freedom and resources they need: they can do things you don’t stand a chance of doing on your own
  • High performance teams are judged on results not effort, so be careful what you see as a measure and worry less about how they get there: use their unique experience, skills and understanding
  • Allow those closest to the customer to choose what needs to be reliably exactly the same each time and where variation is the way to delight customers
  • If you build systems around people to support work (not control it) you get repeatability where it is needed, innovation and the occasional mistake (learning experience: for them and the organization)

I was taught all of this before I was 21.  I am humbled by the managers who had the foresight to teach me and tell me to read Edwards Deming, Marcus Buckingham, Tom Peters, Charles Handy and Jan Carlssen.


About 3triangles
Helping organisations make change happen in 3 key areas: strategic change, deliver tactical impacts, efficient and effective processes. All blog content (c) 2009 - 2012 Carol Long and Three Triangles Performance Ltd

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