Some of what I have learned over my 30+years in buisiness.
Passion, in the business sense
I want to talk about passion. What it means and what it accomplishes. A few years back, I was reading materials from the H.R. services dept. at work. I was participating in a hiring/interview team for my former company. The literature talked of the many aspects of the interviewing process of perspective hires. I want to focus upon one such point or aspect. The literature discussed being wary of interviewees that showed any passion or passionate tendencies, saying that ““they“” would not be good employees and in fact could be anti-team oriented. As I read this stuff I realized, more and more, that they were describing “ me”.
The points being made were logical and I understood what the concerns were. It is true that passionate people tend to not let go of an idea and guard it like a dog with a bone. We tend to push the people around us to be better and more productive. We tend to loath lax attitudes. People do not appreciate someone that assails their individual comfort zones and passionate people do just that. They challenge you! The “lead, follow or just get out of the way” attitude. A large mistake, I feel that many companies make in the screening process, is focusing to much on the technical skills of perspective hires and not enough on the emotional stability and personalities of those interviewees. Having said that however, I wish to offer the following observations as well:
I want to talk about the positives of passionate people. Rather than dwelling upon the negatives. It seems that in all the negatives that are pointed out about passionate people, we seldom focus upon the positives. I want the reader to take a moment and think about all the great inventions and endeavors that have been accomplished within their lifetime. How many of those could not have been accomplished had it not been for some passionate individual being the driving force behind them?
What does having passion, about anything, do to help you and others around you? First it gives you a boundless supply of energy to tackle the obstacles in your path. It provides you with the courage of conviction and drive necessary to get things done. It allows you to inspire others around you to do better than they would if left to their own volitions. It gives one the ability to see the vision and apply themselves to finding the tools and pathways to implement that vision.
People, sometimes, don’t understand the vision or the pathways to get there. They are all hung up on the methods. I have never seen any great endeavor or accomplishment that wasn’t fueled by or guided by some passionate person/individual, either in the forefront or in the background. It takes someone with a passion for the endeavor to lead or push others toward its goal. Your passion may be cloaked in ego or the desire to succeed or simply altruistic in it’s nature and idea driven, but it must exist.
Had a Henry Ford come to my company he would have been turned away! People like Asa G. Candler, founder and first president of Coca-Cola; Inventors like Albert Einstein, Jonus Salk, and George Washington Carver, on and on I could go. None of whom would have been hired. The golden rule about my point is that with, their qualifications not withstanding, these people would have still succeeded in life, because they had that inner passion! They would have spirited themselves on, in spite of the rest of us.
The point that I wish to make here is simply this: If you are a passionate person that tends to throw yourself into whatever you chose to be your life’s work, I suggest that you take a course on business and look into starting your own company. Be assiduously aware of how “others” perceive you and be attentive to that fact in your dealings with them.
If you are a business owner that is turning someone down for a job, because they appear to just be too passionate to blend into your corporate view of what a "team structure is", then think about it a bit before saying no. Could this person be just what the doctor ordered? A golden shot in the arm? It is certainly something to think about isn‘t it?
Over the years I have noticed a few reoccurring facts about businesses. Patterns that repeat. I would like to point out, just a couple to you. A successful company has a balanced approach to hiring and promotions from within the company. They seem to have grasp the fact that if they promote strictly from within the company they will never grow with the learned knowledge of others in their respective fields. However, if they don’t promote from within their company base enough they will lose the acquired experience learned along the way through trial and error and discovery. So the very best of companies find their balance. They have come to the understanding that promoting from within the company keeps the company fresh and vibrant. They, as well, understand that along with all that acquired knowledge comes systemic issues as well.
It’s a kind of double-edged sword. That is why it is so imperative to bring in someone from the outside that has not acquired any of the "bad habits" that come with being mired in a closed society for so many years. A fresh influx of understanding and a view from a different angle, if you will, on the subject. This is where one can interject some passion into the company. Passionate people do tend to take risks and have a tendency to boldly go where no one has gone before and yes, because of this, make a few mistakes along the way, as well. How was it put? Nothing ventured nothing gained. I would like to infuse a thought right here: "A mistake made from effort is excusable, but a mistake made from Laxity is in-excusable."
Employees that take on an overabundance of responsibilities and workload, far beyond that of the average employee, as well assume more opportunity for error and mistakes. The increased percentage of workload only naturally increases the opportunity for error. A good Manager understands this and makes his judgments accordingly. A passionate employee just naturally takes on more workload and has a far better attendance record, and therefore cannot be judged in the same manner as the lockstep employee.
They do need strong willed advisors around them to guide their passion. To supply the discipline they need to stay on course. Learning to be self-disciplined is, of course, the best scenario.
Lee Iacocca didn’t get where he is today by himself, but without his inner passion he would have been just another sales guy in a vast wasteland of sales guys. Starting with the Ford motor company in 1946 and then going to the Chrysler Corporation in 1978.
(Born,” Lido A. Iacocca”)
Lee is a prime example of how to use that inner passion to become successful in life. I am reminiscent of the story of how one day he found himself in the office of Henry Ford II (the second). Lee was attempting to win an argument about where the companies future should be headed and Henry Ford II, not feeling his passion at all, simply squelched the vision by looking out the window of his office and pointing to the water tower and saying to Lee “ who’s name is on that water tower Lee?“ Lee Iacocca left Ford motor company soon there after to pursue his passions elsewhere. He had a vision and the passion to pursue that vision and soon landed a job with the Chrysler Corporation. And the rest, as they say, is history.
He was quoted as saying this about managing, “ Management is nothing more than motivating other people. “ Motivating people! How do you do that? With having a confident and passionate vision and selling that vision to the employees. Showing DECISIVENESS! Knowing what needs to be accomplished from each individual to accomplish that goal.
I read a great quote that said, " Don't waste your time and energy trying to make all the right decisions, but rather invest you time in making the decisions that you make RIGHT!" .
The people will come up with the methods and planning. They will dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but without a passionate vision to guide them there is complacency and apathy.
“The two scourges of societies, whether business or cultural.”
If you limit yourself to just one facet of your being you deprive the world of your full value. Passion alone is not enough to see you through! You must have the capacity for self-discipline. The ability to control that passion and to guide it in a focused way toward your goal. What obstacles may you face in this quest? You may be confronted with an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, inattention to detail and varying degrees of sabotage. These attributes, in others, may hinder your progress. This is where your passion shall win the day. It will drive you to overcome these obstacles and push through to success.
The clearheaded thinker does not possess a myopic eye when it comes to his or her company. He/she takes the time to, at the very least, glean an understanding of how each dept. and indeed individual interacts within the company's structure. The key is to learn how “not to interfere” with those connections and interactions, but rather how to use them and streamline and enhance them to the advantage of the company. To only intervene or interject in a thoughtfull maner.
I think everyone should read the book “ Absolute Honesty” by Larry Johnson. In it he spells out how to build a company based upon honesty and trust. How to build a company that values straight talk and rewards integrity.
Please understand here that I am not saying that passion, for passion’s sake is terrific! It can be, if unguided or foolish, a horrible nightmare for co-workers. What I am saying is, if directed and channeled in a positive way, then it is a powerful force in business and in life. Without it life is just plain dull and time abiding.
How many times have I bore witness to exactly what Mr. Johnson points out in this book. He talks of applying the Six Laws of Absolute Honesty that will build trust and reduce the amount of dysfunctional family dynamics that consume people's energy and time. Short circuiting the "Kumbaya" syndrome so that people will speak their minds openly and honestly without fear of retribution. Using Constructive Confrontation to resolve differences of opinion and fix sticky problems quickly and without damaging relationships. Getting chronic whiners to stop sniveling and do something positive to fix the problems they whine about. Stopping "lipotage," where people give lip service to a decision and then sabotage the decision in discussions around the water cooler.
All of these understandings are accomplished only if one has the inner fortitude, i.e. passion, to attempt them. Disciplined passion is a force that is unstoppable! Find you inner force, your inner passion and use it to its fullest potential!
Managerial Bad habits
I knew this Plant manager that worked for my former company. He had been with the company twelve years and had started as a floor supervisor out in the plant. Once upon a time he was a "stick to it" kind of guy, but towards the end, I had taken notice of his increasingly poor work habits. Arriving late, taking long lunches and leaving early. It started gradually at first, but little by little over the last year or so, before the plant's closing, these habits seem to become more like some set of perceived earned management perks.
A team can't win if the quarterback is sitting on the sidelines admiring the footballs.
Managers need to be involved and seen in a positive role. Leaders need to be both seen as consistent and enlightened. Consistent in their demeanor and in the way that they treat and interact with their people and enlightened enough to be open to new ideas. If you are a manager, in decline, you may have lost sight of some of the things that made you successful in the first place. One of the most dangerous aspects of developing bad habits are that we usually don't recognize what we're doing until it's too late. They creep into our day-to-day routine and before we know it, they control us. If you see yourself in the list below, perhaps it's time for a management style makeover.
Bad Habit: You dislike your customers. If you hesitate to speak to customers, or begin to avoid your responsibilities. If you are impatient with questions, or unwilling to solve problems. If you physically deflate whenever someone approaches you with a problem to be solved? It won't be long before your employees will come to the understanding that you just don't give a shit! Then your work environment will begin to cascade into a downward spiral of problems. They will get the message that it is OK to treat their customers this way and follow suit. Remember, a customer is defined as anyone that you are responsible for and too. It can be your employee(s) or a superior or a person or persons that buy your goods or services. Anyone that you must interact with during the course of your duties. This behavior may come back to haunt you.
Employees usually follow a manager’s behavioral lead. In other words!
Shit rolls down hill and so does leadership.
The atmosphere that a manager creates is an essential part of the character of the company. If a manager creates an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, whereas, every time he or she walks out onto the plant floor the employees scramble to get away or hide, then that is not respect. THAT IS FEAR! It may serve to boast the manager’s ego, but does little to bolster the company. No valuable employee would do anything that he or she knows, with absolute certainty, his or her superior would disapprove of or fervently dis-allow.
There must be a clear understanding, as to parameters!
We all are aware of things that are done regularly that don’t always meet with the standard, stated practices of the company. They are done with the old proverbial “wink and a nod” from management. In the most overt cases this is done because, the individual(s) are pretty sure that they are not going to get caught or taken to task for doing so.
Translation: The boss is either, to lazy minded to catch them, or silently condones the action by looking the other way.
Having an atmosphere of trust and respect is far superior to fear and/or resentment.
Break the habit: Your understanding of the value of customers may be in need of a major overhaul. Take a refresher customer service class at a community college, find out what the latest perspectives are in the world of customer service, or perhaps your company has such a course. Perhaps there has been a paradigm shift in the way your company does business and you have missed out on it somewhere along the way. Write a list of reasons why customers and employees are important to you. For example: your company's success means you stay employed, hold onto your house or keep your car or, if applicable, allow you to make your alimony and child support payments or lease that hooker for those weekend getaways from the Mr./Mrs. WHATEVER!
Perhaps it guarantees that you can continue to send money to a charitable institution or tithing to a church. Whatever your needs are, remind yourself of what is truly important in your life.
Bad Habit: You abuse your power by abusing time. Do you hit the snooze button one extra time some mornings? Order one more cup of coffee / martini at lunch? Knock off at 4:45, citing traffic as a reason for "getting the heck out of there?" If these are your bad habits, you cannot expect employees to take you seriously when you question their 70 minute lunches, or write them up for arriving 15 minutes late or chatting around the water cooler for too long at a time. Set the example!
Break the habit: Perhaps these habits are the result of a professional rut you have gotten into. Start looking at advances you'd like to make within the company or in your career in general. If you have something to work toward again, a goal, a vision, you'll probably step up your game. Your new attitude, or passion, will be contagious and inspiring, especially if you get a promotion out of it. Challenge yourself with a new set of goals.
Bad Habit: You openly show your dislike of superiors. Perhaps you have been overloaded with assignments lately, or gotten chewed out by your boss. Maybe you just feel unappreciated overall. While you may find these things upsetting, that information is not something to share with those you manage. Employees who listen to your disrespect of upper management may develop an overall lack of respect for the chain of command, which for them, starts with you. So, bite your tongue and keep your focus on the important issues. Otherwise you may notice a change in the way your employees talk about you! Not a very enjoyable prospect is it? Try putting yourself in their shoes. How would you be any different?
Break the habit: You have a right to your feelings, but choose a better sounding board!!! Your spouse, friends or parents will let you vent without fear of backlash. Keep it between close friends and family. Always keep in mind that the people that work for and with you are constantly sizing both you and the situation up. Make sure that you are sending the "right" signals.
Bad Habit: You dress unprofessionally. In today's visual society, people feast with their eyes, talk with their hands and size you up by the way you dress and the words that you use. When you appear to not care about how you look, or speak, the perception will be that you don't care about yourself or much else, let alone them. Some employees may follow your example, causing you to come under fire for such a poor departmental image and performance. With the exception of casual (designated) days try to keep some semblance of a dress code while in the office. It should be dignified and respectful and of course professional. Read a dictionary for God's sake and try to rehearse a few pat answers to the most common questions. A thesaurus might come in handy as well! If out in the factory or shop, at the very least ,the dress code should be about clean and presentable dress attire. Even under the harshest of conditions a manager can ware jeans and a uniform shirt etc.
I know that showing an “overabundance” of cleavage in the office is the norm these days, but showing to much is a distraction. It sends the wrong message to your co-workers as well, and in some cases it is just plain un-tasteful. I suggest that keeping the neckline to a comfortable depth, so as to leave something to the imagination, is more appropriate for both the office and the workplace.
NO ATIRE THAT EXPOSES TOO MUCH OF THE GOODS, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Break the habit: If you don't think anyone is looking at you, or noticing do an experiment. Write down people's reactions to you on a "regular" day, Jot down their name and demeanor and how they address you. Then dress up the next day and note those results and compare the two. You'll be surprised at how much more seriously you're taken when you look the part. You don't have to over do it, just dress like the professional that you should, would or could be.
Bad Habit: You steal products/profits. Perhaps you have found a way to "get away with" a few items or dollars that the company doesn't notice. After all, you think your entitled right? Sort of your own private compensation package. I mean, why not, everyone else does it right? Graft and company theft is ramped and a crime that most look upon as harmless, but I assure you that it is not! When you steal from your company you steal from yourself, (in respect), and from every employee within the company. You harm your company and thus you harm everyone that is affiliated with said company. If your employees are aware they will begin doing it too. They will totally disregard you and your rules, knowing that they now have a powerful piece of information that can destroy your career and land you in jail. Does this even need explaining? Don't give in to mindless temptations.
Break the habit: Seek financial assistance. Non-profit credit agencies can help you manage your bills. You may need a second job. If it is not financial, consult a therapist to help you understand and change your behavior. Whatever the reason is you must STOP!
Bad Habit: Don’t “F” the help! You get too personal. Forming deeply personal or romantic relationships with your employees can cause other employees to resent co-workers they see as being privileged. Others may form similar relationships, which can be distracting at best, and at worst disastrous, If people begin covering for others poor work habits and mistakes, because of a personal relationship that they are having with the employee, it will cause jealousy and envy among your remaining employees. This is the single most ethical dilemma in the workplace. It will take strength of character to resist the temptation(s), but resist you must. If you do happen to fall in love with a fellow employee, you must recuse yourself, request a transfer or quit. Then you can enjoy the relationship to it's fullest potential. Worst-case scenario is if that person works under, over or in close daily proximity to you. You must disengage any connection with this employee if you wish to continue the liaison. One often overlooked problem is the employee grapevine. Gossip can effect your job performance, if you perceive that the person you are having the relationship with is having a relationship with another employee also, then you will not be able to stay focused on your job.
Break the habit: If you are seeking camaraderie, develop some team building activities, or reward outings that can be fun and even feel family-like. Get out and seek companionship elsewhere outside the company circles. In short don't have non-professional relationships at work! You must take stock of what is paramount in your life. Perhaps it is home, family, future, child's college fund, retirement etc. Whatever it is you must keep cognizant of the fact that cultivating these bad habits can cost you your dreams, your aspirations. Create an action plan and stay disciplined in achieving your goals in life. Above all be honest with yourself! Be ever vigilant! Watch out for the bad habits that try to creep into our day-to-day complacent minds.
People try to break the smoking habit, the overeating habit and even quit excessive drinking every day. Some researchers claim that you cannot break a long standing habit, but merely exchange it for/with another one. If that is the case, make sure that you substitute your bad habit with a good one! And while it may not be easy, it is always worth it! You will end up feeling better, looking better and inspiring those around them to do the same. Start recognizing and breaking your bad work habits for the health of your career, and start enjoying your success!
Break away from those things that are holding you down or back, even if they seem like little things at the moment. From small things big problems can grow. From small gestures great things can be accomplished! Best of luck. Form great habits now and sustain them throughout your life for success.