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People Lazy or Exhausted? #105 5-25-10

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Sat, Mar 29, 2014

Question:  I can’t get my people to follow the systems I’ve designed.  I think they are just plain lazy.  How can I tell whether or not they’re lazy or if there’s something wrong with the system I’m asking them to follow?

Answer: As an E-Myth coach we learned the first place to look is your system.  The book Switch by Dan and Pat Heath reinforced this with an emphasis on what looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.  It’s a new take on an old E-Myth coaching philosophy that every frustration is due to the lack of a system. 

Further evidence of this paradigm lies in the research Switch provides on how test subjects wear out when they are required to use high levels of discipline.  Self-control they discovered is an exhaustible resource.  The longer they use their discipline the less likely they are to be able to respond when they are in a stressful situation. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your people managing the impression they are trying to make on others? [Here’s another good reason to hire people for their strengths, people who don’t exhibit strengths in influencing others will wear out sooner in a job that demands them to.]
  • Are your people coping with fears with the changes you’ve made to your system?  [Consequences like possibly losing their job could increase their level of self-control and exhaust them faster.]
  • Are they required to control spending or watch carefully that they don’t expend resources unnecessarily?  [I’ve found that businesses that are under severe financial constraints get exhausted faster and fail to concentrate on building their business.  They’re in a position of severe self-control.]
  • Are they trying to focus on the opposite of what they should be producing?  “Don’t make a mistake, philosophy.”

If you’ve changed a system after your people have been accustomed to performing it a certain way you will find it takes time to establish new patterns.  Getting upset or placing further consequences probably will increase the pattern you are seeing and confirm your suspicion that they are simply lazy.  Instead they are exhausted. 

The bigger the change you’ve suggested the more it saps their self-control.  When you change things you are tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires supervision by what Switch describes as the “Rider.”

When your people exhaust their self-control they’re exhausting the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus to inhibit impulses and persist due to frustration or failure. 

Looking for the bright spots [Switch] or conducting Appreciative Inquiry may be difficult to do especially when you’ve invested a lot of time and energy to improve a system.  However it can help build your teams confidence and give them the support they need to carry on and overcome the exhaustion that is preventing them from achieving success.

Here are the steps Dan and Chip Heath describe to Shape the Rider in their book Switch:describe the image

FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS. Investigate what’s working and clone it.

SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.

POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.

It could be you’ve also been using negative reinforcement to direct your employees versus positive reinforcement.  If so you need to review your practices and consider the difference between how you manage.   A good look into this is provided in my blog Positive and Negative Reinforcement – Oops [From Aubrey Daniels book Bringing out the Best in People.]

Effective leaders are able to recognize human nature.  It is easy to blame your people.  They may be the culprit. You can exhaust a great deal of energy and spend a great deal of money chasing symptom.  Focus first on the situation or system.  Make sure you’ve gotten to the core of your issue before you begin changing people. 


Topics: employee performance, People, People Decisions, Switch, change, Aubrey Daniels

Missing Ingredient:Training & Education (#1-28-14) Newsletter #149

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jan 27, 2014

Education resized 600Positioning Systems and Gazelles coaches work with thousands of mid-market Growth companies from all over the world.  Top performers commit to 3 key disciplines (habits) that both differentiate them AND lead to their consistent success: #1 They consistently apply the Four Decisions content and tools to their daily operational routines; #2 They build into their leaders’ schedules a regular, ongoing commitment to executive education (learning); and #3 They develop and utilize an ongoing accountability relationship with an outside, independent business Coach.  In this newsletter we look at why training and education is so critical to growing your business: 

Michael Dell is a great example of ongoing Executive learning and education to provide Dell a competitive edge in the PC market. Michael’s quote sums it all up…”Start with smart executives and then keep them smart.

Any mid-size business that wants to be successful recognizes and applies the principles of training and education to their staff. Leadership succession, growth, and competitive edge come from growing the people in your business.  Learning today is one competitive advantage that keeps your business sharp, insures progressive improvement, breeding a culture where knowledge and action produce dynamic results.

One of my clients, Fleck Sales, a beer distributor, takes growing and educating its people seriously.  The beer industry is extremely competitive.  Craft Brands have introduced new competitive pressures and expanded SKU’s complicating and increasing inventory, turns, and obscuring the retailer’s decision-making on what products to carry.  In addition recent trends to sweeter alcoholic beverages put increased competitive pressure to improve last year’s numbers and increase market share.

It’s critical that their sales, merchandising, and delivery people have knowledge of the increasing number of brands they carry to help their retailers make the right choices to improve their bottom line and revenues.

Their distributor Miller Coors provides excellent resources for training and education.  Yet these tools are

worthless if they are not resourced and utilized by their staff.  Fleck Sales recently embarked on developing training programs not just for entering employees, but mandating each supervisor require a specific designation of courses to be completed by each employee dependent upon their experience and development level. 

Several of the staff has already truly embraced the opportunity to learn.  Can you guess where these people are headed in the development of their careers at Fleck Sales? 

With the number of selections now available with the emerging Craft Brands, Fleck recently required all of their sales staff to be tested to earn the ascending titles of Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone. 

The practice of learning and education is continuous in this organization.  Monthly leadership meetings frequently conclude with the CEO providing a learning and education element.

Too many businesses profess conviction to training and education, yet fail to practice it in action.

Monthly and Quarterly Meetings utilizing Positioning Systems and Gazelles meeting rhythms process embrace and implicitly respond to this fundamental practice.  Learning and Education should be a critical part of your Strategic Learning process.

Have you experienced the disappointment of hiring a candidate whom you felt had great potential to succeed in your business, yet never realized their potential?

Perhaps the fault is your businesses inability to provide them with a path to follow to unleash their possibilities through training and education.   There’s nothing worse than failing to provide development to someone who is yearning to release their capabilities!

What restrains your business from providing the training and education your people can benefit from? 

For a limited time Positioning Systems with the help of Gazelles Growth Institute is providing our readers with several free learning courses as a gift to you.

Outlearn your competition, click here to select a class including:

Patrick Lencioni’s - The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Liz Wiseman’s - Multipliers

Seth Godin’s - Purple Cow

Jack Stack’s - The Great Game of Business

Fred Reichheld - The Ultimate Question 2.0

Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s - Who: The A Method for Hiring

Sign up for free and choose from these selections to present to your staff at your next leadership meeting. 

Positioning Systems is committed to helping our clients have the best people through providing top thought leadership and best practices to our clients.  Learn how you can improve your staff’s performance through education and training by selecting a class to develop your people now.   This is our gift to you.  Do something about it NOW!

Topics: quarterly meetings, Strategic Discipline, People, Training, monthly meetings


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