A speaker in a conference I was watching online in a DistruptHR event talked about the different levels of teaching that takes place for employees. When I graduated from college with a BS degree in business and started my first job, I had to be trained on what was expected and had to learn the operations. Organizations worldwide hire employees who have been taught and educated in school. Once hired, the same employees are taught and trained how to do the job for which they have been hired. In almost every occupation this is the case. Those who graduate in software engineering or programming know code and kernel level development, but they still need to learn the applications utilized by companies to be productive. Those who graduate in accounting still need to learn the organization’s accounting system and reporting mechanisms. Medical professionals go through extensive training after college or graduate school before they are ready. I could give many other examples, but suffice it to say, in almost every occupation and profession an employee must be taught or trained to contribute.
I say “almost” every occupation and profession because the exception is teachers. Most education majors who attend a reputable college or university are required to spend significant time in an early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school classroom. The students are not just present, they are active in teaching students while a student. Education majors could walk across the stage at graduation, receive their diploma, and step right into a classroom and be immediately productive. Many education majors, like my daughter graduating from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, have already been developing and presenting lesson plans. She has been observing, working, and teaching in the classroom since she was a Freshman.
Imagine the value of an employee in any industry with this ability. Day 1 they are ready to do the job without additional training. Training costs would be slashed. Profitability would soar. The learning curve would be miniscule. The economic impact would be in the billions of dollars.
Our teachers have been prepared to create immediate value. But how do we in the US treat this incredible resource? We under pay and overwork them. We create work environments filled with politics that have nothing to do with educating children. We make them beg and borrow just to get financial resources to purchase supplies for the classroom. In many cases the teacher pays for these supplies out of their own pocket. We treat one of the most important professions a person can pursue as one that is less important than most. I think it is shameful.
My daughter chose her education path because, from a very young age, she wanted to teach and help young people learn. She never imagined doing anything else. She will graduate with high honors in May and a school will be incredibly fortunate to get her skills, dedication, and passion. Many students do not consider education in college because of the reasons above. It is time for us to get mad. It is time for us to demand that a system be created that attracts the best and the brightest and produces a product anyone would want to buy. It is way past time that we take education seriously and make it a priority. And if you think teaching is easy, just go spend a day in a school and see what the job is really all about.
Know a teacher? Thank that person for their commitment to selfless service. If you are teacher and are reading this: THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!
To Your Success!
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
As a Baby Boomer, my high school years in the 1970’s consisted of listening to the best rock and roll bands of all time. The classic music of numerous groups has survived a couple of generations and many Millennials (including my kids) are fans of some of the great ones. I never thought I would use one of these groups and one of the greatest songs in an article about talent management. But after conversations with my wife and several friends this past week, it just popped into my head. The first two lines of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Ah, I hear you singing it now! I am hopeful that my little explanation will make sense when I am finished.
My entire business life is focused on talent management. The tag line for my business is “We help companies bring out the BEST in their employees”. It might seem kind of weird to some, but it is a passion of mine. I dream of business cultures and environments where we wake up in the morning excited to come to work. Not that we don’t want to spend time with family and chill from time to time, but we are inspired everyday by our co-workers, supervisors, managers, and business leaders. Those with whom we work make us better people and we are motivated to work as hard as we can toward success of ourselves, those with whom we work, and the company. Every day we work toward our PIPability-Peak Individual Performance™.
My wife and I talked about my dream for the worker world and she commented that she does not think it is possible. She opined that the work itself creates a myriad of obstacles that impacts how we think about our work regardless of the nature of the work environment. She said “it is nice to think about and a good goal to pursue, but in reality, it will never be like that”.
Then, in a weekly social gathering with college classmates, we discussed the work environment in which they spend their time. They talked about leaders who don’t lead, work that doesn’t get done, and behaviors toward other people that are negative and punitive. After providing me numerous examples of what I call “management maleficence”, the bottom line was stated bluntly; “people just don’t care”.
So, I find myself wondering, “do I live in a dream world?” Can a work environment be created where everyone is inspired, motivated, happy, encouraged, driven, and working toward the good of all and not just themselves? I still say “YES!!”
A business owner I met a few months ago, said that their daily goal is to “delight and surprise their internal and external customers”. I believe the environment and culture at his company is close to my perspective of what is possible. When expectations are clearly communicated; when supervisors, managers, and leaders are providing all the tools and resources to help all be successful; when feedback is constant; when all understand that accountability must exist for success; and when consequences are fair, consistent, and transparent, a business will thrive. I guess I will leave it up to you. “Is this the real life” or “Is this just fantasy”?
To Your Success!
Richard Davis, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
The Princess Bride is an entertaining fairy tale for young and old that was directed by Rob Reiner and released in 1987 by Twentieth Century Fox. If you have not seen it, you are missing a very fun and funny movie. The production featured a giant, a fire swamp, lightning sand, rodents of unusual size (R.O.U.S.’s), and The Cliffs of Insanity. Throw in a six finger man and a priest with a lisp and you have the makings of a classic.
In the movie, Princess Buttercup is amazed that her sweet Westley is still alive after being captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts on the open seas; “And the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners”. Westley later explains that he is now the Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) and that the previous DPR was not the original one either. As a way of keeping the name DPR alive, each DPR would choose an understudy, replace the entire crew, and begin a new voyage as the first mate of the new DPR. If that is not clear, watch the movie.
Since I am a talent management consultant, I guess I need to tie The Princess Bride into some kind of management lesson. Well, in working with many business owners, leaders, and managers, I have heard the expression often “Gosh, it would be so much easier if I could just replace everyone and start all over”. It might work for the DPR, but it certainly would not work for most business operations.
Recently, I was at a swim meet for my youngest son and had the opportunity to speak with a couple of fathers who happen to be business owners. We were taking a break from the action in the pool and catching each other up on what was happening in our individual business worlds. One of the dads was expressing gratitude for being busy, but began talking about some employee issues. Specifically, he mentioned a former business owner who was on his team. He talked about how this individual was alienating other employees and was a negative element in the business environment. After detailing some of the employee’s performance and behavior issues, he said “I just don’t think he is going to make it”. I could not let it go and asked “have you sat down with the gentleman, reviewed the specific performance and behavior issues, and developed a plan to help him improve?” The response was what I hear often. “No, I have not”. I then asked if he was aware of any personal issues in this gentleman’s life that could be impacting his performance or behavior. The response was “No, I do not”.
My friend’s responses are the equivalent of just replacing the whole crew. I am confident that this business owner wants to help this individual, but the business is booming and he is busy taking care of the tactical steps to success. It is not that he does not care. He has other employees that also need his time and attention. Taking the time to develop a performance management plan for someone who seems not to care does not seem like the top priority in the midst of just getting the job done and satisfying clients. But shouldn’t it be THE top priority?
Imagine for a moment a work force comprised of employees who come to work every day fully engaged, enthusiastic, excited, and motivated to do the best job they can and to reach their full potential….their full PIPability-Peak Individual Performance™. I am passionate about helping companies bring out the best in their employees and I do not think it is a Utopia that is out of reach. I mean, if the employees in an organization are the most important asset, then why is this asset not treated with the care and attention to maximize the potential?
It takes a willingness to discover the root cause of a specific behavior or performance issue and then develop a plan to help the employee improve. It requires us to show patience, have compassion, display empathy, and gain understanding. It requires a human approach to managing others, not a tactical approach.
Does it always work? No, we have all experienced employees who just don’t want to meet expectations. But if you have ever experienced working with an employee who is not meeting expectations and then helped them transform in to a top performer, the incredible feeling will never leave you. Human potential is amazing and it is just waiting to be unleashed. Once you tap the potential, great things happen and a business can soar. Wouldn’t that be fun….and you don’t have to worry about pirates!
To your success,
Several years ago I was on a Boy Scout camp out with one of my sons. It was a base camp located on a large plantation and there was plenty of time to explore the property. I was walking with a couple of other parents enjoying great conversation when I came across a rock about the size and shape of a potato. I stopped, picked it up, and carried it back to the camp. I can’t explain why, but something told me to keep the rock and I put it in my car to take home. When my son and I returned home after the weekend my wife asked about the rock and why I brought it home. I told her that I really did not know, but for some reason felt led to do so. I brought the rock to my office the next Monday and put it on my credenza.
A couple of days later I received an email from my mom with a story attached. Now I have to be honest, that most of the emails of this kind I used to get from mom were quickly deleted. For some reason, I read the email and it hit me like a ton of bricks…or a rock…why I had brought the rock back from the camping trip. The story in the email is as follows:
There once was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and God appeared to him. God told him He had a work for him to do, and showed him a large rock explaining that he was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, and for many days he toiled from sunup to sundown; his shoulder set squarely against the cold massive surface of the rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling his whole day had been spent in vain.
Seeing that the man showed signs of discouragement, others, you can call them a naysayers or that negative person in your life, decided to enter the picture – placing thoughts in the man’s mind, such as “Why kill yourself over this?, you’re never going to move it!” or “Boy, you’ve been at it a long time and you haven’t even scratched the surface!” This gave the man the impression the task was impossible and the man was an unworthy servant because he wasn’t moving the massive stone.
These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man and he started to ease up in his efforts. “Why kill myself?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time putting forth just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And this he did or at least planned on doing until, one day, he decided to take his troubles to the Lord.
“Lord,” he said, “I have labored hard and long in Your service, putting forth all my strength to do that which You have asked of me. Yet after all this time, I have not even budged that rock even half an inch. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”
To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you to push against the rock with all your strength and that you have done. But never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. At least not by yourself. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed, ready to quit. But is this really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your ability now far surpasses that which you used to have. Yet still, you haven’t succeeded in moving the rock; and you come to Me now with a heavy heart and your strength spent. I, my friend will move the rock. Your calling was to be obedient and push, and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom, and this you have done.”
That story spoke to me and reminded me that no one goes through life without struggles of some sort. Very few people live their life without obstacles or barriers that get in the way of accomplishing something or keeping us from being the best we can be. And, as hard as we try to protect and prepare, our kids won’t go through life without struggles either. It is easy to have a pity party and exclaim “why is this happening to me”? or “it isn’t fair?” Yes, we can view adversity this way and become a perpetual victim, or we can recognize these bumps (sometimes mountains) in the road as opportunities to grow and become much stronger and resilient.
As parents, it is tempting to try and remove all the rocks from the paths our children will take. We justify it by saying that we don’t want them to make the same mistakes we did or that maybe it will be too much for them. As hard as it is, we have to let nature take its course and understand that the struggles, difficulties, mistakes, heart aches, etc. are all part of the process that makes us stronger. The same thing applies to those who manage other people in the workforce. Our role, as parents, teachers, leaders, managers, and mentors, is to always be there with support, understanding, and a strong shoulder. Even in difficult times, those around us should know without a doubt that they are not alone.
It is not easy. We see others who seem to have success handed to them. We see others who always seem happy as if they don’t have a trouble in the world. It could be that they have pushed their share of rocks and have become much stronger to more easily overcome those events and situations that make others cave.
That rock still sits on my desk. Although I may forget about it from time to time, it only takes a glance to remember why it is there. I need the reminder often that moving forward involves three different terrains….level, downhill, and uphill.
When you get that feeling that you can’t take any more or that everything is stacked against you, try and remember that you are in no place that others have not held before. When you face your rock, you have a choice. You can take a “woe is me” attitude or you can keep pushing knowing that with every physical exertion, you get stronger. The choice is yours.
To your success,