Five Myths of Professional Advancement
For the next few weeks, I've decided to take my first shot at writing a series of blogs dedicated to a better understanding of the five negative mindsets or myths I believe many of us succumb to when attempting to move up in the ole corporate ladder. Personally, I feel these can apply to anyone, at any time. With that said, I issue this prediction, “Put into practice any one of these mindsets - whether in the corporate world or private business - and the big wheels of promotion will grind slowly to a stop!"
Myth #1 - Don’t outrun the Bear, just outrun the other Hunters!
Myth #2 - The Blind Squirrel Syndrome!
Myth #3 - His is Bigger than Mine!
Myth #4 - Entitlement…Breakfast of those Championing Failure!
Myth #5 - My Boss is Stupid!
Let’s explore Myth #1…. Don’t outrun the Bear, just outrun the other Hunters!
A common misconception about advancement at all levels of business is the concept of competition. Don’t get me wrong, competition can be a good thing but when applied incorrectly, it can also be devastating. When working in a multi-unit operation, the results of one restaurant or department can be stacked or ranked against the results of others within the business family. In this particular analogy, the BEAR is either the boss or the person driving the fear behind poor results. The HUNTERS are the restaurants or departments within the group that find themselves in competition with each other to avoid being eaten by the angry, slathering BEAR. In this competition format, as stress begins to build with deadlines fast approaching, there are a few HUNTERS at the top of the list well beyond the reach of the dreaded BEAR. Lucky them! The HUNTERS near the bottom, closest to the BEAR, begin to get worried because, of course, they are fixin’ to be mauled and eaten. And, none of the HUNTERS have been properly equipped with a gun capable of taking out the BEAR! So, what happens when all the HUNTERS come face to face with that angry BEAR and have to avoid being eaten….?
- Pressure begins to dominate the situation and the HUNTERS go on the defensive. It should be about performing better and achieving the results not about battling to stay alive. They grab sticks, rocks, and even other HUNTERS in preparation for a fight to the death!
- Some will "play dead." The attitude is, “I am so far behind. The BEAR is going to catch me. Maybe, if I play dead, he'll eat someone else.” The outcome here - no more results for the business. As a matter of fact, performance ceases!
- Values disappear. Lying, cheating, stealing - anything to avoid being eaten…and you know what happens when integrity goes out the window!
- The HUNTERS that get out of the woods first will feel either guilty or become arrogant. Either way, they don’t realize that the most important issue is that they allowed one of their fellow HUNTERS to be eaten! Where is the teamwork?
The worst part of it all is that the BEAR finally attacks, eats someone, and everyone sees it happening. It's not a pretty sight and the vicious cycle commences again as the HUNTERS begin their next journey into the woods hoping to get the BEAR this time. Of course, they never get the BEAR. He just eats more HUNTERS and everyone lives with the knowledge that he could be next. How depressing is that?!
So, as the leader in your organization, or one of the top performing HUNTERS, how can you overcome this Advancement Myth?
1. If you are a great HUNTER, you have a values based obligation to get all of the other HUNTERS out of the woods safely. No one gets left behind. If another one of your coworkers or sister businesses is behind jump in and help them. Hell, distract the damn BEAR with your awesome hunting prowess for a minute if it means everyone gets to safety. Ever see a rodeo clown in action?
2. As the leader, identify the common enemy - the BEAR - and communicate daily, weekly, monthly - whatever it takes - to avoid the snarling beast.
3. Now for the most important step… GET A GUN! How do you do that you ask? Well, the GUN in this story is the result you were all supposed to get to begin with. Was it a profit number, a sales number, a behavior change? Every HUNTER has to find a way to get to the total result so that all can avoid being mauled and eaten. The BEAR only attacks if the group doesn’t achieve the end result.
Leaders (HUNTERS), find a way to get everyone to safety! Remember, no one wins until everyone wins! If you are the only one left standing in the end, there may not be a business left either, so what's the point? Develop, teach, coach, inspire.
There is only one BEAR…..and there are always lots of HUNTERS!
Next week – The Blind Squirrel Syndrome