Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. A time to reflect the many sacrifices our military makes – the lives lost, the births missed, the homemade chocolate chip cookies dreamed about but not tasted. Our soldiers, past and present, make a type of sacrifice that compares to nothing else.
Despite these almost unthinkable things we freely ask soldiers for; at work we often hold back, afraid to “insist” for fear of disrupting the work place.
But let’s face it – if we can ask soldiers to miss tucking in their kids at night – we can certainly ask our workplaces, customers and partners for a few things that will make us more productive.
1. Thank Yous – Yes, Thank Yous (although I’m not at all sure Yous is a plural I should be using :)). Many of us have this silly notion that expecting acknowledgement for our hard work is arrogant and self-serving. Somehow we’re being noble if we go unrecognized for our efforts. I say HOGWASH. While the satisfaction for a job well done is the only real motivator for giving your all — it’s OK to expect a thank you. I’ll never forget several years ago I spent the first 3 months on a new job eating, breathing and sleeping our new small business product offering. The team rallied and delivered a really successful partner launch. The next day the executive sponsor for the product came to my office and went directly into demanding the next set of deliverables. I smiled and said “You’re Welcome”. After the slightly startled look came off his face he told me “you know how much I appreciate the work you did”. I looked him straight in the eye and said “Today is a day for thank you. I’m exhausted and the team needs 24 hours of celebration. Tomorrow, we talk about the next steps”. We shook hands and talked about the partner excitement we generated. And the next day — we went back to the grindstone. I felt better, my team felt appreciated and we were that much more focused on moving forward. Thank you means a lot- don’t be afraid to insist on it.
But don’t forget by expecting a proper Thank You, you must also be willing to give them out. Be generous but sincere with your gratitude.
2. Open Mind – Having an open mind doesn’t mean accepting your ideas without challenge, but it does mean giving you the opportunity to voice them and challenging you to drive them to be your best. Insist that your partners, management team, and co-workers keep an open mind or innovation won’t occur.
3. Honest Communications – Most modern organizations talk about transparency. But let’s face it, open communication isn’t always easy. Often we don’t like what we hear. Yet without truth you can’t improve. Demand open communication even when its hard.
4. Clear Expectations You know the old adage “when asked to Jump, say how high”. Despite the authoritarian implications of this saying – there’s an interesting truth to it.If you want to meet expectations you need to understand them. How high do you want me to jump? In fact, you should ask not only how high you need to jump, but where do you want to go? And why? If you understand the ultimate outcome you are trying to achieve you might just come up with a better approach. Let’s face it at 5 foot, no inches tall I’m not likely to reach much by jumping. BUT if I understand you want to reach the cookies on the top shelf – well then I’ll go find my 6 foot tall colleague down the hall and ask him to reach them. (This is my second cookie reference in just this one post – think that’s a sign I’m hungry?) What if instead of reaching treats you are asked to get 500 more leads — ask why? Am I trying to get to a certain revenue number? Or is there a new market segment we want to penetrate? Is a particular territory falling short of their forecast? Understanding the expectations behind the request will lead to a more effective outcome. After all, what good is 500 new small business leads when your company needed you to seed the health care market in preparation for an acquisition?
When it comes to appreciation, communication and expectation setting don’t be afraid to insist. Just don’t forget your please and thank yous! (and there’s that yous again).
Time for a cookie.