How Far Can You See?
In our last post, we discussed the importance of adaptability to changing times in order to be relevant in the future. Few would argue with that proposition. The challenge however is recognizing when the season of change has arrived. There is a place for tradition, and we all need points of stability or our lives (and businesses) tend to be chaotic and productivity doesn’t reach its full potential.
At the Critical Doer, we believe theory has to be put into practice to have value. I’m going to offer you a path to practical application when it comes to dealing specifically with people who are ready to grow beyond their current circumstances.
To get an insight to what’s really going on with people, you need to train your ear to pick up the meaning of the questions they ask even more than the statements they make. It’s particularly true when people have ambitions and are still sorting out how to communicate them. Train your ear for these three questions, the underlying meaning, and how you should take a cue from them to consider changing the times before they change you:
- Why are we doing that? To some, that question can be an annoyance. But if you’re listening for the substantial rather than the superficial, someone is telling you they have thoughts about how an activity fits within the context of something larger. People who ask this question may have management potential that you should explore and nurture before the talent leaves you for an opportunity with a competitor.
- How does that work? The underlying message of this question shows an interest in process. Taking time to explain how something works can unleash a talent for process that could turn into a competitive edge for your company. Failing to recognize and develop those with an interest and talent in process is a tacit decision to concede a competitive edge and there is no future in it.
- Do you think I can do that one day? The irony of this question is that for it to be verbalized, a person already believes at some level that they can. Although you may hear the words “do you think I can do that one day” what’s really being said is “I believe I can do that one day, I’m ready for an opportunity, I’d like to do it here if you’ll mentor me, but I’ll go somewhere else if you won’t.” Don’t underestimate how short your timeline to react is when you hear this question. Mentor without delay to keep an ambitious and talented person with you rather than letting talent go to a competitor where they gain a generational advantage that could have been yours.
Your challenge is to recognize that your people are quite often asking questions that indicate the winds of change are blowing. Change happens individually as well as organizationally. Listen for the questions that indicate people are ready to grow so you can lead change and stay relevant well into the future. That’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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