|Music to read by:
Business is tough today. More pressure to be successful. More scrutiny on the bottom line. More demands for increases to the top line. It’s tough to be an employee these days.
It’s tough to be a manager too.
As a manager, keeping your job in these difficult times probably means being a bit more focused on your employees – and more focused on making sure they don’t make mistakes. No one likes to be on the agenda at the next Executive meeting on mahogany row.
Unfortunately, paying too close attention and micro-managing to avoid errors means in the long-term you’ll be in worse shape.
Employees (and you can count yourself in that category too) need and want to take part in difficult challenges. Even challenges that may result in failure. In fact, given the choice most employees will choose a more challenging activity by a wide margin even if the chance of failure is much greater.
A recent post on LinkedIn (must be a member of LinkedIn to see post) highlighted a study whereby people were given the choice of taking shots in a shuffleboard type game from easy, moderate and difficult distances. The odds of making the shot decreased with the increase in the difficulty level. In the study, the majority (that’s 51% or more regardless of what our Congress thinks) chose the most difficult level where there was only a 2% chance of success.
Now, granted this isn’t real-world and those people aren’t going to get fired for not scoring well but it does show that we are hard-wired to want to stretch for success. We, as humans, like to take on challenges. It is one of the ways we increase our skill levels get better at our jobs and ultimately – add more value to the organization.
To pull directly from the post:
To grow, people need to be challenged. Research at the Center for Creative Leadership shows that challenges—including having to work on unfamiliar tasks, lead change under uncertainty and exercise influence without authority—are important predictors of learning and development on the job. And three decades of evidence reveals that people achieve higher performance when they are given difficult goals. Difficult goals motivate people to work harder and smarter, develop their knowledge and skills, and test out different task strategies, all of which facilitate effectiveness and growth.
Your challenge as an employee is to accept challenges.
Your challenge as a manager is to assign them.
Grow yourself and grow your team by raising the bar.
Now is not the time to shrink from doing the great stuff you and your team are capable of. Now is the time to break through and do the things no one thinks you can.
Remember – part of the process is to validate the effort, recognize those that accept the challenge even if the outcome isn’t 100% successful.
Go be remarkable and build a remarkable team.