Rocks in the Canoe

(Image Courtesy of Imagekind)

We either build or inherit organizations. Either we started it from scratch, or we came into the organization once formed.

The organization is intended to move forward, presumably in an efficient, smooth, and relatively safe way: Like a Canoe. (Work with me here.)

You want your Canoe (organization) to get to the destination with ease of effort and maybe even enjoyment along the way.

You are trying to paddle your Canoe forward.

You are probably good at watching for rocks outside of your Canoe.

But there is a problem.

There is resistance.

Things are sluggish.

Instead of focusing outside, you look inside.

There are Rocks in the Canoe.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are employees who are not buying into the change of direction, strategy, or approach.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are rules and procedures that are working against your customers.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are having the wrong people doing the wrong jobs.

Some Rocks in the Canoe are distractions and procrastinations that move us away from our goals.

You didn’t notice it at first. Slowly those Rocks in the Canoe began to add up.

Maybe you have been spending so much time focusing on avoiding the rocks in the river, that you failed to notice the Rocks in the Canoe.

Your Canoe is heavy and weighed down.

Your Canoe is slow and sluggish.

Your Canoe is hovering dangerously close to the waterline.

Can you see the Rocks in the Canoe now?

The Rocks in the Canoe didn’t get there all at once. Some rocks started as pebbles, and seemed to grow over time. Some rocks were there when you first got into your Canoe, and you may not have noticed.

The Rocks in the Canoe need to go.

But, your Canoe may not respond well to quick motion and disruption.

Your Canoe may be a little wobbly.

It is important to keep your balance and not overturn or sink while removing the Rocks in the Canoe.

If you stand up and immediately start throwing rocks, you may tip over or crash.

Maybe we can learn from how the Rocks in the Canoe got there in the first place.

The rocks didn’t show up all at once, and our job is the methodically remove the Rocks in the Canoe.

Imagine what your Canoe could do if it wasn’t so weighed down.

P.S. Don’t be afraid of your competition picking up your rocks. If they want to put your rocks in their Canoe, let them. As you are moving quickly forward, they may be slowing down and not even realizing the cause.

Change, Loss, and Resistance

“They have a new building, a new workplace, but there is resistance, and I do not understand why they are not embracing the change.”

In other words, “hey we invested in a new building, a new space, and they should be happy!”

There was more than a building change.

A lot changed.

We talk more about the new building, the new workplace.

We learn that there were other changes.

They used to work together, now they are alone.

They used to have space to connect as a team, now there is isolation.

They used to be comfortable and a little distant from the direct issues, now they are directly in the middle of the problem.

All this change may be a better way.

All this change may be beneficial for the job.

All this change may workout in the long-term.

Now we can understand the resistance.

Now we can understand the disruption the new building caused.

Now we can understand the loss of connection with the team.

There is a great quote about change.

“Change is a form of loss. 

You need to let people grieve it.”

The resistance is grieving a loss.

The resistance is trying to adjust to the loss of team.

The resistance is getting used to working alone.

We need to understand that the change (even if that change is ultimately good) can also create a loss.

We may need to be patient while they grieve.

We may need to understand and recognize the resistance.

We may need to provide support in the process.

We will need to explain why this change is important, and acknowledge the loss.

We may need to explain it again.

We may need to provide more support than we imagined.

We may have caused other issues that we didn’t intend.

Change: It is much harder to manage than we may have guessed.

Treat Them Well

Treat them well.

Who?

Your employees.

Why?

There are a few reasons.

Reason One: Well treated employees are more productive, engaged, treat customers better, and will contribute to your bottom line. Employees (the right ones of course) are great assets who provide service, innovate, invent, and create.

Reason One is the “right” thing to do, but somethings are interfering with it.

This is not a complete list, but here are a few interference observations.

The Recession. The fears associated with economic decline cause a retreating, and no or low investment in people. Years go by, and despite economic improvement, the pattern of retreat and non-investment continues.

Old Patterns and Mindsets. Recognizing only a certain type of employee performance or style. Thinking that employees are “lucky to have a job” or “don’t have the same work ethic as we did.” Having benefits structured in a way that access to them requires long periods of service. These patterns sometimes go unnoticed by those in the pattern, but have negative results on current employees.

The Incumbent Bargain. Not realizing that the person holding the job today is well below market price. Through a series of decisions (see other observations for insight) you may be completely unaware of the current one-sided deal you are getting.

On to the other reasons (as if Reason One wasn’t enough).

Reason Two: Unemployment rates have been steadily declining. When I assist organizations trying to find talent, it feels more like trying to pan for gold, long after the gold rush has moved on. With rates below 3% in my own State, essentially there is almost no-one left, and other companies are going to start stealing your talented employees.

Reason Three: The Old Patterns and Mindsets not only create dissatisfaction with current employees (essentially incentivizing them to look elsewhere) but also position your organization at a disadvantage to attract new talent. You may find your organization is in a death-spiral of employees leaving and no easy way to replace them.

Reason Four: It is going to cost you if you have not been attentive to the market shifting around you. If the Incumbent Bargain is not on your radar screen, you may be surprised what it will cost you to replace your experienced and knowledgeable employees. More and more today I hear “we are going to have to pay what?” when it comes to replacing existing employees. The “you are lucky to have a job” may soon be replaced with “you are lucky to still have me” dialogue.

Whatever reason you choose Treat Them Well, you may be surprised if you don’t.