Yoda Didn’t Live on My Planet
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
Remember in Star Wars when Yoda said something to the effect that “There is no ‘Try’, only ‘Do’”?
Well I guess if you have supernatural powers and a light saber then that might be true. But on THIS planet, there is often a lot more trying then actually doing! In fact business experts say unless you are failing periodically, you aren’t trying hard enough. So setting lofty goals is a good thing, right?
Yes but failing a lot may earn you a reputation for not delivering on your promises.
The more I talk with people in business about what qualities they want to see in their employees, the more I hear the phrase “Do what you say you will do”.
From engineering staffs to marketing teams, making things happen - - - key things and minor things - - - seems to be an increasingly important ability when HR departments look at potential hires. How do you do this? How do you build a reputation for reliability?
1. Be very reluctant to agree to do things in the first place. Since your word is your bond, don’t give your word easily. Instead of saying “I’ll make so-and-so happen by the end of next month” when you have no idea how you’ll actually make that happen, say instead “I’ll push hard to make that happen and it depends on our ability to get X and Y here parts in time” or just say “That is high risk but we will try it.”
2. Be an ACE - - - Always Control Expectations. If a task is going to be especially difficult make sure key people know it, for two main reasons: a) You want them to know that the probability of success is low so they are not automatically counting on your success and are, instead, preparing back-up plans b) you may need resources in order to be successful and they can help you get them.
Here is how you DON’T build a solid reputation for reliably making things happen:
1. You don’t cherry-pick only those jobs that you know you can do, finding ways to reject/avoid all the others. This will get you branded as a primadonna interested more in your corporate image than in the work of the enterprise.
2. And you don’t play the blame game, finding ways to blame other people (coworkers, managers, suppliers, etc.) time after time when you are unable to complete assigned tasks on time.
"As a boss, if people on your team are signing up for tough jobs and then unable to complete them on time, a process (or several) is probably broken."
Your forecasting process for sales may be unrealistic; your supply chain might be unreliable and impacting your deliverables; your project managers are not properly assessing risks and developing work-around plans. Whatever is causing the problem, get a Tiger Team to tackle it.
They should dig until they find the root causes, no matter how politically painful, and then provide you with options and a recommendation to fix the problem.
This has the additional benefits of forcing people to adopt a mindset of continuous improvement, helping teams become more self-directed and showing everyone that management wants solutions brought to the table whenever a problem surfaces. Find a problem? Good. Bring some possible solutions (options for management) and a recommendation. That last point, making a recommendation, forces people to take a stand and suggest a course of action. Such assertive action, taking a public stand on something, builds character. Managers always watch to see who does this - - - they are almost always the future managers and leaders for the enterprise.