I love the wisdom and insightfulness of Seth Godin. His blogs are often deceptively brief but captured in a few words are thought provoking ideas. Take the one he posted, “Beyond Showing Up” on January 28, 2013. He challenged the notion that just being at work and performing the basics, doing only what is expected, is good enough. He suggested that, “Your job is to surprise and delight and to change the agenda. Your job is to escalate, reset expectations and make us delighted that you are part of the team.”
Wow. Are your co-workers delighted that you’re a part of the team? That’s a little bit more than just recognizing you without your name tag. What about when you’re dealing with change, maybe selecting or implementing a new Accounts Receivable system? Does your team consider you a Delighter or are you an Albatross during that process? Maybe you’re somewhere in between? So, what’s the difference and how can you become a Delighter?
It starts with attitude. An Albatross seems to take pleasure from seeing how many things she can find wrong with an idea or solution. You can almost see the tally marks above her head. Yet, she never offers an alternative solution or maybe even a valid reason “why not”. It’s easier just to criticize and complain about what’s not working right. An Albatross can drain the energy from the room faster than pulling the plug on a plastic inner tube, leaving everyone deflated and unmotivated.
On the other hand, a Delighter approaches things with an attitude of openness and curiosity. He’s not blindly content with the status quo but is open to new ideas, actively listening, and asking questions with the genuine intent of understanding further before coming to an informed opinion. He builds on good ideas to make them even better and inspires others to do the same. There is no pride of ownership but rather a collaborative pride of success as Delighters know that the best ideas come from joint minds. During the change process, a Delighter escalates the urgency around solving the problem and resets expectations by creating a vision and helping everyone get there.
Underlying everything, a Delighter has a respect for people. It takes respect to listen openly without judgment whether that be to new ideas, getting feedback on what concerns people about the proposed AR solution, or listening to stories of what is going wrong. Rather than becoming defensive, it is through curiosity that underlying problems are revealed and solutions found. Respect creates a safe environment that enables people to speak freely. They feel free to disagree without fear of retribution or being made to feel like an outsider. They are free to talk about what isn’t working without fear of being blamed or made to feel stupid. They are free to propose their ideas for solutions without fear of being made fun of or ignored. In short, respect is the foundation for open, two-way communication which is fundamental to successful change.
Respect is inclusive not exclusive. It is central to the strong collaboration which is needed as experts from many areas contribute to the vendor selection process, implementation and then ongoing sustainability of the change. Respect is inclusive of everyone who is touched by the change project and gives them a voice.
So, how do you become a Delighter? Begin with respect. Review your own actions in the last 24 hours. How often did you disrespect someone either deliberately or unconsciously? If you did – apologize. Then bring increased awareness of how your words and actions impact others. Here are some other quick tips for strengthening your respect habit.
- If you hang out with a group of people who are constantly bad mouthing others, then STOP. NOW. If they don’t follow your lead, then find new colleagues to socialize with or they’ll drag you down.
- Practice being intentionally open in a meeting. Ask questions from a position of curiosity rather than judgment.
- Find something you respect about someone with whom you’re having a conflict. Focus on that when you next talk to him/her.
- Ask yourself, “Would I want to work with ME?” – if the answer is NO – perhaps it’s time for drive a personal change as well.
Have you worked with an “albatross”? If so, what tips can you share to help those individuals become a “delighter”?