Many times, we can be too close to the problem to see it. The old forest for the trees predicament. Often when this occurs it’s time to step back and do a full evaluation of the situation. It’s time to take a clear and unadulterated look at your company and yourself as the leader of that company.
There is nothing wrong with doing that. Actually, I recommend that you do this on a regular basis. In the end no matter how bleak things may look it will help you to start getting your company on the right path
Conversely, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you are doing right. It might be that you just need a little bit of tweaking to get your company from good to great.
Board Shark’s Laurie Grenier likes to say that she knows the difference between a Hero and Zero. Let’s use this terminology to do some actual comparisons between companies that are Zeros and those that are Heroes.
- When you walk around your company how many Dilbert cartoon strips do you see hanging on walls? If you see a lot of them…your company might be a Zero. People who are happy with where they work will not identify with Dilbert.
- When you listen to people talk, do they use the pronouns “Them” and “They” and “Their”? If they do, your company might be a Zero. Hero companies use the pronouns like ‘Us “ and”Ours“; they are all inclusive as in “We are all on the same team.”
- When someone gives a report that discloses unpleasant news, do your people tend to shoot the messenger and attack the validity of the information? Or do they take the negative information seriously and start an initiative to correct the problems?
- When someone comes up with a new and innovative idea, do your people immediately come up with fifty reasons why it won’t work? Or do they immediately engage in conversation on how to make the new idea, product, or innovation even better?
- When something goes wrong do your troops form a circular firing squad blaming one another? Or do they pull together and cooperatively start solving the problem?
- When a customer files a complaint about your service or rejects and returns your product, does your team blame the customer and make a list of reasons why this is a bad customer? Or do they start working on the problem and call that customer to see what happened, what they think the problem is and start fixing it immediately?
- When you hire a new person, do your people immediately start looking for things that this person does differently and start ridiculing him or her for that? Or do they accept that person in the team and start finding out more about him or her to see what contribution they can make to make your company better?
- Does your company blindly put policy before people? No matter what the circumstances are , no matter if it makes sense or not, taking delight in saying “That is not our policy.” Or are they taught and supported to err in favor of the customer playing the long game, which is always the right game in the end.
- Are your people doing things out of fear? Are they terrified of losing their jobs if they do the wrong thing, or they speak up, or if they go against the rest of the members of the team? Are they silenced by fear or confident they can speak up without ramifications? Or is there room for all opinions at your company’s conference table?
- In your company is criticism and backbiting encouraged? Do your folks like to talk about someone behind his back? And worst of all do you enjoy jumping in yourself? Or do you discourage bad mouthing of any kind, reminding everyone that we are all part of the same team and that we all have to look out for one another?
- When someone comes up with a new idea, does the rest of the group find ways to beat that idea into the ground because it will take them out of their comfort zone? Or do they go with the new idea, appreciate what it can mean to the company and start looking for the best way to implement that idea?
- When someone is trying to make the company better, speaking up in meetings with productive and innovative ideas, does the rest of the team look at that person with disdain and call her a brownnose or suck up? Or does everyone compliment her on her idea and start freely coming up with their own ideas so that you have a brain trust rather than a brain freeze.
- And most importantly, do people stay at your company because they have no better place to go? Or because it is a great company to work for and they are invigorated by being part of a great company like yours?
How you answered these questions will be a sure barometer of what kind of company you have, a Zero or a Hero. Think about it. It’s only common sense.