We threw away all the rules and started again: re-writing performance management

I was doing some work with a business that did all the “right” things – they had a bunch of people work for them – mostly young adults – and they did all the “right” things – they did performance reviews, set objectives, dolled out bonuses for performance, and paid for regular team building – sounds good huh

Only it wasn’t

It seems every few weeks they were getting calls asking for more money and the next pay rise

They went through a good number of staff trying to find the “right ones” – which did yield some success to be fair – but there was no end to this kind of thinking

They tried paying more – which certainly attracted better talent – it made recruiting easier and they were better out the starting blocks

But there wasn’t anything pushing them all on – the rather drab performance process with its SMART objectives and annual reviews didn’t turn out to be all that smart after all – it didn’t actually consistently drive up performance – but you knew that right……

And what about when it went wrong? They occasionally dolled out a good grilling to keep those rogue wanderers in line – even though it didn’t really work changing long term behaviour

As owners of a relatively small business they were doing well by general standards – but the same old problems that face corporates every day existed there too

What to do

So – I helped them tear up the rules and start again.

Annual performance reviews and objectives – gone

Angry phone calls – gone

Random “can I get a pay rise” phone calls – gone

So what did we do?

We moved the goal posts – I helped them create what is called Pathway – a pathway that clearly lays out the Skills, Soft Skills, Experience and Character traits for every single role – and we layered it up so within each role one can progress through the layers – and as a result attract more salary – and here is the thing – we then created a development plan focused on their learnings – a growth plan you might say – we made it clear that growth or learning requires mistakes – we started to help them to learn much more about self reflection – seeking feedback and observing themselves more often – then observing more closely things that really don’t go so well for them – or events that didn’t go so well – we got them to start documenting these events and their associated learnings, and we started to help them see how this helps them to grow into the next layer of the pathway

With each layer you are expected to be able to cover or deliver the layer below – we discovered that some we most definitely being paid above their layer – and they knew it – in most cases this was because there were some basics that some were not getting done – this caused a few squirmy faces

It’s ok

What we were asking for was one simply thing: The willingness to learn and grow

We will meet you where you are, all we are asking for is the willingness to keep growing, keep learning, and keep learning from your mistakes – and in some cases – flat start doing some of the basics that we know, and they know, they should be doing

Consequences

We teach with simple consequences – so we tie this all into an Early Warning System – verbal “warnings” (so you know what I’m talking about) will be much more frequent – we no longer need to shy away from such things because they aren’t used to beat you – they are used to help you learn

We need more feedback – helpful, corrective feedback

And each time you go through this it’s more meat for your development plan – what happened – what did you learn – what can you do next time

The only way you reach the end of this “Early Warning System” is if you refuse to learn and grow – the end of that story is pretty certain.

Some of them found all of this disconcerting – some found it quite liberating

If you have someone who is delivering lots of value to the business then they are WORTH paying more for – these business owners understood this – everyone can reach the top of these pathways with work he said – great I said – and you are happy paying them all if they do I said? – definitely he said

Complacency will not work in this organisation any more, and it’s easy to manage that.

Staying stuck, not growing, not learning, getting away with the status quo is almost impossible to get away with

It’s a win-win – the business has a clear path of development, raising the bar bit by bit by bit, they removed anger and contention, they have a way of addressing performance issues day by day, as they arise, in a non-confrontational way – we can implement zero tolerance rules that actually SUPPORT the growth of the person involved – the more responsible we are the happier we are – as for their people – they get BAGS of support – they have an environment where they can openly learn, talk about their mistakes, seek guidance, receive feedback, share themselves, and have a clear pathway to a pay rise to boot.

The organisation will never be the same again – they have discovered they can manage their people better, while at the same time significantly reducing the time it takes to do so and increasing performance as they go

Tom

Tom on…….Leaning how to learn..

My daughter started to learn how to horse ride about 2 years ago.

She loved it.

Then recently she started to refuse to get ready to go on the morning.

What was strange was that she would always come off the horse with a great big smile on her face and yet here we are battling with her to leave the house.

I had a suspicion that one of her instructors was part of what was going on.

“It’s John isn’t it?” I asked

“No” she said

“Sweetie I know you find it more difficult with John, would you like to talk about that?”

“No, I’m not going” she said

“OK” I said

So we got dressed early and both went down together to go and cancel the session – I wanted some more time with her before we just cancelled so decided physically going was helpful.

We got there and I said “Can I ask you a question?”

“Yes”

“If I could get you a private lesson with Emma would you like that?”

“YES” she said, with a beaming face.

“So it IS John then isn’t it?”

“Yes” she said in a sullen voice before she started to cry.

“It’s ok sweetie, you don’t have to be afraid to talk about how you feel about this” and I hugged her.

So we booked her some private lessons with Emma and she loved them.

It was at this point that it occurred to me that we must in fact learn how to learn.

John was a good guy, he really, really knew his stuff but the reason she didn’t like him was that he was bold, direct, and instructive and at times he could be a tad intolerant of anyone not paying attention.

Something Poppy didn’t always do.

What I knew was that it wasn’t necessarily ultimately helpful to shield Poppy from situations and people that made her feel uncomfortable but at the same time she had to grow a bit in confidence so that she knew that that was sometimes in her ultimate best interest.

There is no doubt that Emma was also a very good teacher and also knew her stuff, but it’s not particularly helpful to avoid people who’s style we don’t immediately feel comfortable with.

Why?

Because 1. That’s not real life and 2. They will no doubt have a lot to teach us!

What I was helping Poppy to understand was that she can in fact trust that John knew what he was doing, trust him to direct her, and learn to not take the boldness and occasional intolerance personally – it wasn’t personal.

If she could learn how to do this she would be immeasurably better off.

To be able to listen to instruction and discount any behaviour or tone that wasn’t to her liking will be most helpful for her future.

You cannot live your life trying to avoid people and circumstances that are not immediately comfortable – it does nothing to help us grow.

There is an important distinction here – I am not saying that direct, bold intolerance in any significant measure has a place as an accepted practice in the workplace but I am saying that we can’t simply avoid it – we can learn to be selective about what information we accept and what information we reject.

Let’s consider why people generally might find it difficult: because they think it says something about them.

Lots of us will carry a ton of baggage that means we interpret say bold intolerance towards us as message such as “don’t be so stupid, you stupid excuse for a human being” or “you are weak and pathetic, now get on with your job and stop being so useless” – it sounds harsh – but honestly – these are the kinds of harsh messages we sometimes tell ourselves.

Why do you think some people have such a hard time admitting they are wrong?

Because it might mean that these messages are true.

Of course – it doesn’t.

Learning how to be wrong can be very freeing – so what – I’m wrong – I said something, did something that was naive, stupid, ignorant, whatever – it doesn’t make me a worthless human being, it just makes me wrong!

“In the context of all there is to know, and all there ever has been to know, what we each know is closer to nothing than to something”

On that basis you might say we kind of are “stupid” if “stupid” means ignorant of knowledge.

And the trick is being ok with that!

This puts us in a great position to fail, be wrong, and to learn – to be ok with being seen to fail and make mistakes – or to begin that process.

It takes time.

There can be a lot of pain associated with failure and “looking stupid” – and therefore if you want to create a truly active learning environment in the workplace you have to undergo a fair amount of re-training – of training people how to learn.

Before I move on, let’s examine the benefits – I have witnessed organisations that are optimised to learn and those that are not, the ones that are not are slow, cumbersome, angry, reactive, aggressive, political, and are often driven by a merry go round of lies (as people try to protect themselves). By contrast I have seen (or helped create) organisations that are optimised for learning – these are agile, fast, safe, and learn quickly – they are focused on growing people so those people can add more value to the business and they are highly active in creating and participating in the learning process for each individual.

And in these organisations it’s ok not to know and it’s ok not to be ok, what counts is what’s true.

Poppy didn’t feel like she could be initially open about how she was feeling – in part this would have been our responsibility as parents to create the environment where she does feel like she can, in part this is an important part of her learning how to speak her own truth – how she truly feels about something.

Telling our own truth can, in fact, be a bit of an art form at times – we can be quite adapt at pushing down or pushing away how we really feel about something – it takes consistent practice to learn how to speak the truth about how one truly feels about a given thing – and that is an important part of learning.

So let’s summarise:

  1. Learning how to learn is something we need to learn!
  2. We must do this in the most active way – talking about it, using tools to facilitate it and building it into almost everything we do and how we do it.
  3. We must create an environment that is physiologically safe while at the same time ensuring high levels of accountability and driving people beyond the point of comfortable – consistently.
  4. We must actively learn how to speak our own truth: “the truth is I feel stupid!”
  5. We must learn how to deal with the truth and direct people in a healthy way.
  6. Build all of this into your performance process – get people talking about their mistakes, get them talking about their learning and slowly help to desensitise people to it.
  7. Then push, push, push, push – in a safe environment like this you can move very fast.

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If you liked this Article, found it helpful, useful, or interesting, please like, share, and drop in some comments

Tom created Pathway, a performance process that enables businesses to create a truly active learning environment that drives up growth and performance

You might also like the book “Pathway”, available on Amazon

The Humble Servant……

There was a great King who ruled over many lands and had been King for many years.

He ruled with fairness and openness and was respected by his people.

One day his humble servant, his closest ally and confidant sadly died suddenly.

His servant had served him faithfully for many years and was respected by many of the Kings people.

The King now had to decide who he would appoint as his new servant, after much careful consideration he decided to appoint a young man of about 20 years who serviced the gardens of the palace, he could at times be a tad irrational but the King saw in him a good heart.

To the young man’s surprise he was asked to go see the King and was asked if he would serve him as his personal servant, of course, the young man was delighted to take up this position.

Little did he know the extent of the personal changes he would have to make over the coming years.

His first task was to clear the living quarters of the old servant – when he arrived it was filled with old books and old furniture, he immediately decided he would remove all of this and start a-new, “this all looks a bit tatty for me, surely the servant of the King deserves more than this” he thought to himself.

He cleared the room, keeping just one item he found on the floor next to the bed, it was a small notebook and when he opened it, on the first page were the words “The Humble Servant” and to his astonishment it was filled with personal notes from the old servant going back many years.

The young man popped it back on the floor and then threw himself into his new role and due-fully went about instructing the Kings people to carry out the Kings wishes as he had been told to do so.

Over time he found a certain taste for this power – before he was a grass cutter and now people had to listen to his words and do as he said, after all, he spoke for the King.

The Kings people started to protest to him about his new servant and the manor in which he spoke to them, but the King smiled, acknowledged them, told them he knew, and asked them if they would do their best to accept his new servant and give him time.

It wasn’t long before the servant started to be vocal with the King too, “Sir, the palace is being run incorrectly, the kitchen staff do not order enough food, how can we have the Kings palace run out of the finest foods, you must instruct them to order more food” the King looked at the servant and very calmly said “ok, go to it, if you feel this is important”.

The servant took great delight in telling the Chef to “order more food this time, the finest foods” in a authoritative tone.

It wasn’t long before the young man found the Kings people were not so immediately accommodating: “why won’t you listen to me, go and cut the grass shorter, it’s not short enough” he would demand.

The Kings people went again to him to protest and the King replied “please bear with him my good people” and out of a deep respect for the King they obeyed his wishes.

Meanwhile some were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the servants incessant requests and demanding tone.

One day this became too much and they began to openly oppose and contend with the servant “you are arrogant and demanding, get out my kitchen” the Chef shouted as he threw a large pot straight at the servant.

As the servant ran out the kitchen to avoid the flying object he bumped into one of the cleaners “What an idiot…” he said the the cleaners “Who does he think he is?”, the cleaner smiled and said “maybe you had it coming my boy” and she quietly slipped away to her duties.

The young man reflected on this, the pot only narrowly missed his head and could have easily caused much harm, things were not going so well…….

As he sat on the floor of his room he looked down and saw the small book that he had kept and upon opening it up, he flicked through, and randomly opened one of the pages, in the middle, underlined were the words “we serve all, not just the King, the King serves all”.

He thought about what had happened with the Chef.

He flicked to the back of the book and there was an address scribbled in the back.

Curious, he decided to leave the castle, which he never normally does, and went to the address.

It was market day and the city was crowded, right in the heart of the city he found the address, there were people everywhere, he knocked on the door.

It was a middle aged man, about 5 feet tall, very thin “yes, can I help you sir?”.

“Well, I came to this house, it was, it was at the back of this book, to be honest I’m not really sure why I am here”.

The man could see that the young man seemed a little distressed, he invited him in.

“You seem distressed, are you ok?”

“Well, well, I don’t really know”

“You mentioned a book?”

He handed the man the book

“Yes, he said, this is my fathers book” the man said

“Your father?”

“Yes”

“Well, you see, I’m the Kings new servant and I don’t think I am doing so well”

“I understand” he said

“What is the problem?”

“Well, nobody seems to like me there”

“Ok, and why do you think that is?”

“Well, they just don’t, and it’s horrible, why should I go back and work with them, huh?”

“Well, you don’t have to you know”

“But, but, I like it, it’s just the others”

“What do you like about it?”

“Well, I am my own boss really and I can work as I like”

“Oh, I see” the man said before sitting quietly

“What should I do?” the young man asked

“What would you like to do?”

“I’d like to do better, I’d really like to do better” the young man said, with a sorrowful look on his face

“And you can my boy, you can”

“But how sir?”

“Well, tell me, what is your job?”

“My job is to serve the King”

“Oh ok, and what is the Kings job?”

“The Kings job is to rule the country”

“Oh ok, and is that what the King thinks his job is?”

“Well, of course, how could he not?”

“Have you asked the King?”

“Well, no, I haven’t”

“If you don’t really know and understand what you are supposed to be doing, and really take responsibility to find out what the King would like the most, how can you know?”

“Well, I suppose I can’t”

“Exactly, so if what you are doing right now isn’t working, maybe you could find out what would work?”

“Well, yes, I suppose that would make sense”

“Ok, so, do you think maybe asking the King what he sees his job is would be helpful to you?”

“Yes, I think it would”

“Can I come back and see you sometime?” the young man asked

“Of course my boy, I am at home most evenings, this is the best time to see me”

The young man promptly went back to the castle where he walked straight into the Kings room.

“Good afternoon Sir, may I ask you a question?”

“Of course”

“What is your job as King?”

“To serve all my boy, to serve all?” he said calmly, and with a tone of deep respect

“But surely you are here to rule over your people Sir”

“Yes, and I do, but this is simply a role I play in order to serve them”

“Oh” the young servant felt a crunching feeling in his stomach and he promptly left the room.

Later on he went to the King once more.

“Sir, you said your job is to serve all, did you really mean all Sir, like everyone

“Yes my boy, everyone

“Each person in my Kingdom is valuable to me and nobody is excluded”

“But what about those that murder and plunder Sir?”

“Well, this my boy is error, when we are shrouded in darkness all we can see is darkness, should I condemn them for being locked in darkness?”

“But you do condemn them Sir, you send them to jail”

“We must have laws of the land my boy, and there must be consequences for peoples choices, this is an important part of our learning, and some of these will genuinely see the error of their ways, and so our system is designed to help these people where we can, precisely because they are valuable to us, I have not condemned their value as a person, I have condemned their temporary choices, these things are different”

“I see Sir” and with that the young man left

On his way back to his quarters he noticed the Chef was carrying a huge pile of washing, he was a big, strong man, and as the young servant looked on as the Chef dropped off the washing in the laundry room and as the young maid thanked him he said “you are certainly most welcome my young lady, if I can be of service again, please ask”

The young servant felt terrible.

The shear extent of his errors were dawning on him.

He didn’t sleep all night and the next morning very early he went straight to see the old servants son hoping to catch him before he left for work.

Having briefly explained what he had learnt he asked the man “What should I do now?”

He gave the young man a small book and said “Well as a start write the words “The Humble Servant” in the front of this book and then take some notes, spend your life learning how to truly serve others”.

“Ok” he said

“If you wanted to, you could just go and tell them you were wrong you know?”

“But what if they reject me?”

“If they reject you, they reject you, we don’t get to control their choices, we only get to control our own”

“Right, ok”

“Look, we aren’t entitled to anything, we aren’t entitled to people forgiving us, but we can do our best to take responsibility for our choices, and whenever necessary, be wrong”

“Ok, that sounds good, thank you”

The young man went straight to see the Chef

“I was wrong” he said, looking sheepish

“I know” said the Chef

“I’m sorry for my behaviour” said the young man

“It’s ok” said the Chef

“You know, we all have lessons to learn, we all have unhelpful behaviours, what counts is our willingness to work on them, and our willingness to be forgiving of others while they work on theirs”

“Thank you” said the young man

“All good kid” said the big Chef

Later that week the young servant had the opportunity to spend more time with the Chef, he was astonished – the Chef ran a tight ship, everything was organised, everyone knew what they were doing, everyone knew the part they played, everyone knew what was expected of them, and they seemed to work together in complete harmony, “this is incredible” said the young servant, “we all serve each other” said the Chef “and we have a well defined process that works, and we serve that too”, we all keep our place, and we know what to do when we step out of place, we are forgiving of each other and we help each other get back into place, it just works

As the young servant went down to the fish mongers with the Chef he noticed he purchased whatever fish was left, he used up all the scraps and anything that may go to waste “why don’t you buy the finest fish?” asked the young man “maybe that’s a question for the King my boy” said the Chef

The young servant later asked the King about the fish “our Chef is a great Chef” said the King “I am not here to consume and waste but to preserve and protect, our Chef can make wonders from the scraps of fish that are left”

“But what about your guests Sir”

“Well, when we have honoured guests we do indeed seek the finest ingredients, by way of respect, we deeply respect our relationships with our friends and colleagues in other nations, and we respect the jobs they have to do and the people they represent, but while it is just us in the palace, we do not need all of this”

The young servant felt sheepish once more.

“So why did you agree for me to tell Chef to buy all the expensive ingredients?”

“Well my boy, I didn’t think you were really ready to hear what I had to say, you were, after all, right, certainly according to you anyway”

“But did you not want to correct me?”

“Look, it’s important that we help people to see their unhelpful behaviour patterns, especially when they can’t see them for themselves, in your specific case however I just felt that you would work this out, it was an important lesson, and you have a good heart my boy”

“Yes, you had got a few things mixed up, but I was confident you would work this out”

“But I was pretty horrible Sir”

“Yes, you were, but we do not need to dwell on the past now do we, what counts is what we do next”

“You may have realised by now that things work a little differently here, I am deeply invested in your personal growth, I want you to grow and I want you to succeed and I want you to learn things that will help you to make happier choices so that you enjoy your time here, and at the same time you cannot fail but to add huge value to our mission here”

“To serve the people Sir”

“Exactly my boy, exactly”

“I understand Sir, I will do anything you ask of me, I will clean the toilets, mow the grass, whatever is asked of me I will do, and I will do it gladly”

“That is very noble of you my boy and this approach will get you far, let me be clear on one point, nobody here is to simply blindly follow orders for the sake of it, part of being of service is to bring all of your talents, skills, knowledge and experience to work, if you disagree with me, say so, by all means be respectful about doing so, but do so, please do so, and tell everyone the same, we need what you bring, I need what you bring, I am only one man”

“Ok Sir, I understand”

“And my man, please remember something else, simply offer whatever you can, do not seek gain, and power, and praise, and acknowledgement from others, you do not need it, seek to humbly offer what you can offer, seek to humbly give what you can give, and if it helps others wonderful, if not that’s ok”

“Yes Sir, thank you Sir” the young servant bowed his head and walked out backwards, with not even a glance back at the King.

As he closed the doors he noticed a small plaque on the wall that said “A quick fire way out of conflict: be wrong”

As he sat in his quarters, looking at all the expensive furniture that he had ordered, and the fine garments the King had allowed him to purchase he felt a tad sick.

“I was so entitled” he thought.

The next day, he removed everything.

To his surprise he found that all the old furniture had been stored away in the basement and could be recovered, so with some help he put it all back into his quarters, “this seems so much more appropriate” he thought to himself.

As he was serving the King breakfast the following day he asked if the King would permit him a question “Sir, why did you not have me fired?”

The King smiled

“Oh my boy, we all have so much to learn, I appointed you and I had faith in you, had you not learnt this lesson, as I thought you would, then I would have spoken up, if you had failed to listen I would have been more bold with you in the hope of getting through, if you still failed to learn I may try one last attempt and only then would I have you removed from duty, you see I too once had to learn these lessons, and my father, a gracious and wonderful man offered me the same scope to make mistakes, he gave me plenty of rope and I try to do the same with others”

He continued… “What I have consistently found over and over again is that many people dolisten, there are many, many good people out there, and many, many of them are blind to their unhelpful behaviours, just like you were, just like I was, just like our big Chef was too, what do we gain from being intolerant with everyone? How do we grow like this? How am I serving you by being like this? Your lessons, these still slightly raw lessons will serve you well for many, many years to come, you will make a great and wonderful noble servant who earnestly seeks to serve the people, which in the end, is why we are here, so how valuable is this to our mission?”

“Well, I suppose it’s quite valuable Sir”

“It’s very valuable my man, now, go see to your work”

“Yes Sir, of course Sir”

“And remember, not everyone wants to serve, it’s our job to lead from the front and show them how”

“Yes Sir” said the servant, has be quietly left the room

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Ultimately it is a (semi) fictional story, but still, let’s just examine some of the lessons we can learn from it:

  1. Performance management is so much more than a process and list of objectives – what we are trying to do is drive up the value each person can offer to the business, and do that in a way that is helpful for them and serves their ultimate good – if we don’t teach people about behaviour we severely limit our ability to do so.
  2. We can all be blind to our own unhelpful behaviour patterns, we all have them, we must have a way that we can address this, talk about it, and deal with it in an open and healthy manor.
  3. Being intolerant to mistakes doesn’t actually help people to grow, what we need to do is help them to see their mistakes and then help them grow.
  4. We need to create an environment where you can be safe and wrong at the same time.
  5. We need to learn a balance between actively pointing out unhelpful behaviour when it’s needed and not jumping onto every mistake, if someone is willing to learn often they will get there.
  6. It’s important that everyone knows what is expected of them and what good looks like, including what kinds of behaviours you want to see – there can often be a lot of confusion about what is expected.
  7. We cannot assume we know what others think, we cannot assume others think like us, have the same values as us, it’s wise to find out.
  8. We need wise teachers and guiders to help us grow, and they don’t have to be our boss.
  9. We always have choices, we are never trapped.
  10. If we want to influence this as scale we can, we need to provide a framework and set of principles with which to guide people with – we need a “datum” people can use, and then we need to educate people so they can guide others too.
  11. The laws of happiness and the laws of high performance happen to be the same, being of service, working hard, being discipled and organised, being forgiving and understanding, developing unity with others, all help us to feel stronger and happier.
  12. There is always someone we can be of service to.
  13. We may not like our jobs at times however we can all choose to simply serve the best we can.
  14. Our tone can have a significant effect on our communication with others, it’s helpful to be aware of it.

If you would like to learn how to develop a performance process that actually works then get in touch, I am running performance management workshops in the next few months, get in touch if you want to come along.

If you liked the post please like and share it.

All the best

Tom

What are others saying?

In a recent delivery to a group of front line staff 98% gave an agree score to the following question:  Do you think that having an EWS (warning) may actually be a good thing to help you grow even if you might not like it in the beginning?

95% gave an agree score to the question: Have you learnt something today that you feel will help you outside of work? and 100% to Have you learnt something today that you feel will help you learn, grow, and develop in work?

Rapid Learning: Having your cake and eating it too……

If you take a look at some of what the tech entrepreneurs have learnt over the last few decades you will find that they have had to come to learn how to deal with rapid learning during rapid growth, and when I mean paid growth I mean very rapid, for example, going from 0 listings through Airbnb in 2009 to over 2.3 Million listings in 2016. Today they employe over 3,000 people and turnover is around $2.6 Billion dollars – in 8 years!

What these guys report is the rate at which the business has to learn is intense – Reid Hoffman the founder of LinkedIn says it’s like “constant Beta” ie it’s in a constant state of learning and change, a constant live prototype

Now let’s consider how valuable this learning is – firstly to the business itself – it’s valuable because it’s the difference between life and death, it’s valuable because it’s the difference between rapid growth and not, it’s valuable because it is the business, it’s the learning that drives the next bit of action.

Now consider the wider implications, Silicon Valley is so hard to repeat in other places in the world because the depth of executive experience there – all of that experience came from doing it themselves and having to learn.

Using their financial forecasting process Amazon was able to work out that if they could remove the “pain” of someone having to pay for shipping lot’s more people would buy more, buy more regularly and keep coming back – and they did – how valuable was that learning? Probably Billions in revenue.

And yet as many organisations evolve over time, as they beds in, and it settles down, at some point somewhere down the line this tolerance, even expectation that we need to learn to survive seems to seep away – in creeps the idea that “we should have this buy now” – that you “should have this by now”

And then tolerance of the necessary mistakes that precedes learning seems to slowly fade away

I have sat in many meetings where directors and senior leaders are not happy with how things are going – in fact they display open contempt, frustration, and anger at the current situation.

The problem is that everyone else often goes into protection mode – protection mode means they lie, manipulate, bend the truth, spin a story, or in some other way minimises mistakes – we inadvertently display a complete intolerance for learning and the often unavoidable mistakes that proceed it.

This only serves to permeate a fear based organisation – an organisation based on avoidance and game playing – this is not a highly engaged, responsible organisation.

We are in fact fighting against human nature itself – we are built to learn and grow – which happens to involve some mistakes along the way

There is another way

We really can establish a learning culture, one that is responsible and accountable and strong – one where one can be open about their mistakes, to receive guidance and be given some scope to learn and correct ready for next time – this learning creates value – the person involved grows, becomes more capable, more responsible, wiser to their choices, and adds that value back into the business

Firstly there is an absence of any clear and understood accountability process that can be calmly and consistently applied – we use this when we notice patterns of failures, patterns of behaviour, patterns of choices that are not helpful – we don’t need to jump on people necks every time they make a mistake, but if they are making patterns of mistakes we can intervene to help them learn faster.

Second anger really isn’t your only choice – so you hold a business review – there is something you are not happy with – a presentation that isn’t going well – they didn’t do enough homework before they came in – it just an opportunity for you to help them learn what good looks like.

They either: Didn’t know how or chose not to – if they didn’t know how then that’s an opportunity for you to help them learn for next time – either from you directly or via someone else – if they chose not to – acknowledge that – calmly tell them to come back again – as soon as you notice a pattern, you use consequences simply to re-enforce the learning.

Get everyone to start documenting their learnings – if you are human and you are walking there should be plenty you can learn from in your day to day activities – meetings that didn’t go well, projects that didn’t have enough contingency, new, more effective ways to do things, or some unhelpful behaviour like not listening properly when people are talking to you.

We are missing out on so much learning it’s criminal – there is so much value to be had.

We really can have our cake and eat it too by choosing a high rate, rapid learning environment, with responsible, accountable people – who happen to be happier too.

____________________

Tom uses a Performance Framework called Pathway to drive learning and accountability, a formula for learning, if you think we need more learning and accountability in the workplace drop a comment below

If you want a free download about how to drive performance go to: inspiredchangeuk.com

Tom

The sheer joy of learning……

Learning is joyful

It enlarges the soul, it makes us stronger, and it contributes to our happiness

It’s not always easy, especially when you are having to learn hard and fast

Correcting mistakes rapidly to course correct and keep growing

Growing requires mistakes

That’s where the magic happens

You talk to a tech startup who went through rapid growth, rapidly doubling your workforce, then doubling again, and again, and again, going from a handful in an apartment to 100’s of people, finding offices, setting up procedures and systems, recruiting a leadership team, a people director, a finance director, a sales director, developing your product, adding features, and doing all this while delivering a service to your customers, correcting mistakes as you go

It’s constant Beta

And it’s tough

Even, relentless

But there is SO much growth, personal growth

How many founders have created global companies?

Was Mark Zuckerberg able to run a $171B company when he was sat in his dorm room thinking about what eventually became Facebook?

Could Reid Hoffman have created LinkedIn without creating Paypal?

Could he have created Paypal without creating the other failures that went before it?

Could Elon Must have created the Telsa of today and belted the world with electric cars, either ones he made or ones other companies made without doing Paypal first?

Could he have created Space X and launched the Falcon 9 heavy into orbit and put a car into space?

All these people, and the many many millions that were part of these journeys and many others that went with them

Edison, Ghandi, Churchill, Carnegie, Federer, Farah, Schumacher, Senna, Disney

We grow from learning and making mistakes, reviewing our mistakes and correcting course

We grow by developing our ability to self reflect and change our behaviours and choices, we grow when we invite feedback, when we ask for guidance and then learn from it

There is so much joy in learning

Then we go into a corporate environment and yet somehow learning does not seem so fun

People don’t so much like our mistakes

They don’t so much like us failing, and getting things wrong

Somehow the rules a different, here you are NOT to fail, here you win by winning only, here you win by presenting the best picture

Somehow there isn’t so much joy in the learning

I spoke to a manager once who said “but why on earth would I want them to make mistakes that’s crazy”

You just cut your human down

You cut their legs off

They were not born perfect, they didn’t come to you perfect

If you give them the scope to fail and learn, you also give them the ability to grow

You give them legs to run

I know, having met and spoken to managers the sheer idea of this is sometimes genuinely scary

What??

You want me to do WHAT??

How do you build a global company like Google with 74,000 people and a $TRILLION company from nothing in 20 years without learning?

You can’t

When you build something like that you have to learn, and learn hard and learn fast

At what point did we decide we no longer need to learn?

There is so much joy to be had from learning and growing, and it turns out, there is a return too

There is a return on this learning, it makes you stronger, faster, and more valuable

There is value in this learning

What value did Edison create from the learning that was compounded as he made another attempt at the incandescent lightbulb?

This learning is commercially viable

You can sell this learning, either as a product or a service or as knowledge via consultancy or training

At what point did we decide we no longer want people to make mistakes?

I have seen plenty of roastings, and had a few myself

This is not the most effective way to learn

Fear, it turns out, is not the best teacher

A genuine teacher is

A teacher that is wiser than you, that can help you learn, reflect on your mistakes, help you see things you cannot see, hold you to account, and occasionally apply consequences to help you learn

That’s how we learn

Tech start-ups had to devise ways to learn hard and fast

I wonder if today Google learns as hard and as fast as it did in the early days, I wonder how it will learn in 100 years from now

It will inevitablely become more difficult and to some degree isn’t quite as appropriate to learn in that same way when you are a global business with 74,000 people – but there IS a way we can create a learning organisation, no matter how big and how old and how entrenched a fear based culture, there IS a way this can be broken down, and we CAN start to learn once more

Human beings are happier when they are learning, there is SO much joy from that

“hmmm we have messed this up boss, I clearly didn’t prepared well enough for this roll-out and it’s going badly”

“ok cool, so what have you learnt so far”

“ok, so this is what we learnt so far…………”

“ok, you want some extra observations…….”

“so let’s sit down next week, go back over the learnings, and see if we need to pivot again”

“great, thanks boss”

And it turns out, there is a TON of value too

They weren’t born perfect, they didn’t come to you perfect, and they never will be, but we CAN create an environment that is conducive to learning and growing, to sharing these learnings, being open and honest, enabling others to learn from our mistakes and driving collective value

And it turns out that it’s WAY more fun being in that kind of environment than one that attempts to limit and contain mistakes

Happier people are more engaged, more responsible, learn faster, and perform better, and create more value

It’s a total win-win

Tom

_________________

Tom uses a Performance Framework called The Pathway Principles to drive learning and accountability in business, a formula for learning, if you want to find out more type “yes please” in the comments and Tom will be in touch

Tom is just publishing a brand new book called The Pathway Principles with all the principles, the manager guides and everything you need, if you want an early copy, for free, drop a comment below “book please Tom”, there is a total of 20, when they are gone, they are gone.

If you liked the post please like, share and comment

We don’t get to be an authentic leader AND a perfect one

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all be “authentic leaders”

Well, there is a price for that

Let me begin with a story;

The other night my daughter (7) got out of the bath and went upstairs, I was following her up to blow dry her hair

I was a tad impatient

Ok – definitely impatient

She was taking “ages” to brush her hair ready to be dried, and “messing around” getting herself ready

I said (with a tone of irritation) “come on, hurry up, I’m going downstairs in a minute and I won’t be here to dry your hair if you take much longer”

She didn’t hurry up (note to self: irritation wasn’t actually working – was it)

And then, as I quickly finished brushing her hair in an agitated – let’s just get this done kind of way – she shouted “STOP that hurts”

“if you are going to shout at me I’m not doing your hair” I said, as I walked off

She came downstairs a bit later – clearly not happy about all this, and threw some clothes on the sofa

I threw them back at her and said “don’t start throwing your clothes around here”

She left, crying, upset

As I sat there, brooding, I knew I was fighting the truth: I was wrong

Damn!

Up I went to go see her

She was in her bed and when I arrived she really didn’t want to speak to me – I just waited

“I’m wrong” I said

“I was irritated, angry, and impatient with you, and I was wrong”

“You didn’t have to throw stuff at me daddy” she said, while crying

“You’re right” I said

“perhaps we could start agin what do you think?”

“we are just about to watch some TV, you wanna join us? I can dry your hair before we begin”

She got out of bed and we went to dry her hair

As we sat on the sofa she snuggled right into me, I could tell that she genuinely appreciated me correcting my mistake

In the role of a parent in particular we can be the height of hypocrisy – demanding better behaviour than we display ourselves – shouting at them to be quiet – or saying in an angry, aggressive tone “don’t you talk to me like that” or “don’t you get angry with ME” – uhhhmmm HELLO!!

The point?

We just aren’t perfect – I have put mountains of work into my own parenting, to the point that I sacrificed growing or doing anything with my business for a period of about 18 months while I worked on and corrected some behavioural traits that would effect them for the rest of their lives – it was just too important – and I’m still getting it wrong

If there are three words that an authentic leader should be comfortable with beyond any others they are: I was wrong

It’s so easy to dominate children

And as these children grow up and go to work it’s unlikely they know how to be authentic and wrong, because it’s unlikely they were taught how

They will follow the example they were set – which often was more like do as I say not do as I do

This post is an extension to my previous post about re-defining performance management, you see, what we need is to build a system that allows people to be authentic, and real and to show MORE of themselves not less of themselves

The old ways of setting objectives and annual reviews only encourages them to present a glossy picture – ie a lie

Nope

If we want authentic leadership it starts with being wrong

Talk to me about your mistakes, what you have learnt, how you have GROWN

There is no growth in presenting glossy pictures, but we have been doing it for SO long that in most cases – that’s all we know

I have been helping to break this down, bit by bit by bit, to help people to identify and describe their performance more clearly, to give a wide and balanced view of how they perform – it is only from this place that we can truly help facilitate growth

Whether you like it or not – we are going to have to talk about the not-so-good bits – but it’s ok, because we are creating an environment where it’s safe to be wrong

When I was in corporates there was a saying: “perception is everything”

But perception isn’t the truth – is it

There isn’t much authenticity in perception

But how do we break this cycle?

If you look at my post on breaking the performance management rules (see link below) – it turns out there is a way to encourage, enhance, grow, and manage the development of authenticity – a system where perception doesn’t really work any more – a system I developed called Pathway – it may well be disconcerting for some, but it’s necessary – and it’s actually in their very best long term interest

It turns out we can’t be authentic AND perfect – because we ain’t – I’m not the perfect father, I’m not the perfect husband, or the perfect business partner – with Pathway you score points for being you, being human, for learning and growing, for authentically being honest about your shortcoming and growing from that point

Pathway is about meeting people where they are and helping them to grow from there

Boy it’s easier to be authentic, it just takes time to break down the conditioning that tells us we should be perfect, and Pathway offers us a tool to work towards that very thing

As you go about your day, I encourage you to consider using these three words: I was wrong

It’s actually very liberating

If you want to find out more about Pathway for your business get in touch

Please like and share if you liked the post

Tom

To Google; it wasn’t even about diversity…..

Firstly – let me say, Google is a pretty good organisation, as organisations go

There is however, a number of things that can be learnt from their recent challenge following one of their employees writing a 10 page challenge to their diversity policies, both what and how they do things

It seems pretty much everyone, including Google, missed the point completely

They had a GOLDEN opportunity to make a bold and great step forward, but unfortunately it seems they have not quite twigged that yet

In the document this particular Googler (James Damore) challenged the idea that women will never be able to account for a significant proportion of Tech positions, and that Googles attempts to force this through are not helpful – fair enough

You can find the document here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586/Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.pdf

So this is the SUBJECT about which he was discussing – but what he DESCRIBED was an organisation that is run by fear – he articulated that not many people would speak up as he has, he described an organisation where many people feel the way he feels and yet nobody says anything – ie they lie and hide

He describes an organisation where you cannot have an opinion if it differs from the politically correct, “google” version of reality

Now – let me just make a really important point – this is the error that nearly ALL organisations make – it isn’t something to point at – it’s something to LEARN from

There has been quite a lot of opinions about this chap online, either that he should be fired for having these views or that he did a great job in simply expressing his view

Let me go back to some basics:

Google, like many organisations of today have worked out that a “diverse” workforce is good for business – and there is probably a ton of data to support this – but regardless, this is their view and strategy to improve their business – and THEY GET TO DO THAT – it’s THEIR business, they get to run it HOWEVER they like.

James Damore effectively said that there is at times positive discrimination – but again Google may well have worked out that they are STILL more effective as an organisation with a diverse workforce, even if individually you take on an employee (a female) that is a bit less skilled than another (a male) – I don’t know – the point is, that is their prerogative

There is lots of debate about whether his opinion is so far away from the company values that he HAD to go, let me deal with that – he was just WRONG – so he used some very scientific looking words and graphs – but he was still wrong – that’s all

So – a helpful step for Google to take would be:

“hmmm, we clearly haven’t been able to articulate why diversity is so important, and why our policies are what they are – AND while we are here we might be able to review them and see if they ARE right and ARE doing what we want them to”

A much more responsible way to move forward

The point James was making is further proven by what happens next:

So Google CEO Sundar Pichai organises a town hall brief at Google to de-brief this and answer questions from Googlers – the briefing gets cancelled at the last minute and his memo to staff stated:

“We had hoped to have a frank, open discussion today as we always do to bring us together and move forward. But our Dory questions appeared externally this afternoon, and on some websites Googlers are now being named personally. Googlers are writing in, concerned about their safety and worried they may be “outed” publicly for asking a question in the Town Hall.”

Here is the KEY question – why on earth would anyone by concerned about their “safety” and be WORRIED they may be “outed”?

Because they are AFRAID

Why are they AFRAID?

Let me go back to quote from Jame’s original piece:

“I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired”

“Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology”

So if we put these two pieces of information together we have an employee describing a fear based organisation, and the organisation responding in a manor driven by fear

Google actually proved the existence of some of the problems James communicated in the very response they made to his open letter

So not particularly great

But here is the thing: Google can, at any time, pull this back – all that is needed is a response based on truth, not fear

At any time you just stand up and go “yeah, you know, maybe we handled this badly – oh well – we can rectify most of that pretty quickly – now on to the issues James raises:

  1. Before we do anything, let’s gather some more information – it seems that James may not be the only Googler feeling uneasy about some of our policies, rightly or wrongly – how widespread is this feeling? We will do an anonymous survey, with perhaps 4 or 5 questions to work out a) how people feel about the diversity programme and b) do people feel they cannot speak up about this or other things for fear of retribution
  2. Once we have this information we can take some more steps a) gather more information b) stand by our current policies, and explain in much better detail why we feel these are important c) change our policies d) try and work out how we address the fear of retribution e) mix of the above

At this point I think it might be worth addressing what they could do with James – they fired him – presumably he did a pretty good job – he was a senior guy – if he was rubbish at his job he probably would not be there – second, his general respect for his colleagues, including the opposite sex is unlikely to be offensive or discriminating on a daily basis – again on the assumption that if he really was that bad, he probably would have long gone, third, he doesn’t actually talk down women in his article as such, he simply has a view that women as less likely to come into Tech because of their biology, which, for the purpose of this article lets just assume that is incorrect – so he has some incorrect ideas about things – that does not necessarily mean he inherently undervalues or looks down on women

James effectively describes an organisation that at times exhibits positive discrimination – now – lets assume this to be true – for the sake of this post – Google just needs to work out why this is the right thing, just like I said earlier – is this something that has a longer term overall benefit to the business? Maybe it does – maybe they really do need more women in the business to create that more diverse workforce, that somehow the sum becomes greater than the parts – ok – so one very real option would be to just go back to James and assess – if we work with him – can we all learn and grow from this? We may not need to change the policy, we may need to work with people like James to better articulate why this is important to us. If you can’t stand behind it – either work out why or stop – why would you continue to do something if you cannot stand behind and really know why you are doing it?

There is another point, perhaps one of the most important points to be grasped from this whole thing: James was just frustrated – why – because he didn’t feel heard

He felt like nobody was listening

And it turns out – they weren’t

How do we know that? From their response

In a wealth of ways they have demonstrated that they didn’t really want to listen

It was Napolean Hill who said:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit”

So here is the golden nugget:

“We were wrong, whether James is factually correct or not is irrelevant – it’s not about agreeing with him or not, the point is – we didn’t even listen – as an organisation we failed to listen, and we were wrong”

“And there will be others out there who don’t feel heard, and we want to change that”

“If you don’t feel like you can speak out, if you don’t feel like you are being heard, then come forward – we may not agree, we don’t have to, but we do need to listen”

THAT is caring about the happiness of another human being – right there.

So Google – you have an opportunity of such great magnitude it is difficult to imagine – you have an opportunity to help your people feel heard – to feel like someone is listening, and that they care about how you feel – they don’t have to agree with you – but they WILL listen – gosh – you learn to really listen and you might just find a whole chunk of them are like putty in your hands – why? – because Real listening is SO rare, that it’s possible nobody has ever really listened to them – ever.

What a gift

You have a wonderful opportunity here Google – nothing need be wasted here – NOTHING – It looks unlikely you will twig – but hopefully you will.

He just want to be heard – that’s all – it wasn’t even about diversity

You can have the grandest, fanciest offices in the world, the greatest perks but none of that will help people feel heard – that requires something you can’t just buy and erect with a chuck load of money – it takes learning and growth and time and wisdom

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like and share, or comment on what you learnt

BIT OF HELP – For all of you that found and like my post in a LinkedIn Group – please like the post itself as well as the group discussion – it helps spread the word, and LinkedIn spreads the blog further afield

If you want to address fear in your own life or in your workplace, get in touch

Enjoy

Tom

To understand or not understand…….that is the question

One of the greatest gifts we can ever give another human being is to help them to feel genuinely understood, and we need to develop this skill for real performance management

Unfortunately, not many people feel understood

In fact, having met hundreds of thousands of people and worked extensively with thousands of them my coach once said at best 2% of those he met felt truly understood.

So it’s a rare thing

There is a Steven Covey quote from 7 habits:

“Seek first to understand before being understood”

Although commendable when it comes to understanding people there is one problem: We can’t give what we don’t have

If someone does not feel deeply understood themselves how can they possibly understand others? How can they even know what that feels like having never experienced it?

If you pay attention while having a conversation with people you will notice that many of them are simply waiting to speak, you will comment about something then they will carry right on talking about themselves – why do people do this?

Simple – they don’t feel understood – they don’t feel heard – they have NEVER felt heard – what they are communicating is an innate need to feel heard and understood.

So, a great many people do not feel understood themselves and if we do not feel understood ourselves we can’t hope to help others to feel understood, further more, if we don’t truly understand someone how can we possibly really listen to them? Impossible.

So as an organisation we have to build our capability to understand others, this requires two primary actions:

Teach people about behaviour, about their fear, about their victimhood, about their anger, about their need for praise or power or safety – and we have to teach them about how they can be irresponsible for example – all these things we must help people to understand.

Then we create an environment where they can share what they see about themselves, a place or opportunity where they can share their behaviours, flaws, mistakes, an environment where they can be……..well……..human

Yep, thats right, you happen to employ human beings, human beings who are, well, flawed – innately flawed.

And the only way they can feel truly heard and understood is if you can create opportunities for them to express…..well, who they are – human, flawed, and sometimes afraid or ashamed or angry or jealous.

Only by doing this do you then begin to create the capability within the organisation to listen and understand others.

A capability that is transformative and profound in its effect

A capability to grow emotionally intelligent people who understands what a colleague is saying when they walk into their office angry, who understands when they get defensive, when they lie, or hide, or run or cling.

Real behavioural change can only come from first understanding behaviour – if you employ humans and expect them not to be human you are doomed – this very expectation is at the heart of why they don’t feel understood – and do you think feeling mis-understood helps them to feel happy, contented, engaged, and safe to talk about their mistakes and flaws? Not a chance.

Engagement isn’t just a corporate communication plan, it’s real, genuine conversations at the coffee machine, between real people who understand you, and moments in time when you FEEL completely understood

And there is something special and rare about that

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like and share, or comment on what you learnt

If you want to address fear in your own life or in your workplace, get in touch

Have fun!

Tom

Yes, eye really do know……

Our eyes are like windows to our soul

If you pay attention all of the following can often be discerned just by looking at someones eyes:

I’m confused
I’m afraid
I don’t know what to do next
I’m shocked
I’m in my head thinking
I’ve emotionally withdrawn
I’m in pain
I feel worthless
I don’t trust you
AND

I feel free
You can’t hurt me
I’m not afraid
I care about you
I can see you
I still care about you
I’m happy
I’m joyful
I’m alive
And many, many more

Our faces give off yet more information to support all of the above

It is possible to simply look at someone to establish that in that moment they feel alone, afraid, confused, and in pain

It is also possible to communicate lots of information without words:

I have sat opposite someone and they have looked into my eyes and have said the following to me without uttering a word:

“I understand”

“I understand how you feel, and why you feel like that”

“I understand that it can be difficult, and I am here for you, right now, and you are never alone”

Equally I have had similar conversations with people without uttering a word

In fact I had a conversation once with a lady who felt so seen, like someone understood her so deeply that she had to leave – nobody had ever understood her like that before – and in a bizarre way it felt most uncomfortable for her, understandably.

Everyone wants to feel understood and heard – and the use of words are by no means mandatory for either person in order for them to feel totally and completely understood, heard, and cared for.

That is a rare and touching event

_______

Just imagine for one moment that you go to the coffee machine, a colleague is already there making their tea, you look at them, you can see they are in pain, struggling with something, you look straight at them and with a very slight nod you communicate that you understand. Just as you walk past them to get the milk you briefly touch them on the shoulder, communicating that 1. they are not alone and 2. you are there for them – they walk off, and as they do they glance back at you, you look at them and again you nod your head ever so slightly, reminding them that you understand and that you really are there for them.

All this happens in a few minutes

A genuine, real connection between two human beings

You saw them, you heard them, they knew you listened

And yet, nothing was said

It’s all they wanted, ultimately, it’s what we all want

If you want to address performance management and engagement in your business download my “short guide to The Pathway Principles”

Tom

Quantum Physics and the secrets of Engagement

“Nothing is causing

 anything to happen”

Physics as most people undertsand it remains quite one dimensional – most of us understand physics how we think Isaac Newton described it – the apple falling from the tree due to gravity, a gravity that is independent of things like time and space.

Science has evolved somewhat since then – and I will attempt to describe some of that the best I can

What they discovered was that space is actually granular or you might say bits of space, and these bits of space are connected by a web of fields or lines connecting them together – and that this space – itself – is gravity – so space and gravity are one and the same thing

What they also discovered is that time is not a fixed clock governing the universe – in fact – if you had accurate enough clocks you could put a clock on the floor and a clock on the table and after half an hour they would register different times – despite starting at the same position – time in fact runs faster with height – the closer you get to the centre of the earth – or where gravity is strongest – time runs slower

So time and space are intrinsically linked

But it get’s stranger

If you were actually able to hold a rocket on the horizon of a black hole for 15 minutes (as recorded by the rocket) centuries will have passed on earth – at the very edge of a black hole, time no longer exists – if you held a rocket there for 1 minute (as recorded by the rocket) millions of years will have passed on earth

It would be true to say that in fact – time does not exist – we cannot actually “measure” time independent of something else – that is to say – time as we know it is simply a definition of what our clocks measure – not the other way around – at a quantum level (the size of a grain of space) – time – disappears

How do I know that I am old or young?

I know that only in relation to something else

So what they have discovered is that everything we see, everything we are, the world, the universe, and everything in it is made of the same fundamental thing – at a quantum level we are made up of quantum fields – just as a piece of rock is

We only determine that these things are different because if you zoom out far enough they appear to be different.

How do we know a wave is a wave – where does it start and where does it end? – it is simply to aid our understanding of things – or I should say – to aid our dividing up of the information

There is one final key point – a key part of quantum science is that reality is relational – the theory does not describe things as they are, it describes how they interact with each other – it does not describe where a particle is but how it shows itself to others.

Remember – this is the very essence of reality at the smallest scale – and a reality of which we are made.

So reality is not fixed objects but a dance between quanta that interacts with the quanta around it, which in turn interacts with other quanta, and thus, they dance, like the waves of the sea, or a swarm of birds – or even – two people.

So – the world unfolds – and each component responds to life around it based on what it is – and the dance between the two

If I walked up to 10 people and hit them in the face as hard as I could, would everyone respond in the same way? No

Why not?

Because they respond to the event based on what they are

Just as a quanta of space does at a granular level

If I threw a glass at a wall as hard as I could and it smashed into pieces – did I “make” the glass smash?

What if I threw and exact same size of toughened glass and it didn’t smash? Given exactly the same force, at exactly the same wall?

You see in each case the glass responded to the conditions as a function of what it is

And so – here we are at the truth of things:

we respond to all of life as a function of whatWE

 are

To have any notion of anything else can only lead to unhappiness and confusion.

So then – what are we?

Lets consider a computer – lets say we are the hardware – and we have been given the software from everyone else around us, since our very conception – these are the programs that run most of our lives – our beliefs about ourselves and the world among other things – remember the software is simply information.

The problem is that we begin to believe that we ARE the software, and then when we put one more additive into the mix we create much confusion – pain.

Lets say a lady has a very traumatic event where someone tries to take advantage of her, it’s a dark night, her attacker is wearing an orange coat and smells of garlic – from that day emotional pain is triggered every time she smells garlic on someone’s breath – an association has formed that links the feeling of pain with a piece of information – a line of software – when the brain then interprets a signal from the nose that identifies garlic, specifically, from someones breath – an emotion is triggered – specifically – a painful one.

So it’s fair to say that we are, quite literally, riddled with these kinds of associations

For example, I can personally often observe an event followed by the feeling of fear – I am now able, depending upon the situation, to simple observe the fear and acknowledge that – it is a lie – it is a line of information that was once useful, but is now defunct, and I now work to dis-associate the information from the fear based response – and over time, the fear response is slowly getting weaker

We have so many associations that you might say – they govern us way more that we govern them – we see a glance from a colleague, a change of tone, or even – a feeling of withdrawal – we pick up this information and then interpret it based on historical data – and in many cases there is some kind of pain or fear associated with this kind of information – and we respond based on learnt survival techniques – like – for example – lying.

There is a process here:

Event – Judgement – Feeling – Response

The only one thing we can change here is judgement

And so – our whole experience of life and the world around us can be governed by the association – or judgement – we make based on the information that came in

There is one more facet to cover – the pain – more specifically – this is emotional wounding from the simple idea that one is not good enough – that the data means something about our inherent worth as a human being

The pain must be healed if we are to gain any hope of taking any level of control over this loop – otherwise we are but balls in a pinball machine – event – response – event – response – we simply react based on conditioned information, that can often be associated with pain.

Unfortunately it is unavoidable, and we cannot “think” our way out of pain, we must re-build our conditioned link between the information and the feeling, and then begin to recognise and gain some level of choice, or control over the judgements we are making about every single event in our lives.

How many people at work get angry? Anger is programmed response – they are just responding to pain or fear or both and attempting to gain control and feel better.

How can we judge someone when we know they are just responding to pain?

I want you to consider for a moment more consequence for your business:

All of the above applies to everyone you know – so – whether you like it or not – when someone walks into your office they bring with them all of their conditioned beliefs and information, as well as all their fears, and their pain – and these things then govern how they respond to you, to their work, to their colleagues, to their customers, and to life in general.

And you think that an engagement survey and some action planning will change how they feel? If someone is in pain and they learnt that, by acting like a victim and blaming others for how they feel they get some kind of momentary relief from the pain they feel do you think they will suddenly stop doing that? Because you issued some extra briefings? Not a chance

In reality they don’t even HAVE a choice – because at this point they are just reacting – and that is the best they got

Take Power – ohhh we love power, the momentary power we feel when we can control someone else choices – still just pain – the workplace is riddled with opportunities to gain a sense of power over another human being – and lots take it.

So – how do you know if people are in fear and pain? Do they lie, act like victims, get angry, get irritated, manipulate people by attracting praise, need to be right, are irresponsible, indecisive or procrastinating, feel inferior or superior, are critical, withdraw, get defensive, can be controlling, cling, run, feel ashamed or embarrassed, feel uncertain or apprehensive, do they blame, deny?? – it’s a condemning yet abbreviated list

What would your organisation look like without them I wonder??

I want to bring us back to quantum theory; you might say, true reality – the bending and absence of time, the bending of space, the granularity of the universe is hidden from view

And so it is with most of our conditioning – we were conditioned from a baby – really – I see live how I condition my children, and as I learn and grow I observe how I have told them information in the past that they took as absolute truth, and I later undertsand it as unhelpful for them – and what I mean is – unhelpful for their personal happiness – but they took it as truth.

I see how other people around them (school, friends, family) also pass on information that conditions them. The other conditioning is the link between pain and information – every single time we get angry, even mildly irritated with a child they associate the message and the pain together to come up with something like “am I not good enough then?”, “what is wrong with me?” – thus a lie is born – that their inherent worth is determined by what they do or say or believe or think or what someone else thinks of them, or even their very existence is an inconvenience to the world. It’s a painful lie – and it goes completely hidden from view into adulthood. Unless of course if you are capable of SEEING them for who they really are – not who they are pretending to be.

Carlo Rovelli, a renowned scientist, literally describes life as a dance at a quanta level – and so to it is in our lives, and in our companies

What defines the dance is how we individually respond to the quanta, or life, or people, or events around us

We must address two things in order to stand any hope of achieving this: the pain, and the information (the associations and judgements) – and this is done over time as we heal the pain

The pain is healed with much guidance and repetition from someone who is capable of doing so – we learn about our destructive behaviours and traits, the ones that have been inconvenient to other people all our lives, the ones that people judged us for, the ones that people didn’t like, the ones that we feel ashamed of, the ones we hide from the world – and we experience what it feels like for someone to look right into our soul and accepts us anyway – and over time, we begin to recondition ourselves, but this time, the right way up.

The information must be re-taught – this time – correctly

It is via the work of Dr Greg Baer, who has worked with thousands of people with astonishing repeatability that we are able to make this leap to re-condition the information and heal the pain so that we no longer simply react like puppets to life and events but finally begin to choose

And beyond this begin to experience a level of freedom not enjoyed by many, and most importantly for the application of the workplace: Begin the work to eliminate destructive behaviour, eliminate fear, eliminate pain, eliminate conflict, and free people up from these chains so they can function on a level they had not previously known.

It would not be exaggerating to say this would be a quantum leap in the understanding of engagement for an organisation to embark on, leading it’s people out of blindness and eventually pain that make us inefficient, ineffective, and actually, really quite destructive – to ourselves and others.

We can only give people an invitation, so in one final link to quantum theory let me leave you with this – the reason we stay in a (relatively) fixed position in relation to the sun is not because of gravity but the bending of space – the shear mass of the sun bends space so as to position the earth like it was in a giant funnel, and it just spins around the top of the funnel.

Emotionally balanced people, people who work on eradicated destructive behaviours, ones that no longer need to respond with disappointment, frustration and anger, ones that no longer need to try and control other peoples choices, ones that no longer need to lie and manipulate, ones that no longer need to respond with victim hood, ones that no longer defend, deny and lie, ones that are capable of seeing and accepting other people for who they they really are, ones who can see clearly, ones that are not blinded by fear, but work to become fearless – you might say these people grow in mass, emotional and spiritual mass, that helps the people around them to remain steady, the counterbalance can be quite astonishing – one person can have far reaching effects on any environment – and more than one??? You don’t need everyone – not everyone will even go – too much fear – but some will – and the results will be astounding – as Greg has already proven time and time and time again – you might say – it’s as reliable as gravity.

If you liked this post or think others can benefit from it, please like and share, or comment on what you learnt.

Tom