Today I attended Seth Godin’s launch of his new book – Linchpin. I am in the process of reading the book and I guess I will write about it a lot in the next few days/weeks, but for the mean time, I just wanted to share some quotes from the presentation that especially resonated with me. Many times during the presentation and going through the book I felt that many of the things I write about in this blog are explained by Godin (better of course, it is, after all, Seth Godin).
Should managers transform employees into Artists?
One of the main themes Godin talks about is the idea of Art. Not art in the meaning we all think about, but Art as anything creative, new, that changes the world and connects people. And one of the main things about artists is, as Godin put it today’s presentation is that they do their work without rules or manuals. This resonated with me as in the last few weeks I have been advocating here that managers should stop trying to create rules (also see here) with the original post being inspired, but Godin himself.
In his talk today Godin showed me another aspect of the same idea. If managers stop trying to create rules they will help take away some of excuses employees make against being remarkable and help them become … Linchpins (I urge you to look for the dictionary definition or better yet, buy the book). We need more workers who are artists. Godin points a finger to each and every one of us to take up the cause and become an artist (or Linchpins or Geniuses). I point my finger to managers. If there is one person who can help your employees become a Linchpin it is you. So why don’t you start by stopping with the rules. As Godin said today:
If you can write down what you do I can find someone else to do it cheaper.
How do you make sure your employees can not be replaced by someone cheaper? What will happen if you help them transform into something indispensable?
Another saying that deeply resonated with me in today’s presentation was this sentence:
The reason they want you to fit in is that then they can ignore you!
Now Godin meant this sentence to say that you should not fit in. You should try to become indispensable, a Linchpin. It made me think of something else. This is what I wrote a while back about how managers ignore those who are doing OK:
Managers concentrate on trying to “help” the struggling workers. Those who under perform. They think to themselves, hey – that guy who is doing OK doesn’t need me, he is doing OK. So they ignore him and work with the struggling guy. How does that make that make the “OK guy” feel? What is the message that this kind of behaviour sends to him? How does this affect his perception?
What is the problem with this scenario? Not only is the “OK guy” not being recognized, he is also doing OK. OK is not enough. A manager’s job is to make him excel. Average, is not enough. Helping employees excel starts by noticing and letting our employees know that we noticed. This is the basic elements of employee engagement and employee recognition.
Godin got it just right. We ignore those who fit the mold. We let them stay in their mediocrity and put our efforts somewhere else. If you are a cog doing its job, I, the manager, can ignore you. I want peace and quiet. And when employees only get management attention when they are out of line, they start doing everything they can to not be noticed by management – that means no risks, not extraordinary thing. Mediocrity. Management failure.