Experts and novices

Photo by Mai Le

Seth Godin has fascinating short post out today. He describes his own interpretation of The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. His conclusions:

1. Don’t talk to all your employees, all your users or all your prospects the same way, because they’re not the same.

2. If you treat an expert like a novice, you’ll fail.

I love point number one because I extensively write about it myself (for a summary, see here). The notion of equality must be banished from places it is not needed at. As Godin hints – in the area of marketing – and of course, in the area of managing people. If treat everybody the same we get cogs in a machine. The answer should be found in the idea of Equifinality. There are a lot of ways to reach success.  If we treat everybody according to their uniqueness we create variety which is beneficial. In the past, management practices were built on mechanisms of control that were intended to deal with heterogeneity. Today, this heterogeneity is need ingredient in the creation of innovation. We don’t need to control it, we need to embrace it.

But point number two is not less powerful. As I mention in my no more rules presentation, the use of rules and lose of judgment and practical wisdom is a short-run gamble for productivity. In the long run, only self-thinking, experts how develop practical wisdom through trial and error could produce tangible innovative, human connecting results. When you treat somebody like a novice, you are sacrificing his or her future ability because you prevent him from developing the qualities you need the most.

Elad

Share

Advertisements

How can we make employees go the extra mile…?

Photo by taberandrew

Bruce Temkin wrote today about how contact centers need to redefine their purpose; their raison d’être and that made me think about an interaction I had with a kind of a contact center.

I am in the process of applying for a Ph.D. in business administration. This means I have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. Because I am applying to a number of universities I need to make sure I follow the specific rules of each university. As an international student, the number of forms I need to fill and rules I need to comply is just enormous and I admit that I constantly get confused. As a client in this situation, I can attest that it is very easy to determine if a website is truly user friendly or not.

Anyway, in one of the applications I had a specific problem with one form which I wasn’t sure if I need to fill out or not. I sent an email to the Ph.D. admission office and got a reply. The reply said something like: “We think we know the answer, but we are not sure. You should contact the graduate admissions office”. I could not understand why they could not give me a straight answer, but I sent an email and the correspondence to the graduate admissions office. The reply said something like: “We don’t really know. You should contact the international student office”.

Think about how many service failures you can spot in this scenario. First, the fact that I could not even be sure by reading the instructions on the website. Then, when I approach someone who should be my contact point, he passes the responsibility back to me and points me somewhere else. This somewhere else turns out to be the wrong place and points me to a third place.

A few days ago I wrote about standing out as a manager after being inspired by a Jon Gordon blog post. It was so easy to stand out here. How would I have felt if the first representative wrote an email to me saying: “I was not sure of the answer so I contacted the graduate admissions office for you, turns out, it is the international students’ office that is responsible for this. Their answer is X. ” Honestly, they are working for the same organization. Shouldn’t that be clear? Isn’t that the obvious answer as it involves seeing me as a human being?

I am interested not only the fact that as a customer I feel like I did not receive adequate service but especially in the question what in the environment, culture and structure of the university makes employees refuse to give adequate service? What could these people managers’ have done to make sure that the reply will satisfy me? What is needed to make sure people go the extra mile to stand out?

I am not sure I have the answers. I know that an approach of Next as Seth Godin describes it today is part of the problem. I am guessing that rules have something to do with this approach. And I am guessing that these employees don’t see their service as a true calling.

What do you think?

Elad

Are you standing out as a manager?

Photo by Cameron Cassan

Jon Gordon wrote yesterday in his blog about standing out:

It’s not enough to just show up to work. In today’s economy you must stand out at work to differentiate yourself and your company.

And what are his examples for standing up? People that eagerly and passionately doing their work by truly caring and connecting with other people.

Isn’t is surprising that the species that came to dominate this planet, in large part because of its ability to create social structures and deep relationships is now so enthralled in being a cog in the machine, that all you have to do to stand out is actually act like a human being? There are not enough people who actually wake up and decide each morning to passionately connect with others. To lead through infectious being. We have all been that person who is happy to get exceptional true heartfelt service like Jon did. We have also all been the one who gives it whole and feels the difference being created, at some point or another in our lives. But organizational hierarchies, the psychological safety provided by dehumanizing others and lack of inspiration and passion all prevent us from waking up every day with an urge to make somebody else’s day.

What can managers learn from all of this?

First that it is easy, even as a manager, to stand out. The bar out there is so low and there is so much mediocrity that just by being human, you can stand out. When is the last time you really connected with your team on the human level? Second, that it is so easy to spot and find the people who are really remarkable. They stand out just by being human beings. If somebody does not act like a human being and does not try to make the extra connection and instead acts like a cog, well…, than he deserves to be a cog somewhere else. He made himself replaceable, so, replace him. And if you act like a cog, don’t be surprised that it will happen to you too…

How are you standing out as a manager?

Elad

Share