Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Once Is Not Enough

One mantra of many highly committed people is: once is not enough. In fact, when they have produced an extraordinary result, they are already planning the next accomplishment before the first is completed. They are driven by successful outcomes.

They are people who are often looking for a better way to do things. They sometimes solve a problem that no one ever thought was a problem. However, this is not to be confused with more, better or different. Nor should you mistake them for perfectionists.

The perfectionist is
paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong. When they have an idea, they consume themselves with processes that require them to continuously analyze and redo over and over until it is right.

The high performer, on the other hand, is distinguished by their ability to produce results. They are more likely to present an idea before it is perfect. They are less concerned about failure. To the observer, this may seem reckless. Except, because they are committed to outcomes, they will fine-tune the idea as they see people’s response to it. Once they see the idea has taken shape, they may be willing to let others perfect it under their guidance. 

Since they can easily move on to the next project before the first is completed, they can be disruptive to an organization. In addition, their desire to solve problems that were not problems for others can appear invalidating for colleagues or direct reports. It may even make them appear unmanageable. Yet, his or her intention is usually in the best interest of everyone involved.

One word of caution when hiring highly committed people. While they may appear to be unmanageable mavericks, it is important you direct their energy. Find out what they like doing best and give them some autonomy to produce results. Do not punish them for mistakes, however. It is more important to help them understand the lessons learned from the error.

Also, if they perform well in one discipline, it does not mean they will do well in another. In some cases, managers will take high performers out of their comfort zone because they believe they are good at everything. It is important to realize that the high performer receives a rush from great accomplishment. As a result, he or she is looking for the next rush before the project is complete. If you put them in a position that is undesirable for them, you may be left with a one hit wonder. They may even become disruptive to the enterprise in a negative way. Therefore, it is better to leave them where they are or coach and transition them into a new position. The transition gives them time to still achieve results in what they do well while going through the learning curve with the new responsibility.

Highly committed people do not have to be formal leaders in your organization. They may be informal leaders who establish the pace. If you acknowledge their desire for constant achievement, they will produce results that go beyond expectation. When that happens, all stakeholders win.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know. 

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