IT ALL STARTS WITH A CHANGE … IN REALITY!
Have you ever had an “OMG!!! I didn’t think you could do it that way” moment that was so impactful that it changed your reality? You know, that point in time where your realized everything you thought you knew about something was wrong. And it caught you completely by surprise?
Some call this an Aha! moment, some use other words that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. But it is definitely a moment. The funny thing is, when we have these moments, they can be so significant that it makes us really wonder “what else could I possibly be wrong about”.
I had one of these moment. The funny thing is, as you accept that these moments are opportunities to review why you thought the way you did, and then how to learn and grow from them to be better, you begin to look at other less significant moments in the same light. And as you incorporate this type of thoughtful analysis into your daily reviewing of everything you do, it now becomes an analysis of
what could have gone wrong, but didn’t, and because it could have,
the steps that may have to be tweaked to make sure the thing that didn’t happen this time won’t happen next time.
So, what was that moment? Well, for me it was in the mid 1990s and I was roughly 3-4 years into my profession as a Property Appraiser. When you are in your mid 20s, a couple of years out of post secondary schooling, and making good money with no kids, you kind of feel like you have made it. Everything you have done up to this point has got you where you are today. So as any typical 20 something year old, I kept on doing what I was doing. Question is… what was I doing?
I was bright enough to have a strong understand of the principles of valuing numerous types of property for property tax purposes and was building my skill set to analyze and value real property (houses, apartments, and commercial properties). I was an avid learner, always asked questions, and always tried to find ways to make things better or more simple for the next time I had to do it. I did this for everything except how I managed things.
I’m not sure what school was like when you were growing up, but for me I had very well meaning teachers. Some had a knack for getting you to think outside the box, thank you Mr. H in high school math, while others wanted you to memorize the teachings for the exams, of which memorization was not a strong skill for me. One thing they didn’t teach me was ‘how do we manage our tasks, our relationships, our disagreements, our ability to work with others’. This is one of the most important skills everyone needs once we get into the real world. The only way most of us learned these things was by way of trial and error with our class mates and team mates.
So now, 7 or so years removed from high school and working as a Property Assessor, I was now faced with interacting with professional business people, property and business owners with considerable knowledge and wealth, and co-workers with similar, considerably more, and somewhat less knowledge and experience than me. My approach to managing my tasks, my processes, and my relationships with these different groups of people was the same approach I used to get through all of my school years. That’s all I knew.
Now I should add at this point what type of person I was. I could socialize with my classmates, was good at telling jokes and funny stories, played school sports and was able to be very competitive against other athletes. But in reality, I was a talker, but not a schmoozer. I couldn’t jump into a conversation others were having. Nor could I go up to someone I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and begin talking to them like we have been best friends all that time. Forget about going to someone I didn’t know to strike up a conversation, especially if I needed something. If someone was older than me, I automatically looked at them as someone superior to me. So with a school system that didn’t teach you things like “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, you had to learn to survive on your own.
So now I’m in my profession as a Property Assessor in the mid 90’s, with logical knowledge and what I’d like to think is raw social skills, and I am thrown into this new world where the rules of the game to succeed are drastically different. Now back to the question earlier in this article, “Question is … What was I doing?”
My style of managing tasks, responsibilities, relationships was pure and simple. If I was in charge of something, I tell them what they need to accomplish, a couple of steps they need to do, then leave them to get done what needs to be done. When their results were sub par, I could just conclude that I should have just done it myself. So the more responsibilities I got, the more things I did myself. Dealing in business with people I knew was tough at times. Very tough.
Now how does this relate to the title of this blog? Well up until this point in my career, I could just conclude that if I wanted to get something done, it was best to get it done myself. Others just didn’t understand what I needed to get done and if I had to spend time with them to make sure they did it correctly then it was just quicker to do it myself.
But then the municipality I was working for hired a new Chief Assessor (my Manager). And that is my when my reality began to change. I won’t use his full name, but Gerry, you know who you are. To be quite honest, I don’t think he really knows the impact he made in my life. So what did I see Gerry do? To be quite honest, he showed that he cared about the team and the organization. I don’t ever recall him getting angry or upset. I do remember him always asking questions, some questions that in the past were reserved for the Chief Assessor and his/her superior to discuss at a higher level. Gerry wanted to know what his staff thought. That had a huge impact on me. I remember the feeling it gave me to know that someone was genuinely interested in what our opinions were (and they should at least ask… we were the ones in the trenches doing a lot of the work). And with our contributions, we saw changes implemented that were talked about in our discussions.
There were a lot of learning moments when Gerry was the Chief Assessor, but there was one particular time that “Changed My Reality”. We had hired two temporary clerical staff to help our team out in the office. There was one project that I needed to complete and asked Gerry if I could use the two temporary clerical staff. Gerry agreed. So away I went, brought them to my office, and proceeded to tell them what they needed to do. Once I was done, I sent them off to get it done.
When they came back to me to let me know the project was complete, I was happy. Unfortunately, the happiness didn’t last very long. One of the other members of our team looked into the work and found that there were a number of errors. Errors big enough that we had to do the project all over again. Time wasn’t on our side to get it done a second time. So what did I do? Being frustrated, I called the two temporary clerical staff in and explained to them that the work they did was not correct and that because they did it wrong, we had to do it all over again which would now bring the cost of the project up considerably.
Now feeling like I did a good job managing, giving heck where heck was due, I went into Gerry’s office to explain what had happened and where the problem was. It’s funny how a guy like Gerry, always nice and pleasant, could change my reality in a way that made me not want to get angry with him while he pointed out the problems in how I managed the task. He asked me a couple of questions to understand what happened, then asked me something very similar to this;
“When you brought the temporary clerks in at the beginning to explain what you needed done, what did you explain to them?”
So I told him what I said. And I was pretty proud of how I explained it to the temporary clerks.
He then asked “Did you ask them to repeat back to you the steps you explained to them? You know, our profession uses a lot of technical words that only mean something to us, but not to the rest of the world. If you were not an assessor, do you think you would have understood some of those sentences?”
It was at that point I felt I was teleported back to being 17 years old, helping my dad lay some patio stones under the deck. Dad knew how to do things very well, so when he wanted me to help him with the patio stones, and I didn’t understand what he meant, he got frustrated that I didn’t know how to do what he wanted me to do (and now being a father myself I can sure relate to what he felt). I remember saying to him “Dad, unless you expect that God is going to upload the information from your brain and download it into mine, you need to tell me how to do it in a way I can understand.” And those were the exact words I remembered hearing in my head when Gerry said what he said. That was the day there was a Change in my Reality.
I had heard many time “Walk a Mile In Someone’s Shoes Before You Judge Them” but this was the first time I really felt those words. After my conversation with Gerry, I called the two temporary clerks back into my office. I remember apologizing to them, telling them that I had a large role to play in their success and I let them down. I apologized for getting upset at them and also offered to help them to get the job done. This time I was not telling them what to do, but showing them and doing it with them. The funny thing is, I remember how good I felt owning up to my failure. Something that solidified that this really was a Change in my Reality.
That reality change had a huge impact in my life. From that point I began watching Gerry and how he worked with us, interacted with us, and made us feel like we all succeeded as a team, and not individually. I will probably use more examples in future blogs or podcasts, but for now the point is this was my Change in my Reality.
Now some call these moments Aha! Moments. Call it what you will. It impacted my life considerably. From that point to today, some 20 years later, I have gone through a metamorphosis, an evolution in how I manage processes, relationships, etc. I learned that there is a lot of people like Gerry who have ways of managing things far better than me. Some of that learning has been from people who have been in my life, some have been from interviews I have watched and listened to, and some from the books I have read. My 20 year evolution has allowed me to challenge myself in how I manage my work, my life, my everything.
I’m not perfect. Not by any means. But I do use a managing process that I have continually evolved since my change in reality moment. An evolution that has taken almost 20 years to test, revise, and tweak over and over again until the process consistently gave me better results. And now it is the only system I use to manage everything at work, and at home.
What is this system? We call it “Managing Made Simple … cause it sure ain’t easy”. Managing anything in life is not always easy. We all know there are things we do in our lives to make things that are difficult a little more simple by using tried and true processes we trust. That is all Managing Made Simple is. It’s a process that can be as complex or as simple as you need it to be. It allows you to take all those processes you already know work and implement them into this system. This is a system that shows;
The relationship between stress and control,
What causes stress and what control looks like to limit stress,
How to help you be more pro-active than re-active,
How to establish accountability in a positive environment,
How to recognize what passion means to you and your team,
How to address accolades, rewards, and positive motivation,
How to define expectation,
How to define results,
How to find win/win solutions,
That although most managing systems are based on task focus or relationship focus, there is a third way, “Process” focused, which includes the best features of task and relationship management,
How to measure decisions via a risk/rewards testing,
How to define who your customers really are, and what does that mean to you,
The difference between training and mentorship,
What needs, goals, and wants are and how to rank them,
How to address conclusions based on feeling vs. logic,
How to keep your eye on a moving target with continually changing resources and expectations,
and some much more.
A process should not pick and choose who should be held accountable to it and who shouldn’t. Managing Made Simple ensures that everyone is held to the same level of accountability. It also creates an environment where everyone works hard to make sure everyone is succeeding.
All of this started because of a moment in time where I experienced a Change in Reality. We here at Managing Made Simple believe that everyone should have the opportunity to make the things in life, in business, considerably more simple, minimize the stress and increase the control they have in their environment. Life is too short to not grab onto that opportunity. Managing Made Simple is here for you, whenever you are ready, today, tomorrow, next month, next year. Only you can be your biggest supporter in making a better you. When you are ready, Managing Made Simple will be here to be your second biggest supporter.
SO, HOW CAN WE HELP YOU BE A BETTER YOU?
Leave your comments on this article. Let us know what you liked, and what you have questions on (our mantra is “There are never any dumb questions … only dumb answers … which means all the pressure is on us). Let us know what you are looking for help in. Let us know if you have had a Change in Reality, and what was that moment. You have a powerful opportunity to direct our blogs and podcasts.
Till We Meet Again Next Week ….
Managing Made Simple