“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
- Pablo Picasso
Isn’t the same thing true about employees? New employees come with good credentials, enthusiasm, ambition, high hopes and many with a lot of passion. The challenge is how to keep up those qualities once they get melded in/sucked in to the organization’s systems for a few years.
A few weeks ago, I received one very touching and wonderful email (rarely seen such nice note) from a supervisor about the employee who was leaving the company. The note mentioned about significant contributions of this person, many beyond the normal job scope. It also stated the high value that the customer, partners and peers saw in this employee. The person’s “can do” attitude, high energy and enthusiasm had influenced and impressed whoever had interacted with her (me included). It was clear from the note that this person had made a big impact on whatever or whomever she had dealt with. I read the note over and over again until it dawned on me that this person that the supervisor wrote such a nice note was with the company for only 20 months (out of school). Now that made it even more powerful that in such a short time the person had made such an impact.
In my 35 years career, I too have been fortunate to have coached and managed many employees like one mentioned above. My experience with such employees is that they are not motivated by money or by positions, but more with constantly new challenges, trust in them to carry on big tasks (not treat them like kids or starters), reinforce their value to the company and provide occasional guidance. They are self-starters and as supervisor/coach one needs to just keep raising the bar. Some will stay some will move on (nothing personal, just that their reach may be farther than what current environment can offer) but whatever time they spent, they will make a big impact, enlighten and inspire others around them. In the words ofFriedrich Nietzsche, The surest way to corrupt such a person is to instruct him/her to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently. Give them freedom, trust and encouraging feedback about their value and create a culture where they will thrive.
From Pablo Picasso quote (applies to any Young* and Restless)
Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.
*young applies to both in age and mentally young.
One of the many stories I have covered in previous FRs.
"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Once upon a time, there was a family of three; a father, a mother and a son, who were traveling on a country road with their bull. By the time they reached a town they were very tired. The parents asked their young son to ride on the bull.
The people in the town saw them and started commenting, “What kind of a son would make their old parents walk while enjoying leisurely ride in such a heat?” The son, feeling embarrassed, got down and asked his mother to ride on the bull.
As they traveled further, they encountered more town people who commented, “What kind of a woman she is, making a poor child and an old husband walk in such a heat while enjoying the ride?” Feeling bad, the mother got down and asked the father to ride.
As they went further and reached a market, the entire crowd exclaimed, “What kind of shameless man would make his nice wife and a little child walk while relaxing on the bull?
He also got down in a shame. But realizing that they were very tired, they decided that all of them should ride on the bull. And you know what happened?
Half an hour later, the bull collapsed because of heavy weight on it and the poor creature died. The town people laughed at the family, “What kind of foolish people would do such cruelty against a poor animal?”
In the late 80s, a small and promising company with excellent intellectual property in Integrated Circuit (IC) design hired a CEO from a large company. The rumor had it that in his previous company, Mr. CEO was famous for implementing "programs of the quarter" based on the last seminar he attended or last publications he read. True to his reputation, Mr. CEO, after reading an article about the success of vertical integration in another company, decided to expand into the board and systems business. Soon after the 50-person company lost focus on their core competency, and wasted a lot of resources in a business that they did not fully understand. And like the poor bull, the company with great potential and direction collapsed.
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson