What does Success look like to you?
by Kevin Robert Crone
I bet it’s different than mine.
Imagine me with an entire Management Team, from the CEO to the latest new supervisor – in one room. There were about 150 of them and just me. To engage this group, I thought I’d survey them with a question, “Please raise your hand if someone over the last year has asked you (in a genuine way): What does Success look like to you this year?” Most stared at me or stared off into space and only about 5 hands rose. Looking around, I thought to myself, “That’s about right”. I then had them look around the room to see how few hands had risen.
Tough lesson from a guy they just met. I wondered what they were thinking… I’d still like to know.
Next I asked, “We work so closely with one another all year, why don’t we ask each other this question?”
I got a variety of responses like, “We’re too busy… Never thought of it…” and my favourite answer was, “I’m afraid of what people might say, what if we, or I can’t live up to helping them with it?”
We all had a good laugh at that very honest answer. I sensed a shift in that room. Thank goodness – because my intent was not to embarrass a very proud and successful organization that says they love their people, but to use that same desire of caring for their people, to help them all see it can be just that simple.
Sometimes we forget to do the simplest things, the most human of things, like — becoming genuinely interested in the other person’s view of what success would look like to them.
“So, if we don’t ask, what do we do?” I inquired again.
Without much hesitation, someone piped up and said, “We tell our people what success will look like for them this year.” More laughter and we all collectively agreed this is likely the case without even talking more about it.
How can we support one another if we don’t know what each other wants? What if what we want is similar and didn’t know it? Or worse, really, really different and didn’t know it?
Think of these questions in a few contexts:
• Do we know what our significant others want?
• Our colleagues?
• Or (oh my, here’s a big one) our customers?
Imagine the possibilities if we knew our customers view of what their success is, instead of trying to tell them what it is.
How can we help each other, encourage, coach and celebrate when people achieve success, if we don’t know what they want in the first place? We can’t.
Since this experience, I’ve asked just about every group I’ve been with the same questions and came up with the same response. This leads me to believe that this is likely the least asked question we ask others. “What Does Success Look Like to You?” Interesting, huh?
I say this is the big opportunity. An organizations biggest priority is: finding and keeping customers and the close second is: finding and keeping happy employees. Or should it be the other way around? All the evidence says so.
Cultural change starts with one person, and one inspired leader to be different from the rest. In this case, being different is simply asking, “What does Success look like to you this year?”
If I may begin… “So… What does success look like to you this year?”
I would love to hear the answer to that. If you’re inclined, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin R. Crone, President, Dale Carnegie Training®
Founder of Accelerated Talent Development, Performance and Profits.
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 328 or email@example.com
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