Do You Dare to Build?

A couple months ago I was working with a small bank on their performance review process.  The first three categories of this process were as follows:

I was absolutely shocked!  Can you imagine walking into your job review, being told everything that you are doing wrong, or not above average, then sent out the door with list of other ways you can be better at work?  Talk about a shortcut to demotivation!


After spending a day job shadowing staff within the bank, I saw a lot of people afraid to make mistakes, not innovating, and merely trying to subsist until they were “allowed to leave.”


To me, this was entirely backwards.  By focusing on weaknesses, this organization was identifying what their employees were not.  You see, a weakness is simply a missing or underdeveloped strength.  By dwelling on these weaknesses, this organization was teaching their staff that they were not capable, whole people, that they could not succeed, and that they were not good enough people to work there.


The next several conversations were with senior executives within the bank. I shared with them the power of a strengths-based approach to staff development, or people-building.  Through the sharing of resources dating back to the 1960’s and the work that Joe D. Batten did around strengths-based leadership and management caught the attention of executives.  Through ongoing discussions, we put together a plan to shift the organizational climate within their organization.  The plan started with all managers and leaders taking a people-first, strengths-based, expective mindset with their staff. 


Additionally, every bank employee was challenged to reflect and process the following idea I developed for the organization, and it was hung prominently in the conference room.


“Progress is not the advancement of technology, but rather the development and evolution of people.  Who do WE want to become?”


Then, we developed four key concepts to start building others. 


Here they are:


1. Dare to have tough-minded and stretching expectations for yourself and others, but set reasonable expectations. Tough-mindedness is personified through flexibility, resiliency, a love of change, and a supple, ever-learning mind.


2. Expect the best from people. Know that one's best AND your best vary on a daily basis. As long as you gave the world your best that day, you can sleep peacefully, waiting to give your best again tomorrow.


3. Be loving, unconditionally loving, in a professional way. Be quick to build on strengths, not to dwell on weaknesses.  Find what others are good at, celebrate those strengths and build on them. A weakness is simply a missing or underdeveloped strength. If a weakness is something you are not, there is no reality to it. Believe in people and use the toolkit that sits atop your shoulders. Find the tools you excel at using, and use them.


4.  Be innovative. Seek out what is possible in life. So many people get hell bent of deciding if they see the glass half empty or half full, I challenge you to figure out how to fill the glass.


Did you know that Steve Jobs once outlined five key components he needed for a prototype. After two days of senior executives working on the project, they accomplished 4 of 5. The team lead came to Jobs and said we can do all the components except for #5. Jobs smiled, put his hand on his team member's shoulder and said, "we're going to need #5".  Jobs followed-up every day, sharing what was going right with the project, but still setting high expectations for his team. In the near future, they accomplished #5, and the iPod was born.


So please, go and build. Find a way to fill the glass of those that need watering, but remember to keep yours full, and share the excess fullness (and I don't necessarily mean money) with those around. That is how you truly become rich.


Do you dare to build?


More about Steve

Steve Havemann is the President of AskListenHear training and development.  Through this work, Steve aims to help others think, and act, more positively and  productively.  This work resulted in the publication of his first book, The Excellent Persuader.  Steve has served as the VP of the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association for two terms, was an officer with the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network, and recently graduated from Leadership Iowa.  With a background that includes working with youth with multiple barriers, Steve is still active in mentoring several youth and young adults who are transitioning to adulthood.  A native of Des Moines, he graduated from Central College with a degree in Communications and Political Science, and earned his Master's degree in Adult Learning and Organizational Performance at Drake University.  Stevebelieves that "Progress is not the advancement of technology, but rather the development and evolution of people."  He also loves coffee and conversation, so please don't hesitate to contact him