True Grit and the Marshmallow Test

When my daughter was in college, her softball team’s t-shirts had this saying on the back…

“Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.”

So while this title’s post may sound like 70’s rock band, it is, in fact, the core of some research on the future of work. In “The Future of Self-Improvement:  Grit is More Important Than Talent” the notion that as work continues to  dramatically change over the next 5 years; self control will become more important than ‘talent.’

This excerpt clarifies the concept:

“More and more, we set our own long-term goals, determine our own work schedules, work at an office or at a coffee shop, decide about what we focus on today, and tomorrow. But this freedom also brings a responsibility that demands a vastly increased capacity for self-control.”

The link between grit (hard work in the face of obstacles) and self control (the test of children who successfully delay eating a marshmallow) is central to the new way we accomplish work. Hierarchical work structures, standard job descriptions  and “siloed” work areas are already becoming ineffective work practices.

So how will you as a manager adjust to this new reality? How will you as an employee adjust? Will you lead the way with your own actions?  Will you educate and train yourself and your employees in grit and self-control? Will you make sure that your hiring practices are shifted to include these qualities?

We have a choice… we can determine those skills that will allow us to compete effectively like flexibility and focus or the rest of the world will get there before us. Take Duckworth’s Grit Scale Test here.

Image Credit: Inner Light News

New Executive Title – “Custserv/HR/Mktg/IT” Leader

Functions in the workplace are converging.  Social media is jumbling responsibilities at the enterprise at an alarming rate. Let’s take twitter for example.

You may know the online shoe retailer Zappos.com – they make a big deal out of using technology to give customers what they want and need 24 x 7. This is NOT because Zappos thinks that technology is cool. Their culture is totally built around superior customer service.  Check it out here.  Here’s an example of their twitter feed…

“Oh whoa! Truly sorry about that. We will try not to let that happen again. We had some slight hiccups in out Tweets today. ”

Check out Zappos employees communicating here.  And they are not alone.  Check out this tweet from a satisfied Southwest Airlines customer:  “Southwest completed my name change within 2 hours of my faxing them the info! #customerservice #newlywedtweet”

What about when an employee goes on GlassdoorFacebook  or twitter to complain about your company, whose responsibility is it to monitor and follow up?  HR? Marketing?

When things go wrong with a sale, who hears about it? The sales person? Customer service? Marketing? Maybe the IT department if it’s a web sale? Is response via social sites in your organization’s workflow?

Is a company’s Facebook or Twitter pages the responsibility of marketing, advertising, customer service or public relations? Smart companies are actually co-creating products with customers in real time. So now do the product development folks need to monitor twitter too?

What if I need to  download a 3rd party app to my desktop and cell phone to monitor twitter for my job… Does IT support that? Across which platforms (Apple, Blackberry, Droid or tablets?)

If you manage marketing, sales, customer services, human resources, IT or finance; are you paying attention? The head in the sand thing isn’t going to work any more.

Image Credit: All News Wire

Interview Question… How Weird Are You?

Maybe you’ve heard of a company called Zappos. In 1999, they began selling shoes on the Internet.  I remember thinking… no one will buy shoes online. I was wrong! In less than 10 years, Zappos hit $1Billion in sales.

What’s even more amazing about Zappos is their culture. It begins and ends with customer service. I mean real service. Sad that a focus on the customer is so unique.

But the real magic of the organization, according to CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay”) is in the hiring. When interviewing at Zappos you might be asked,

“What’s your theme song?” or “How weird are you?”

By asking these questions, Zappos finds out if you’re flexible, creative, funny and interesting.  So would you want to work in a place where these were the interview questions?  I would.

I’ve often said I’m a little too weird for the normal people but too normal for the weird people. So add this (maybe) to the list of interview questions to prepare. What’s your favorite interview question?

Photo credit: Miss Communications.com

Know Thyself and Carry a Big (Flexible)Toolkit

The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Aristotle

The more we know ourselves, the better team mate we are. Why? Because we can be both firm and flexible and put the team’s objectives at the top of the list  while tending to our own emotional needs.  A mature team is one that can innovate, cooperate and have conflict all while respecting each other. It sounds so easy doesn’t it?

You only have to serve on one team to appreciate the complexity of group dynamics and the way team member self-knowledge improves its effectiveness. One person’s “vision” can make a big difference but,  as a rule, one person doesn’t get the job done; the team does.

People love to talk about their great ideas and they don’t like it when I tell them that great ideas are a dime a dozen.“Look”, they tell me, “MY idea is amazing and if I only had x,  (money, support, marketing, etc.) I’d be a millionaire.”

If I had a nickel for every ‘incredible’  idea I’ve ever heard,  I’d be the millionaire. The truth is that having a good idea is the easy part; execution is the hard part and one of the most difficult parts of execution is getting the right people on the bus.

Flexibility, technical dexterity and the ability to work independently and interdependently are the critical skills we all need to hone.

The new work motto: Know thyself and carry a big (flexible) toolkit.

Photo credit: Blue Eyed Ennis