Strategy : Is Your Team Suffering from FWTS?

Mark Rosenberger, CSP helps companies transform employee performance, productivity and sanity. He is a sought after speaker, performance strategist and author of six books.

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Who do you know who is feeling stuck, under-performing or dealing with frustration and upset?
These folks might be suffering from FLAT WORLD THINKING SYNDROME! (FWTS)
"Flat World Thinking Syndrome"
is the number one issue standing between predictable performance and breakthrough performance. Allow me to illustrate...
For hundreds of years (and perhaps thousands for that matter) mankind believed the earth was flat. Their perspective on the universe held the planets and the sun revolving around the earth. Sailors were afraid to lose sight of land on sea going journeys because they knew if they went too far, they'd fall off the edge.
The fear of falling off the edge of the earth really put the dampers on exploration. The fear was the result of "FWTS." Then comes along Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who in 1612 confirms the Copernican theory using his newly designed telescope, that the earth is indeed round and the sun is actually the center of the universe.
Was Galileo's discovery readily accepted by the thinkers of his day? NOT AT ALL! In fact, he was given the choice at the Inquisition of 1632 to recant his theory or die. He decided dying sounded like a tough option so lived until his death as an old man under house arrest.
Moral of the story: Flat World thinkers are not necessarily interested in new perspectives. They're interested in the comfort zone and being RIGHT! As a result, they stay stuck.
"Flat World Thinking Syndrome" shows up in our business lives.
The Business Flat World Perspective: There are hundreds of illustrations we can pull from the business world. Perspectives and strategies that worked in 1982 are outdated today. For example:
The Customer Is Always Right! (FWTS Model) :
Let's face it; the customer is NOT always right. Yet for years, we tell our people the customer is always right! What's the danger in this message? Your credibility! If I'm the new hire on your team, it doesn't take long for me to figure out what you're saying and
what I'm experiencing are two different things. My B.S. meter goes up and your credibility goes down. Credibility goes down and then trust begins to erode. And then…well, you get the picture.
I recently reviewed a company's new employee orientation process. One of the first items out of the trainer's mouth was: "The customer is always right!" You could feel the eyeballs roll and resistance increase by the audience members. That's the FWTS method.
New approach: I believe the solution is to talk straight with the new hire and all employees. Tell them the customer isn't always right. Tell them the truth. Then coach the team on the "game" we play: to have every customer hang up the phone or walk out the door saying, "I Got WOWed!".
With the "I Got WOWed!" goal in mind, you'd coach me on the skills I need to win. You'll help me see what a "good business decision" is built upon; you'll help me gain confidence in dealing with the three to five most common customer upsets. Then you'll support me in figuring out how to help customers leave the experience saying: "WOW!".
Which leads me to...
Training Employees: I've heard it said, "Why spend money on training employees? They'll just leave." That's a Flat world, narrow perspective on the topic.
My thought is: You might train them and they might leave; but what if you don't train them and they STAY? Which is worse?
In fact, you can build a solid "Return on Investment" case for effectively training new hires. Here are but a few examples:

  • With effective training, you set people up to win sooner in their job-and people like to win!
  • Give employees life skills and they'll hang around longer if they believe they're gaining skills they can use down the road.
  • You send a message that you're willing to invest in your human capital!
  • Customers have a better and more consistent experience with educated, informed, trained employees!
  • The rest of your team will experience fewer headaches and hassles because folks know how to succeed on their job! 

How's that for a quick list!

Let's bottom-line this topic: You cut turnover as a result of the above benefits. People will stay longer where they feel valued and are set-up to win! You improve performance and productivity-and who can argue with those results?
Moral of the story: Be on the lookout for Flat World Thinking Syndrome! Challenge the sacred cows in your organization! Be willing to examine old methods in order to produce new results!  Be open to new possibilities. After all, who knows enough about life to be sceptical?
And one more thing...have some fun in the process!

2005 © Mark Rosenberger All rights reserved. 

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