I NEED TO KEEP MY JOB, AND PROTECT MYSELF QUICKLY
There are times when it is especially important for you as a leader
to do your homework and increase your knowledge.
- When your current organization is under financial stress,
- When reductions and layoffs are likely just around the corner,
- When going to work for a new organization,
- When getting a new job assignment or a promotion, or
- When major changes have occurred in your field of
knowledge or business climate.
Your goal is to learn how to perform the role with greater efficiency and with greater impact on the organization overall. Regardless of your role or position in the organization, you can drive stronger results from simple changes that you can make in your own behavior.
Keep a Skeptical Eye on New Information
It’s important to acquire and use knowledge selectively.
Even when trying to keep up with rapid changes in the
business environment has you stressed out, don’t let desperation
drive you to accept information uncritically.
Knowledge is highly variable in quality. Don’t be swayed
by fads and trends that have not been shown to make a
real difference. Look for high-quality, proven knowledge
that has measurably improved performance when applied.
Where should you look?
You’re more likely to uncover
useful knowledge if you focus your search in certain areas:
Visit the top companies;
observe their processes; see how their people apply
their knowledge and skills. (You can contact these leading
organizations through your local chamber of commerce or
the industry trade association.) Which parts of the process
are most responsible for the company’s outstanding results?
This kind of evaluation is known as benchmarking. Many
American executives laughed when visiting Japanese business
leaders benchmarked American industries in the ’60s
and ’70s, carrying cameras and snapping pictures as fast as
they could wind the film. They finally stopped laughing in
the ’80s when the companies the Japanese led surpassed
their U.S. counterparts. (Think Sony and Toyota.)
Most of the knowledge creators in any field
are only three phone calls or e-mails away. First, ask anyone
in the new field you are interested in to name someone
he knows who is a top expert. Then call the expert and ask
who has had the best success using the knowledge. This
gets you your third contact — an expert who knows how to
apply the knowledge.
Technical journals and proceedings
in university libraries, especially up-to-the-minute online
versions, can put you at the cutting edge of knowledge.
Sometimes professors who conduct or keep track of research
projects can be of help. Check university web sites for the
names of experts in your area of specialized knowledge.
Once when Side By Side, Inc. was helping Motorola develop a training course
in goal setting, we discovered “Mr. Goal Setting” himself —
Professor Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland, who
had conducted more hard research on corporate goal setting
than anyone. We called him, and he consulted with us
on his yet-to-be-published findings, which we used to create
a successful goal-setting course.
Create the knowledge on your own by comparing,
combining, and analyzing the results of other
people’s research studies and by performing your own experiments.
You will then become a knowledge leader, and
others will share their knowledge in exchange for yours.
Whatever method you use to acquire proven knowledge,
always keep in mind your personal, team, and organizational
goals and let them steer your learning. Then apply the
knowledge with the goals firmly fixed in your mind.
Action You can Take Today
If you recognize an opportunity to strengthen your performance for an upcoming more or even within your current organization, you may find the award winning book Side By Side Leadership helpful. It describes a thoroughly tested and effective model for improving personal performance, interpersonal relationships, improving personal and group motivation, and greatly helps to explain differences in individual values that are at the heart of most conflicts. At a minimum, we hope that you will give us your thoughts and comments. We are always excited to hear what people think. Here at Side By Side, Inc, we are committed to delivering leadership training and materials that deliver real bottom line results.