Vail Daily column: Trying hard vs. getting things done
Managing a team or a project at work is much like parenting.
Let me explain. My biggest challenge as a leader of a team and as a parent is one and the same: Teaching that no one cares how hard you try, but rather what results you deliver.
Whoa. That is seemingly contrary to today’s teachings that it’s not important to keep score or that results don’t matter as much as effort. It’s contrary to the belief of “giving it the old college try.” Make no mistake, it’s rare that those who try the hardest are not the most successful; results are almost always directly tied to the effort put into them. As Vince Lombardi said, the “dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” Hard work leads to success in most every case.
In the end, it is really the results that should matter and it’s results that we as a leader in the workplace — and as parents — should focus on. We need to focus on results and provide tools for our employees — and our children — to succeed. This focus on results is often lost as we culturally celebrate those who spend the most hours chained to their desk or we celebrate how busy we are as we return emails at 11 p.m. from our mobile devices. But being busy shouldn’t be mistaken for being productive; much like trying hard shouldn’t be mistaken for results. These things are often related; busy people are often the most productive and those who work hardest often have the best results.
This focus on trying needs to change, and in my view it’s not a matter of if organizations will change; it’s a matter of when each one will make their move. The move itself is inevitable in order to meet the demands of shifting workforce demographics and our increasingly global customer base. Consider these upcoming changes in the workplace:
• Roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 today, and about 10,000 more will cross that threshold every day for the next 19 years. (Pew Research Center). Of significance, many people in the “trying-hard generation” (those who feel the need to be chained to their desk from 9-5) are retiring and are being replaced by a new generation that values flexibility in the workplace.
• By 2020, at least 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will consist of millennials (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and millennials’ tenure in their jobs is just about 2.3 years and 91 percent of millennials only expect to stay in a job for three years or less (Bureau of Labor Statistics). How will this impact our economy and our employers?
• Population growth in Eagle County is forecast to almost double by 2040 to over 100,000 residents (Colorado state demographer, November 2013), which will enviably result in impacts or our local workforce needs. How will employers handle this growth? Do we have the workforce housing in place to accommodate this influx of people?
• The bulk of employees worldwide — 63 percent — are “not engaged” (meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes). And 24 percent are “actively disengaged” (indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers). In rough numbers, this translates into 900 million not engaged and 340 million actively disengaged workers around the globe (Gallup). How will our customer service dependent economy (both tourism and professional services) adapt?
• Eighty-nine percent of organizations will offer mobile work styles by 2020 in response to employee demand, data security and business continuity requirements, as a solution to lower costs, and in direct response to pressure from senior management (Citrix).
Granted, some of these changes are global and we obviously have no control over changing demographics or cultural workplace standards. However, the changes are happening and we can (and should) prepare as we are primed to directly benefit from some of these changes. Here in the Vail Valley, we are primed to directly benefit from some of these changes given the nature of our resort economy.
Consider the impacts of I-70 and the challenges of peak time travel due to a standard workplace culture that requires employees to be at their desk at 8 a.m. on Monday morning. In many work environments, being at your desk at 8 a.m. is an artificial barometer of how hard the employee is “trying.” Compare this to a work environment that celebrates an employee’s output without regard to hours spent at their desk. This employee can return to the Front Range on Monday morning, avoiding peak travel time and congestion on the interstate, and is more likely to be engaged in their work due to being judged on results and having the opportunity to enjoy their quality of their life.
The weekend spent in Vail or Beaver Creek, multiplied by our large target audience in the Front Range, creates a business opportunity here in Eagle County. Our workforce — much like our children — should be judged on their results and not based on trying hard. The businesses — and life lessons — are immeasurable.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.