Ever since you were a kid, people probably told you how to fit in, how to dress alike and how to use the same tools to fit whatever job, profession or career that you were involved.
It might have been the High School English teacher who said there was only ONE way to construct a sentence or to tell you that “rules were rules” and must be followed. Too bad Norman Mailer, and Jack Kerouac, as well as several other famous author types never got that message; we would have been deprived of some powerful fiction.
Maybe it was your first boss or senior “peer” who told you “NOT to make waves” and espoused “that’s the way we do things around here” so “go along to get along.”
It was all about maintaining the status quo or to “show” that the department was trying to be more productive, to get faster and more efficient; rarely was it ever about getting better and doing things smarter.
It seemed like the safest thing to do was just try to fit in, (you found that out at your first meeting when you made a suggestion that everybody in the room knew was a great idea, but waited for the Boss to agree. When he saw that he wasn’t the guy to suggest it, he put it down and said, “Fred, after you are here a little while I am sure you will gain the experience to make more appropriate suggestions, but thank you anyway.”
And that was the end of your creativity. You were basically told to assume NO responsibility for your actions and make NO suggestions. Just be like everyone else.
“Damnit, just be average”, they would say without saying.
We have enough of average. We have enough of people doing just enough to get by. We have a surplus of employees who are afraid to speak up, to suggest any ideas, to challenge conventional wisdom and to do better. We run our centers, all too often, like a fiefdom. We are all knowing, thus we are the smartest guy in the room so who are we to listen to a lowly desk person (who only happens to greet and speak to our customers almost every day.
Now if you have these types of employees I have bad news and good news for you.
One, the bad news is that YOU created the problem by scaring the hell out of your employees for instilling fear in them that if they spoke up and challenged ‘the average” they would get fired.
Two, the good news is YOU are the only one who can fix it. Encourage your people not to be different just to be different.
Encourage then to be different to be better.
What do you think?