No, no, no, no, no, no!

Maybe I am just different, but I get REALLY annoyed when I see very smart people do, what I consider to be, very short-sighted things.

This morning I saw a well-known and highly respected leadership authority talking about how to teach leadership to young people.  (First strike was calling them millennials, but I’ll let that slide this time.) His contention: put it on their phone, give them an app and let them text each other.

This is when I shook my head and said, “no, no, no, no, no, no, no!”  Just like Lego Batman.

If you want employees to get their eyes away from the screen, you don’t give them MORE REASONS TO LOOK AT THE SCREEN!!!  This is especially true when it comes to leadership. Want to build someone’s ability to deal with conflict?  Put them in a conflict situation and coach them through it. Want to build up someone’s skill in providing real, effective and genuine feedback? Put them in that situation and coach them through it.  Want to help develop a new leaders decision making skills?  Give them decisions to make and coach them through the outcome. Are you seeing a trend here?

I get this guys desire to jump on the app bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean its right for every situation.  Got an app to track your steps?  Sure! Got an app to help keep your travel plans organized? Absolutely? But an app to teach people how to interact with another human being? I’m a little skeptical.

Why the skepticism from an optimist?  Because I have seen first hand the difference between how people act and interact in person versus online.  It’s quite literally night and day in many cases.  And leadership is about communication and relationships, which are built and sustained in person (or phone, Skype, etc. – someplace where you are interacting with another human in real time).  Just look at how many people feel alone even though they have a bazillion friends and followers on social media.

I’ve said it before… leadership is a full contact sport.  You’ve got to get in there, mess things up, make some mistakes, get humbled, have some success and LEARN from every experience.  It’s a journey that takes a long time, and is never really finished (if you are doing it right). And in my opinion, cannot be learned by looking at your phone.

Related: If you’ll be at IAAPA’s IAE18 in November, I’ll be talking about how to create a supervisor training program that fits any budget.

Whether you will be at the expo or not, if you are looking for an non-app based ready-to-go Supervisor Training Program, check out The Myth of Employee Burnout Supervisor Training Program. 

Hoping to see many of you at the Expo! It’s going to be a great week!

Thanks for reading!!

Matt’s IAAPA Don’t Miss list:

Motivation lessons from my billiards app

We all probably have our favorite “go to” apps to help us pass the time. Who hasn’t played Angry Birds or Words with Friends while waiting in line somewhere? For me, nothing passes the time like billiards.

In this particular version, though, I can’t seem to lose.

And I have tried to lose. The computer misses really easy shots, and won’t sink the 8 ball. The only way that player 2 wins is if I happen to sink the 8 ball before I am supposed to.

I thought maybe I was in trial or amateur mode, but there is no such setting.

So, I found myself pushing the envelope just to see what was possible. I started trying all sorts of combination and bank shots, I even “ran the table” sinking ALL the balls just to see what my opponent would do. My challenge was no longer in winning, I was actually trying to see IF I could lose or what I could get away with to see if that changed the outcome. It didn’t. I still won.

You’d think I would be happy with all that winning, but when the option of losing was taken away, the thrill of victory became a little less special.

Do you have employees who try to get away with the absolute minimum, or do things that are so outrageous that you just wonder what planet they came from?  Chances are they feel there will be no significant consequence to these actions – mostly because that is what you have shown them to be true in the past.

When there is no chance of losing your job, keeping your job seems a little less special.

Lessons from the app

  • Allow people to lose – Not everyone is going to succeed at a job in your company.  Don’t devalue your good employees by keeping the bad employees around.  You are essentially saying, “We’ll put up with anything.”  And that’s what you’ll start to get.
  • Challenge your employees – encourage them to push the envelope FOR the company, not in spite of it.
  • Don’t miss the easy shots – Correcting small missteps in performance and behavior when you first see them is MUCH easier than waiting for an employee to embark on a quest to see just how little they can do because they don’t think anyone is watching.

Have a leadership dilemma that can’t be solved by studying the billiards app?  Let me know! matt@performanceoptimist.com

Thanks for reading!