Doing the basic job required of us, in most cases, is easy to do. In fact we can often do much of what we do without having to really engage, invest and stretch ourselves.
We learn from an early age to follow instructions. To have our creative thinking ordered with a set of pre-determined decisions to create structure, harmony and order.
Certainly it helps to learn the consequences of taking actions that are outside of what is expected of us. However do we consider the dangers to progress if we merely look and teach others to comply?
How often do you hear “I do this because that is what is asked of me.” Or “I don’t do this, because the rules say not to.” In business we can often provide more processes, instructions and parameters to reduce risk and error margins, but what happens when it stops people from thinking or taking ownership all together?
In this past week, I saw two separate cases where perfectly intelligent and capable people were discussing a problem within their working environments. In being challenged as to why they did not see those problems as ones they could solve, the dutiful responses were offered around it not being their job, it wasn’t done that way, there was red tape, a usual way to solve this etc.
In reality, they had become compliant. Stopped thinking, stopped ownership, stopped engaging with the broader objectives and motivations for their companies and themselves.
It didn’t take long to unlock their thinking and to see alternate ways to own and solve the problems they were facing.
Unfortunately once I started looking for examples of compliance over engagement elsewhere, I started to see it everywhere – in customer service across multiple businesses, in my children, and in me. It has made for an interesting point for reflection.
Key to solving passive compliance is engagement ourselves and encouraging engagement in others. It is not enough to just observe or be present. Not enough to comply even if it gets you over the line and off the hook. What is required of us is to really engage with a problem you see and view it as something you can own, influence and drive towards a solution.
In these cases I refer to this week, by engaging with the problem didn’t mean these clients had to make the problem their own completely and feel the pressure to solve it on their own.
In both cases it was enough to shift the thinking from it being someone else’s problem to being “our problem” to solve. And to get them thinking about how they could lead and influence change. To think about possible options and opportunities.
Seeing the bigger picture and not being hamstrung by barriers – perceived or real, allows for progress.
By engaging fully with what you are hoping to achieve and not the process of getting there, promotes critical thinking and creativity. It brings action and results.
Where do you need to switch gears and move from compliance to engagement to really generate progress?