You often hear me say, “It’s about course-correction and not perfection,” a point I made in my last MANAGING POWER column. Life and business is a series of course-corrections. In fact, I would go so far to say that the person who is willing to constantly course-correct has a competitive advantage in the marketplace, as does the company committed to excellence. In this short article I talk about two kinds of course correction and what is needed to make the shift: the personal course correction and the business course direction.
Personal Course Correction
Personal course correction comes about because something you are doing, or thinking doesn’t align with your values or your goals. For example, realize that your impatience does not align with your role of teaching others.
In matters of personal course-correction, what is needed to help you make the shift is practice. Unfortunately, this means you need to welcome the experiences (or the drama) that trigger your impatience. Why, you ask? It’s only by “practicing” and fine-tuning that you shift from one who is impatient, to one who has learned how to practice the art of self-mastery.
Therefore, don’t be distraught if you find that you are feeling “out of the flow.” (Not a business term, I understand, but you also know what I mean!)
Awareness is the beginning, but without the opportunity to practice, you will experience what I call “double-mindedness.” You will want to “be” a certain way but will find yourself at the mercy of outside circumstances, situations or the behaviors of others, and therefore you will experience yourself as incapable of change. Not only does this experience contribute to workplace drama, but also to internal drama.
In this instance your course-correction is the practice of patience.
Business Course Correction
A business course-correction can be as simple as a training and development issue, a customer service snafu, an internal teamwork issue. (A third category is strategic course-correction, but I’ll save that for another article.) To make this easy to apply, let’s look at course correction as a customer service issue. An example I want to use is a recent experience in a grocery store where I saw a couple of “opportunities” for course-correction in the arena of training and development.
Upon thanking the young man at the seafood counter for steam cooking my fresh seafood, his reply was “Yep” instead of “you’re welcome” or ”my pleasure.”
Then, upon checking out, the young grocery-sacker took the wrapped package of freshly steamed fish and tossed it upside down in a paper bag. When I got home, liquid had seeped out of the saran-wrapped package and onto my car.
This type of course correction is simply a matter of training. Training is always about elevating awareness, and that may include giving feedback, testing, or formal methods of measuring competencies. In this instance, a simple conversation and a secret shopper and a couple of evaluations is all that is necessary. Let’s face it, although it might seem like common sense to you, your employees can’t fix what they are unaware of.
What Is Needed to Make the Shift
Start with awareness of where the employees are falling short of delivering excellent customer service. This can be done via customer feedback, surveys or other methods of evaluating perception.
An easy way for a manager to begin course-correcting before secret shoppers and surveys is to look at the mission, vision and values of the store. Three of the principles of this company are service, selection, and value. In this instance, I would say that course-correction in the area of service could serve as a competitive advantage for this store, given the fact that across the street is a top competitor who in my opinion beats them on service and selection.
In life and business success is less about perfection and more about course-correction. A commitment to perfection encourages denial, deceit and even cheating for the purpose of “looking good,” whereas a commitment to excellence is always about the willingness to course-correct.
—Marlene Chism is a professional speaker, trainer and the author of Stop Workplace Drama, (Wiley 2011), and a regular contributor to MANAGING POWER.