Friday, June 23, 2006

Egg to Omleette while preserving egg shells!

"You have to break a few eggs to make an omlette."

If our end goal is to make an omlette, then by focusing on that goal, we realize that if necessary we can make an omlette with least breakage to eggs. We have seen people doing intricate artwork on egg shells. How they do it? They make a smallest hole needed to get the contents out of the egg shell, dry it  and seal it back to prepare the egg shell for artwork. The contents removed can be used to make omlettes or cakes or whatever needs egg content (yolk and white).

Above mentioned quotation is a way of saying that you need to harm (or sacrifice) some people or things if you need to achieve something useful. It may be true. But, if preserving egg shells is also a concern along with the goal of making omlettes, then by being little careful, considerate and ingenious, we can achieve the goal and address the concern.

Do we have to alienate people just because we are trying to achieve something? Say, a project. Every project goes thru tough stages. Do you need to break eggs (people and relationships) to get the project done (make omlette)? Egg shells may be disposable but people are not. As we can extract contents of an egg by carefully making a hole, we can similarly extract best out of people by being careful and sensitive to their needs and emotions. This is not exploitation. It is what is called true motivation. It is the art of making people do what you want them to do. By creating such motivation, you let people want to do it and there is no other way to get the best out of people.

When we can ignore the rule and break some eggs? Actually, to make a good omlette, you need to separate rotten eggs from good eggs. Once you have identified rotten eggs, it does not matter what you do with them. Anyway you have to dispose them off. It is up to you how less of a mess you want to create when disposing  rotten eggs. Applying this to people and projects, it is unfortunate that some of your people have become rotten eggs. It may be due to you or due to factors beyond your control. Nevertheless, in order to reduce the stink from rotten eggs, you need to get rid of them ASAP if you want good eggs to last and if you want to enjoy the omlette in a stink free environment. This is to say that you have to get rid of people who are not working out despite your best intentions and despite your having made all the facilities available. They may be successful elsewhere and not with you and your place. Now comes the question of getting rid of the rotten eggs with least mess. If you are not careful, you may drop an egg or two during the disposal. If that happens, it is a big mess. Stinks bad. This is to say that if you do not get rid of your problem people carefully, legally and in a humanitarian way, you are going to have a lots and lots of problems. How do we avoid that? We need to have a good system of performance management for everyone for whose work we are responsible from the beginning. Keep good records. Manage performance continuously. Performance management serves two purposes. It helps you to improve the performance if the person is receptive and cooperative. On the other hand, it lets you get rid of the person correctly as the documentation required to terminate a person is nothing more than what you capture during continuous performance management process.

Terminating people, working on performance problems are last things we all want to worry about. Isn't life challenging as such without these unwanted distractions? Yes, but life does throw curve balls once in a while and we need to be able to deal with them. Just make sure that all your people interactions are compassionate, human and worth emulating.

If you have to make omlettes and if you have good eggs, do not break them to make omlettes. Just extract the contents  and use shells for good use. If  you have some rotten eggs, dispose them off gently without creating a mess which you would regret later. One last time to repeat, motivate people to want to do what you need them to do. Get rid of people who are not working out and make it a win-win for both. Chances are you and your non-working people were never meant to be together.


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