Sunday, September 19, 2004

How do you put out a fire?

How do you put out a fire? By dousing it with water! That’s right; to kill a fire you simply douse it with water. Now, how do you kill enthusiasm? Simple, by dousing it with water! Now, why and how you may ask, pour water on enthusiasm? I’m not really referring to physical water here, of course you know that. I used the analogy because enthusiasm is like a fire burning within an individual. People doused it with water by simply saying NO! STOP! THAT CAN’T BE DONE!

This is one of the most common management mistakes. Sometimes, an individual comes along with a new or an improved idea. Enthusiastically, he shares to the bosses, very confident that this idea would improve performance, cut costs, lead to better sales or really create big changes within the organization. But the audiences aren’t too keen on changes, they either dislike it or they fear it. For most old timers, changes may mean that what their current practices may no longer be acceptable no matter how effective they maybe in the past. And they can’t accept that, call it pride, call it ego, but for them nothing beats the tried and tested means.

Then there is the feeling of being threatened. These people with ideas may come on too strong for them, and they feel that they should slow them down before they gain their momentum. This is most especially true when the person with idea is young and new in the organization. “You just can’t barge in throw and your weight around!” This is the message that they would like to convey to the newcomer, no matter how good or excellent the idea maybe, more so if it’s a really good idea.

I have nothing against old timers, or management for that matter. And I’m not saying that all new ideas are good ideas. What I’m trying to say is all ideas are worth hearing. You may think that it’s just a waste of time especially if it’s a really bad idea, but think again, a bad idea may lead to a better idea. Someone has started a fire, don’t be the firefighter that would put out the fire. An idea, no matter how bad, didn’t come just for the sake of having an idea. An idea came out because there was something that needs working on, something needs to be improved, something needs to be solved - something needs to be CHANGED.

Enthusiasm, desire, drive, passion, motivation – seek for it from an employee, but be sure to be ready to support it. Be a bridge that would help them walk their way through, rather than being a wall that blocks their path. Remember that most great things that we have today – started from just a small, simple idea.

So how do you put out a fire? Simply by dousing it with water! And how do you kill enthusiasm? YOU DON’T!

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