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Workplace Patience

Written by: Craig Twombly
Published: January 2009

In a recent news article the results on employee job satisfaction survey were released. The level of satisfaction has reached an all time low the article read. The number one reason was employees felt their job was boring. With the economy the way it is you would think most people would be happy just to have a job.  With that being true people still want to be engaged and enjoy what they do. Employee development is not only a need but a necessity and finding the time and the patience to develop people is part of the challenge.

ChartWe often spend time discussing the employment cycle. An employment cycle is the whirlwind people go through from the moment they are hired. The cycle looks like this:  A new employee is hired and the focus becomes quite clear to train him/her with the very best materials and to understand what the job requirements and everything in between. Once we have hired and trained an employee, we start the process of leading with clear expectations and clear directions. With great training and leadership the individual becomes part of the team and a productive member. Sometimes this happens quickly and sometimes it happens slowly. Usually at this point employees become the fabric of our daily lives and they become lost in the support piece. With support we continue to lead the team members but also support their goals and aspirations. This could be cross training them into a new role or handing more responsibility to them. With support it becomes a matter of time and patience.

Today time has become a precious commodity. When we go to the grocery store, there are express lines to get us through quickly. There is the quick lube to change your oil when you don’t have time to go to your usual mechanic. You can even get a movie downloaded in the blink of an eye to your television and how neat is that? These same traits have also followed into our work lives. We are under pressure to do more and to maximize every second of every day. When there is no time, our patience to make it through the next meeting with employees are sometimes lost in the hustle and bustle. The comedian Steven Wright said it best when he said "I took a course in speed waiting. Now I can wait an hour in only ten minutes."  Although humorous, it is very true in our lives.

When I look back at managing a restaurant, developing people took time and patience. Early in my career I was put in charge of training my replacement as a kitchen manager. I remember at first becoming frustrated with an individual who was not getting it as quickly as I’d have liked. Patience was a key to his growth and potential. I expected this individual to master items quickly.  Yes, I always wanted him to stretch and grow, but it always came down to time and patience. Instead of letting him struggle and learn, I would jump in to fix the problem, thus never giving him a chance to fail. By letting people fail they grow. This does not mean let the business perish with their decisions or lack of skills, but to let people struggle with projects and not give them the answers all the time. Again it's about time and patience.  As you develop someone, the chances are you might have already made the same mistake and you do not want them to fail. This comes full circle to coaching. In Transformational Coaching we spend time discussing ownership of issues and the difference between transactional and transformational change. By allowing people to struggle you are helping them to transform. By expecting people to master something quickly we could miss some key opportunities for growth and potential.

There are many items you need to master to be successful at the job. Instead of slowly teaching and developing the person, I spent two weeks force feeding everything that had made me successful.  It was not deliberate or systematic but time sensitive. We had two hours before dinner and I would teach him how to place an order. Teaching an individual how to master food orders in a four million dollar a year restaurant cannot be done in twenty minutes. By not having the patience and not being slow and deliberate, well I guess I will allow you to guess to the level of success this person initially had.

Here are a few thoughts to help with their success.

Craig Twombly

Craig Twombly

Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.