keys to success successful leadership

The Negative Power of Never

Have you ever built a piece of furniture and partway through realized you’re missing a piece or missing instructions, and the whole task is completely impossible? I don’t know about you, but IKEA stumps me like this quite often. keys to success in leadership

Why is it that experiences like this are some of the most frustrating? Is it because you know you’re seconds away from achieving your goal only to be duped by some outside force? And then how can we achieve the impossible? It is frustrating. It’s defeating, and it frequently sparks feelings of hopelessness. “I will never get this dresser built.” It makes us think never; the ultimate hopelessness.  keys to success in organizations

What ‘Never’ Means for our People

The real reason the whole furniture problem became a problem in the first place is because there was a missing piece. The resources needed to complete the project successfully were lacking. 

In this same way, if organizations don’t provide their teams with all the necessary resources, then employees will fall short of reaching their goals. They will fail time and again. It will become apparent that “never” is a common word in their organization’s vocabulary. Unfortunately, this fills your employees with the same sense of hopelessness as they experience the frustration of being stuck through no fault of their own. 

A Caution to Companies

So this might be easy to picture in the furniture example, but what does this look like within organizations? Because trust me, it happens. There are oversights, and employees end up having no means to accomplish anything. This affects all aspects of their work, from the very menial parts of their job to their most important functions. 

Picture this: An organization has a customer-facing frontline. A customer comes in one day and is fed up and angry at their customer service. They want to file a complaint. But the organization handles customer service through a third party. The frontline employee essentially has their hands tied at this moment. They cannot solve the customer’s problem for them, regardless of whether or not they want to. Their organization’s system requires that the customer goes through a third-party customer service provider. 

Make it Easier not Harder for Your Employees

The customer already tried to go through this third-party provider and couldn’t get through or wasn’t satisfied with the response. This employee now faces the brunt of the frustration that the customer is rightfully experiencing. But, the employee has to follow their procedure and turn the customer away. Their only option is to encourage them to try the flawed third-party system again. The employee cannot offer them any consolation, no freebie, no discount, nothing more than an apology for something they have no control over. 

If you’re like me, then you just read this example, and your skin is crawling. Because ahh! The impossibility of it all! The barriers in place prevent the poor employee from having a positive interaction with the customer. As a result, the customer leaves more upset than when they arrived. The employee’s morale is defeated, and yet they know this same occurrence will happen again. And again. And again. That is unless something changes at the organizational level. The only way for that employee to take control of the situation is if they have the resources to do something about the issue. 

Organizations, I beg of you, do not leave your employees powerless. Let them solve issues on the frontlines and at every other level within your organization. Provide your teams with the resources to stamp out those little flames before they turn into raging wildfires that will quite literally never be put out. Instead, they will burn through your organization’s reputation and morale quicker than an angry customer can storm out the door. 

The Risk

What’s worse than an angry customer storming out your door? Your team walking out that door. 

Your team giving up is worse. And if your employees don’t have access to the necessary and simple resources to do their jobs, they will lose hope, trust, and loyalty. They surely will leave. Look around. People are leaving their jobs in flocks larger than ever before. If you want to keep your people, which I’m sure you do, then set them up for success. It will save your organization in the long run.