In business, the wrong mindset can be costly—affecting a company’s culture, its employees and its bottom line. There are four attitudes of business that should be avoided at all costs.
“We don’t know what we don’t know.”
By my own assessment, this is the most costly attitude in business. When businesses follow this mindset, we see an organization with leaders and employees that simply roll along believing and acting as though they are on top of their game, know all that is needed, and simply do the best they can with their set of circumstances. As a consequence, management loses their desire to search out new and better ways to conduct business. They quit asking questions, and lose their ability to learn more and evolve. They say, “I’ve seen it all!”
The top people of an organization must always ask questions, seek advice and realize that there is always room for improvement. Humility is the foundation of this pursuit.
“Pile on praise; avoid all criticism.”
The late, great Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The problem with people is that they would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” While it’s no fun to be constantly criticized, it’s even worse to be led down the primrose path being told that we’re great and that all is good. Conditioning personnel within an organization to avoid this mindset starts and stops at the very top of the company. Upper management must seek out personal improvement, and make this need known. This sets the precedent for others to follow.
A communication tool that greatly aids in this venture is to demonstrate thanks first and foremost for the things that people do well. By first emphasizing the positive subjects, people are then open to constructive advice as to how they can improve. Make sure to look to the future with constructive advice, and never connect a compliment with a criticism using the word “but.”
For example, avoid saying, “You really did a nice job in solving that problem, but you need to be more consistent in using this approach.” When such a statement is made, the receiving party only hears the criticism. A correct phrasing would be, “You really did a nice job in solving that problem. Keep up with this excellent approach when provided the opportunity.” Also, remember to speak in terms of “we” rather than “you” when sharing advice.
“Don’t rock the boat.”
Throughout my 40-year career, I’ve witnessed companies lose very valuable employees who were great innovators and leaders. These employees left because they were frustrated with their company’s inability to change and improve, or they were terminated because they “didn’t fit in.” In either case, the company lost a great asset and a great opportunity for financial improvement. This was due to an attitude of complacency—of opting to keep the peace by not rocking the boat.
To avoid this costly mindset, management should realize the value of those who push the organization for advancement, and those “pushers” should never give up, while working within the system at hand.
“Avoid expenses, at any cost.”
It continues to amaze me how many people in business fall captive to this mindset. When business leaders limit their expenditures and investments of money, time or effort to the greatest possible extent, their ventures are a total waste.
“The problem is, everyone is an expert on price, but knows the value of nothing,” Warren Buffet once said in an interview. Buffet went on to advise that it’s far more important to concern yourself with what you get than what you pay.
To avoid this mindset, business leaders should be certain of the desired outcome of any potential expense or investment, lock onto achieving it, and then buy it at a fair price. Expenses are a necessity of anything worthwhile.
Carl Tompkins is national flat glass sales manager for Sika Corp., and the author of the book “Winning at Business.” He can be reached at tompkins.carl [at] sika-corp.com. For more information on product development and innovation, see Tompkins' article, “Lead the Pack in Product Innovation,” set to appear in the May edition of Glass Magazine.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.