• Saying it is as good as doing it…. right?

    Saying it is as good as doing it…. right?


    There’s a certain theory put about by Derek Sivers that suggests you shouldn’t tell others your goals if you really want to achieve them. His reasoning, and it makes sense to me, is that we get to ‘live the experience’ just in the telling, including the release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins into our brain. This ‘sense of achievement’ dilutes our drive to pursue the real thing and as a result compromises our ability to achieve our goals. This is quite controversial in goal setting theory as most proponents would advocate the ‘make it public’ aspect as a catalyst to increased accountability. I’ve put a link to Derek’s TED talk at the bottom of the post if you’d like to view it.

    The reason I’m sharing this with you is that I think organisations suffer from this same ‘saying it is as good as actually doing it’ syndrome. Just think for a moment about some of the statements yours or other organisations make. Family Friendly, Employer of Choice, People are our Most Valuable Asset, Environmentally Sustainable, Corporate Ethics, Employee Wellness etc etc. Now when you peel back the covers of most of these organisations you still tend to find a mishmash of failed programs, behaviours that are inconsistent with statements, unwritten ground rules that fly in the face of each of the above. I can personally think of hundreds of these examples where the reality doesn’t match the rhetoric.

    In one recent example I was engaged to deliver an outplacement program for a business shedding a large number of staff. These staff were long-term employees (avg 16 yrs), mature workers with skills in an almost obsolescent field. Now made redundant. They were presented with an option, Career Transition Assistance (CTA) or $1,000 to spend on training. The company appeared to be doing the right thing. “We will support our loyal employees in their transition to ensure the least amount of psychological harm and financial distress.” Nice. Now all the executives feel good that they’re offering these programs and can ‘tick the box’ for corporate responsibility. What happened behind the scenes was tragic. Employees were either not told about CTA, or in some cases were discouraged from engaging, to the point that not one employee turned up for a meeting to find out more about what CTA entailed. It is different for every person. Some people want career guidance (what next?), others want help with job search (how do I find jobs?), where others again need help with the written applications (resumes etc) and another group need support with interviews and finally support in negotiating employment contracts and packages. Given that this group of employees are high risk (mature, obsolete skills, dependant on income) I believe attendance should have been mandated so at least they could make an informed decision about accepting or rejecting CTA. Now given that the employer does not pay unless an employee engages our services I can’t help but be suspicious of their motives. Perhaps part of this reason is that they already ‘feel good’ about the support they’ve made available. Can they, hand on heart, say they did everything possible to support their people? Probably not. Does it matter? Probably not, at least to the executive. Maybe more so to the former employee several months down the track.

    I think the same thing happens again and again in business. Making the claim or the statement seems to water down the commitment to actually doing anything about it. So how can you use this knowledge in the pursuit of your own team or business goals?


    Well the old saying, action speaks louder than words rings true here. Get stuck into whatever it is that you want to do, enlist some help but do it on the QT. Get your employees to reflect/comment after several weeks and see if they notice anything different. If they don’t, there’s your answer….

    Here’s the video link  for you.

    Derek Sivers – keep your goals to yourself


    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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