What’s More Important?


“Having it all” has become a kind of blind obsession that has seeped into the fabric of today’s business practices in multiple ways.

A daily danger is the expectation adopted by many employees that they should immediately prioritize every request, implication or assignment that comes their way.  As a manager, you know we should make judgement calls or ask for guidance on which items are more important, but thousands of well-meaning employees are under the blind assumption that you, their leader, want to ‘have it all.’  The result is overwhelmed, disengaged employees wasting time because they can’t even envision the path to their own success. You probably did not set that expectation,

…but you can change it:

  • Set clear expectations about what prioritized actions will drive the team’s targeted results.
  • Measure and reward data that shows the urgent and important actions are prioritized.
  • Confirm that your team understands how they should be using their resources.
  • Stay alert to who is pressuring your staff with the unimportant, and equip your people to negotiate their support effectively.

This kumbaya concept of “having it all” can have a more debilitating impact to team success.  Today the concept of Diversity seems securely settled on company pillars [of salt].  But too often, if anyone dares to behave differently because their personal choice differs from the majority, they must be prepared to defend their position to everyone from the breakroom pundits to an HR investigator.  So apparently, they certainly do not deserve to “have it all.”
As a leader, you cautiously examine those differences to ensure they don’t negatively impact the owner’s ability to perform.  But once that is established, you had better be supporting their desire to prioritize what they feel is important.

  • Equip the employee with ideas that will unify others around business results.
  • Sincerely confirm the two of you share the same interpretation of successful performance.
  • Coach on verbiage and behaviors that confirm their priority won’t threaten other’s priorities.
  • Engage company resources to ensure understandings of both employee and business needs.

If you don’t become their advocate, you risk:

  • Engagement of that employee plummets.
  • Trust in you falters as anyone who shares their priority or value questions your intent.
  • Productivity of those with opposite priorities drops as they begin to plan culture-skirmishes.

Share the quiz:

  1. The best employees can get it all done! FALSE: The best employees find out what’s most urgent and important to the business, and they get THAT done.
  2. Everyone should expect their team members to make similar personal choices if they want to work together successfully. FALSE: Humans will continue to struggle with personal differences, but the answer is not uniformity. Unfortunately, solutions like common ground, unity, and respect of diversities can only be led; they can never be legislated.

If you need a safe conversation about troublesome challenges like these, we invite you to call.


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