Hammer, Meet Nail

On February 9, 2016, in Dr. Todd Dewett, HR Trends, HRExaminer, New Architecture of Work, by Dr. Todd Dewett

2016 Photo of Dr. Todd Dewett on HRExaminer.com

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

It’s one of the most common workplace mistakes:  applying the wrong solution to a situation simply because you went with your “go to” move.  Hammer, meet nail.  This conundrum is typically driven by haste and a lack of appreciation for situational variance.

Unfortunately, one size does not fit all.   Every problem involves different people, different work, and a different context.

Sadly, we’ve all met the hammer guy.  They come in many shapes and sizes.  I once worked with the “Hey, let’s white board this thing” guy.  He truly believed that any conversation could be made better if he could diagram it while you talked to him.  Of course, we’ve all known the “let’s call a meeting” person.  No decision, even the smallest, can be accomplished effectively without the team’s input!  I’ve also met the “360” guy who wanted to start all performance interventions of any kind with a cumbersome 360 degree evaluation.

This is merely a friendly reminder.  Don’t follow in the footsteps of these “ready, fire, aim” decision makers.  They have the best of intentions, but often inadvertently make things worse.  Instead, when time allows, you’re going to be more intentional:  listen, think, inquire – then act.

This applies to nearly all decisions.  I don’t care if you have a go-to approach or answer.  I don’t care what you just read about or learned in your MBA class.  I don’t care what you think is fast or easy.

I only care about what works, and that changes nearly every time.  First listen in an attempt to get to the root of the issue.  Then actively think to ensure you properly comprehend the situation.  Next, inquire to be absolutely sure.  Then make your initial call and act.  This is not a full proof process, yet it is infinitely more effective than ready, fire, aim.  If you remember to use it.

Start by releasing your tight grip on the hammer.  Put down the dry erase marker and step away from the white board.  Now, listen – you might be surprised by what you hear.

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