In the Can Do Basics Blog 1, I talked about the foundation of the Can Do Workplace Model – Mission & Gratitude. Blog 2 is all about practice.
Remember the old question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Answer: Practice!
Here’s the new question: How do you build, nurture and sustain a Can Do Workplace? With four key practices:
- Full Alignment
- Making Quality Decisions
- Using Change to Achieve Growth
- Crafting & Simmering the BEST Secret Sauce
Practices implies a forward movement based on repetition. And that is why I called them practices and not elements or components. Yo-Yo Ma practices every day. So do Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. As do Katie Ladecky and Michael Phelps. They have grown to superstar status and achieved excellence in their fields because they have committed to practicing. Why should it be different for a workplace? Especially in a nonprofit, with its mission to make the world a better place?
The first practice is Full Alignment, which means that all areas of the organization are well-connected and communicating.
Well-connected is to ensure that everyone is headed in the same direction. This happens best when the people who are accountable for outcomes are aware of their expectations and are able, equipped and supported to deliver on them. And then, they do deliver on them.
Communicating is to ensure that the messages – inside, outside and across the organization – are consistent, strategic, timely and true. It also means that everyone in all departments and at all levels of an organization can give similar answers to the questions: “what we are doing? …and why?”
Strong alignment fosters mission and promotes gratitude. Lack of alignment is often discovered when things start going wrong! HINT: That is not the best time to make corrections!! So, it’s good to know: how well is your organization aligned? How many silos are there? What are the biggest barriers to communication? How is accountability understood? How different are the “missions” as stated in each of your organization’s departments or areas?
The second practice is Making Quality Decisions. Not just at the Board meeting or by the department heads, but all the way through the organization. The best quality decisions are the ones made according to the pyramid model: only the most critical policy decisions are made at the top, and the rest are made as close to the customer or client or product as possible. The trick to having that succeed as a model is to share information and provide support and training for people to make great decisions at every level of the organization – every day.
Making quality decisions also requires being able to ask the right questions and listen carefully to the answers. At the time I wrote my first book, The Can Do Chronicles, I defined what I call the Three Can Do Questions, which I find very valuable in all areas of my decision making:
CDQ 1) What can I do? Keeps the focus on possibilities first, and barriers second.
CDQ 2) WHAT ELSE can I do? Keeps new options and fresh ideas perking all the time!
CDQ 3) Just because I can do it, should I? Again, keeps options open until I know for sure: Is it the right thing to do? Is it the right time? What else do I need to learn or who else needs to be involved before I make and act on this decision?
The third practice is Using Change to Achieve Growth. This cartoon says it all:
The message is clear – we all want it as long as we don’t have to do it!
Can Do Workplaces have what Carol Dweck calls Growth Mindsets. We can’t grow if we don’t want to change – ask the butterfly or the frog. The key is to link change with growth. More people understand and accept the value and benefits of growth than they do of change. As leaders of Can Do Workplaces, it is on us to understand, predict and promote change & growth – all of the time – one step at a time.
The fourth practice is Crafting & Simmering the BEST Secret Sauce. Aaahhhhh… the secret sauce – with its uniquely combined ingredients, its spices and aroma – is the signature quality of an organization. The best secret sauce is what keeps people – employees, clients, volunteers, funders and donors – coming back, wanting more and willing to work hard to get there. Many nonprofit leaders take great pains to develop a stellar strategic plan, but don’t include the recipe for the secret sauce – that is, what will make the organization unique and the people in it want to excel. Not just when the times are good!
Want to know a SECRET? It’s the secret sauce that keeps employees, funders and others pitching in and giving support when times are tough.
The Can Do Workplace has much more information about and applications of these Four Practices, along with practical suggestions to infuse the practices into all areas of an organization. Plus, there is an entire resource section with information, including Carol Dweck’s Mindset: the Psychology of Success along with many other helpful publications and links to help create and support a Can Do Workplace. Check it out!
Come back next time for the Can Do Basics Blog 3: The Power Of AND In The Ampersand.
Imagine What You Can Do!