Discuss the Roadblocks
It was just a dusting of snow but its timing was poor as we were all trying to get places on an early Monday morning. The snow season had just started and drivers were learning how to keep their vehicles between the lines. I left early but not early enough for my comfort. That sense of urgency- but not yet panic- kept me leaning forward in my seat. We were moving along nicely until I saw the brake lights in front of me. Cringe. For the next five miles I was stuck behind a crawling roadblock. Panic set in. I got to my turn and the “turtle car” got through the intersection. I did not. I sat fuming at the red light. The next light was red too, and the next and the next. Roadblock by roadblock I inched toward my destination. My anger came out in a scream of frustration. There was nothing I could safely do about it so I turned on holiday music and finished the drive singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”…maybe. My momentum was lost to the point that I didn’t even care anymore if I was late. Amazingly, I got to my meeting right on time and had to do an attitude check before walking in the door.
On the way home, I realized that my morning drive paralleled an experience I had early in my career. Roadblocks, obstacles, and stop lights were all frustrating parts of a promise-filled job I held. I remembered my anger- similar to that morning- on many car rides home from work. The roadblocks, obstacles and stop lights included the equipment, resources, and systems I had (and didn’t have) to do my job. For example, we weren’t allowed to use the internet at work. It was difficult to develop a program or training without this resource. Our computers reminded me of that “turtle car” as they were very slow. There was wasted time in waiting for programs to load and save. (I’m talking 25 minutes to open our email program!) There was a limited budget and we were not allowed to know what that number was. The stop lights also included a shift in our positions from analyzing, designing, development, implementing, and evaluation to data entry of training manuals. I got to the point where I was tired of fighting through the barriers and roadblocks. I didn’t care as much about innovation and improvement in my work and I would do only what was required to get my job done. I had lost my momentum, energy and desire to keep improving the systems. I was trapped on a snowy road where I felt I had to keep following that route until one day I realized the obstacles outweighed the benefits of my journey. Let’s help clear the road and make it safer for your employees in their journey.
You can send your own staff out the door and put them behind the wheel in a snowstorm with no destination or directions but why would you. Articulating and ensuring everyone on your team understands your vision, mission and expectations is the first step. Removing the obstacles so your team can actually attain and exceed your expectations is a must. These roadblocks may be different for everyone on your team or there may be some common frustrations. As with any journey, obstacles will change from road to road or project to project so keep alert.
You might not be able to remove all the obstacles and roadblocks; however, you can help explain why they are there. Share with your team that barriers are frustrating because they slow us down but they also help protect people too. Make it a practice to sit with your team and talk about any roadblocks, obstacles, or stop signs on a regular basis. This will help them stay motivated in less than ideal conditions. They will not only get to the meeting on time but have a more positive attitude in doing so.