When times get strange I preserve my sanity by re-grounding myself with childhood memories of innocent times and moral basics. And times are strange.
Very few Americans trust either candidate for President. Britain has voted to leave the European Union. Radical Islam has established a caliphate and is managing to recruit and inspire young men it has never met to wreak havoc on the very freedoms our country was founded upon. Temperatures are setting records and glaciers are melting faster than even NASA expected. In the business biosphere, the world doesn’t look much better. With all the incredible advances in technology global growth is still tepid. The economic future is still sluggish and murky enough that Janet Yellin decided she needs to keep her foot on the pedal and leave our cheap money policies intact. Our new biggest threat appears to be geopolitical risk according to experts like former Morgan Stanley CEO, John Mack.
And so, I harken back to Romper Room, one of the TV shows I watched as sure as I ate breakfast each day.
Romper Room and the Workplace? Yes.
Romper Room was a show of innocence that began in 1958, the year before I was born. Romper Room preceded Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. One of the chief characters of Romper Room was Mr. Doo Bee. Mr. Doo Bee was in contrast to Mr. Don’t Bee. Mr. Doo Bee shared toys. Mr. Don’t Bee was “toy selfish.” Reflecting on all that is going on makes me think we need to write in Mr. Doo Bee for President. Mr. Doo Bee could have some simple modern lessons about the need to respect everyone’s choices and lifestyles. Instead, according to polls, we are stuck with, “Mr. It’s all about Me Bee” and “Ms. Can’t Trust Me Bee.”
Most everything I have said above can be gleaned from the Sunday Morning shows and the reporters who comment on the news. All I did was re-report what I heard. I didn’t do anything, but watching the news gave me a couple thoughts: First, maybe some of the political backlash we are experiencing comes from a latent desire to see things done. After all, we humans are born to be doers. We are born to act. And second, since I study the workplace, this really got me thinking about workplace culture, our behaviors in the workplace and an important key to the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t, and highly functional versus highly challenged teams. I rediscovered something we all need to work on to get ahead and improve our team functionality. We need more Doers, and we need to cultivate and encourage Doers.
Those of you who read my writings and books (thank you by the way) know I have been really obsessed with listening as a skill. My book Listening as a Martial Art has done amazingly well and has taken on a life of its own. Listening provides lessons. There is a new skill I am developing and I want you to work on it. I want you to listen to yourself. Do you think you do? I thought I did.
But what I have learned is that if you don’t listen well to others, you probably don’t listen well to yourself.
So, here is a new skill. Pretend when you talk you are someone else. Practice listening to yourself. As you get better at listening to yourself, start rehearsing what you will say before you say it.
The Difference Between a Reporter and a Doer
In focusing on listening to myself, I learned and relearned the difference between a Doer and a Reporter when it comes to work place participants. Here is the key difference:
- A Reporter, in interacting with their boss or with their peers or even their subordinates in the organization, sounds like the first two paragraphs of my essay. Reporters tell you what is happening.
- “Client A is unhappy.”
- “We only sold $X of goods last month.”
- “Customer B has no interest in our product.”
- “David is not doing his fair share of the work.”
- “Project A is behind schedule.”
My new focus on listening has unearthed that most things I hear in the work place are reports.
Email and the new data revolution has seemed to multiply the Reporter Bees in the world. We seem to have more people reporting and analyzing than doing.
Our business economies are being overrun by Money Ball mentalities. Clearly the ability to master data and understand interconnections is important and revolutionary. But if everyone is measuring, who is doing?
So what does a Doer Bee do?
- A Doer Bee doesn’t just bring you a problem, they bring you a solution or a suggested solution.
- The best actually solve the problem or attempt to before they come to you.
- A Doer Bee doesn’t come to you and say “Customer A is unhappy.” A Doer Bee calls customer A, sets up a meeting, assesses what needs to be done to regain the confidence of Customer A and only comes to you if that didn’t work.
- I love Doer Bees. Doer Bees get promoted, start companies and generally rule the world.
So, you should be a Doer Bee.
Wait. Let’s Discuss Amplifiers
There is only one style worse than a Reporter and that is an Amplifier. An Amplifier isn’t just a Reporter, they repeat what Reporters say, only louder. Sometimes they are simply amplifying themselves. Tell me you don’t know fellow teammates who send you an email about X, and then call you or stop by to tell you about X and say, “I sent you an email about X.” Remember the movie Aliens? Amplifiers are the ones who, after hearing about the crisis situation and threats, scream at the top of their lungs, “We are all going to die.”
Please note, those are the ones who die. Amplifiers always die first.
The next time you are about to speak to your boss, coworkers or subordinates do yourself a favor: rehearse it in your head. Is it a whine? Are you going to complain? Are you going to be a Reporter? Worse yet, are you simply amplifying things you have already heard? Perhaps email and texting have turned us all into Reporters and Amplifiers.
Today’s Do Bee lesson? Be a Doer Bee, Don’t Bee a Reporter or Amplifier Bee. So much more will get done and you will get ahead.
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