TZL 1399 (web)



There are a lot of heroes in our companies, but some are less noticeable. Their successes are quieter and less dramatic, but no less valuable. Are you rewarding the wrong heroes?

W e wear our long hours as a badge of honor in our industry, swapping tales of how we saved the day and what we endured to rescue a project from the jaws of failure. Throughout my career, I’ve shared war stories and heard my mentors’, peers’, and employees’ stories of how they solved critical issues on their wedding days or anniversaries, and even how they worked through the births of their children or grandchildren. Lost weekends, late nights, cancelled vacations, skipped birthday parties, and missed recitals or sporting events are portrayed as positives – hero stories as proof of selfless sacrifice. And then, when the deadline is met or the obstacle is overcome, those sacrifices are verbally appreciated, publicly celebrated, or even rewarded through promotions.

Keyan Zandy

While I am always grateful for the efforts made to “save the day,” what I can’t get away from is the thought that this kind of reward-based perspective only reinforces the kinds of unhealthy, burnout- inducing behaviors we should want to help our people avoid. Worse, it normalizes the dysfunction or inadequacies that created the crisis, as though we should accept them as an inevitable part of our business. While it’s impossible to prevent everything that could possibly go awry – or that might require someone to go above and beyond to make right – when these things happen, we really should ask this question: What went wrong?

Or, asked differently: How could this have been prevented? Because looking for the root cause of problems in the post-mortem is great, but preemptively addressing them is much better. So, one thing I am trying to get better at is making sure we’re appreciating the other heroes in our company – the less visible ones, who are fighting fires in a very different way. Here are a few ideas around how we can do that: ❚ ❚ Reward those who excel with planning their projects well. Look for ways to identify and

See KEYAN ZANDY, page 4


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