Scroll To Top

Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #70

Leading with ‘lemmas' (a Focus on Between a Rock and a Hard Place Decision-Making) ...

If you're reading this and not familiar with the Arizona landmark shown in this image, this awesome rock is Tom's Thumb, an appropriately named—and very popular—hiking destination in the Sonoran Desert in Southwestern United States. Over the weekend my wife and I hiked this incredible protrusion to its highest point (3,925 feet) to take advantage of its panoramic views.

[In case you're wondering, please note that the recommendations during the current shelter-in-place decree are "physical distancing" ... not "no existing" ...]

Our purpose for this hike—in addition to the healthy exercise and fresh air—was to do a bit of reflection on what we've been through during this last four weeks. While we explored many facets of the current situation during this reflective time (including family, friends and country), one aspect that we discussed (for a rather lengthy period of time) is how the managers and leaders inside our client organizations are coping.

We're painfully aware, from a number of personal-touch conversations, that most managers—regardless of industry—are facing daily 'between a rock and a hard place' decisions as it pertains to their employees. These decisions represent the uncomfortable choice between two 'lemmas' ... the predicament of being faced with two equally unwelcome (and frequently ambiguous) dilemmas while knowing there is no option—a decision needs to be made. As one senior leader recently confided:

"For many decisions today there is no playbook; there are no right or wrongs. There are only two (or more) less-than-desirable alternatives that truly are the proverbial lesser of two (or more) evils."

While the use of Tom's Thumb as a metaphor for the "rock" can't be missed, what may not be so obvious is the clarity of vision you'll obtain from the top of the metaphorical "rock." It's with this vantage point in mind that I bring you the HVAs for this week.

[Note: I also have a special quote for you in today's Quote of the Week that I'd like you to think about ... internalize ... and, perhaps, pass along to someone you know who could benefit from this Sage advice.]

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

While we're in Business as Unusual mode—when significant ambiguity is the order of the day—we must develop strategies to deal with the 'between a rock and a hard place' decisions that are expected from us. Here are a few HVAs that may help in this pursuit:

  • Playing Without a Rule-Book: During normal (routine) crises, predicaments, challenges and/or emergencies, experience rules—the more experience you have in leading and managing in turbulent times, the better the decisions you'll make. Your experiences provide you with a predefined response plan. However, in unprecedented times when everything about this situation is new—not only for you and your organization ... but for the entire world—we can't rely on experience because none of us have it! There is no rule-book or predefined response plan. In the absence of experience, your values, including integrity, empathy, and humility, become the most important qualities in your decision-making. These values inform your moral decision-making process and guide you toward the best decision. When decisions are made in alignment with your values, you're more likely to succeed in the face of adversity ... even if you don't get everything right from the start.
  • Don't Quarantine Your Strategy/Goals: During the first few weeks of this crisis we had to—understandably—press the pause button on business as usual to allow us to figure out how to keep our people safe. While there's nothing normal about today's business environment, it's time we acknowledge the healthy (almost therapeutic) value of getting back to work (at least to the best of our ability). And I'm not just referring to the health of your organization; paradoxically, it's routine that provides the most psychological relief for your employees during these stressful times. Use this time to engage your employees in opportunity thinking. Instead of looking at this situation as a crisis, accelerate your efforts to analyze and act on problems. Seek their ideas for weathering the storm (on both the cost and revenue sides of the business). Concentrate on the small wins; in baseball it's the singles and doubles that win most games.
  • Use the Power of PA3R: Making decisions amid ambiguity and uncertainty is challenging and frequently leads to indecisiveness. Waiting for a full set of facts to emerge before determining which direction to take is a common—and costly—mistake that managers/leaders often make during times of crisis. When information is changing from hour-to-hour and from day-to-day, the best approach is to adopt the PA3R method. PAUSE; ASSESS the situation from multiple vantage points; ANTICIPATE what may happen next using deductive reasoning; ACT; REPEAT as frequently as necessary to accommodate the changing landscape.

[Disclaimer: While Tom's Thumb is at 3,925 feet, I must confess—in the spirit of full disclosure—that the trailhead starts at 2,813 feet so the climb is really only 1,112 feet (I hope this news doesn't mean a loss of credibility ...].

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"Promise me you’ll always remember:

You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

— Winnie-the-Pooh —