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Battling Hazardous Attitudes Part 1 – Resignation

Complacency and accepting poor workflows can happen to any business. Here is how to watch for it in yours.

When I started taking flying lessons in 2017, my instructor led me through a gauntlet of theoretical and practical exercises designed to get me ready for the FAA written and practical exams. One of these units is oriented around something called hazardous attitudes. There are five of these mindsets defined in the private pilot curriculum; anti-authority, impulsivity, invulnerability, macho, and resignation. I’m going to spend the next few blogs diving into each one. Today, let’s begin with resignation.

Battling Hazardous Attitudes Part 1 – Resignation

Remember your first new car? Shiny. Perfect. That new car smell couldn’t be beat. You drove it off the lot and swore nothing would ever happen to this car. No dings, no scrapes, no rocks spider webbing the windshield. All went well for a few days until a grocery cart banged into the bumper. It was a little scratch that could be easily buffed out. “No harm,” you thought. “I’ll catch it the next time I’m at the carwash.” A few more months go by with similar mini run-ins with foreign objects, curbs, and maybe your kids spilled some ice cream in the back (so much for that “no eating EVER” rule…). All these little speed bumps are easily compartmentalized, and you catalog and justify each one as “not that bad.” One day your wife gets in the car and says, “What happened to your nice car?” It all hits home right away. You didn’t attack each issue as it occurred and became nose blind to the decay happening around you. Your wife saw the car as it actually was; neglected and the result of your resignation.

Resignation exists everywhere. Businesses, families, clubs… you name it. At my custom installation business, Livewire, our latest bout of resignation started slowly. I heard a project manager lamenting non-billable hours on a project and a salesperson shrugging off a poorly designed project written by our system designer. This passive language irked me. I couldn’t believe we’d devolved from when I’d started the company. At the beginning, there was no such thing as a non-billable hour. If I didn’t bill, I didn’t eat. Once a company starts hiring employees, that all changes. Suddenly the ways the company and your employees make money begin to diverge. If your customer doesn’t pay, your employees are still owed a paycheck. That’s the bargain. I’m fine with that, but it does mean companies need to find creative ways to incentivize their employees to protect the bottom line.

Also by Henry Clifford: Stabbing Each Other Offscreen

Thankfully Livewire has done a great job of implementing great programs that encourage our employees to eliminate waste while rewarding them for their efforts. Resignation is a deadlier enemy because it lives between the lines. To truly banish resignation once and for all, we need to instill in our employees the idea that, in order to be successful, they are in charge of their own destinies and need to call out issues proactively. Here are some key examples where resignation can thrive:

  1. Sales and Design Engineer: If a salesperson relies completely on a system designer to build out a scope of work without buddy-checking it, issues can happen in the field when the scope might be missing critical components. Conversely, an “order taker” design engineer can easily be bullied by a salesperson into designing a system that won’t function properly.
  2. Sales and Project Management: If a salesperson throws the scope of work over the wall and fails to engage in a good handoff with the project manager, unforeseen issues can easily happen on the job. A passive project manager who fails to firmly hold fast to a checklist of required documents before a handoff can find themselves underwater later and perpetuate a cycle that rewards bad behavior from salespeople.
  3. Project Management and Installation: If installers don’t feel there are enough hours to do the work and fail to speak up, the company is robbed of the opportunity to process a proper change order and finds itself chasing the customer down for approvals after the work is completed (not ideal at all). Great two-way communication between project managers and installers is key to making sure all hours, parts, and merchandise are accounted for and billed back to the client.

What’s the antidote to the preceding examples of resignation? It’s all about culture. Banishing resignation isn’t a “one and one.” It’s a longer-term mission because it requires change management. Usually, it’s all about reverting to an earlier state where the company was smaller and scrappier. Sometimes taking a step back isn’t a bad thing. The worst thing would be to deny resignation exists in your company (it does). We are going to spend considerable time and resources training our employees and praising instances of leaning into the idea of eliminating resignation.

What are you doing to kick resignation to the curb in your company?

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.