“You can do anything, but not everything.”
With the seemingly never-ending to-do list, that little statement is very true in the entrepreneurial world.
You’re a smart, capable, able and willing business owner who can achieve anything you put your mind to. Where people often get discouraged is when they try to do TOO much, and they end up not doing a great job at any of it.
When you are able to focus on one single thing and put your whole self into it, you can accomplish incredible things. It’s a proven fact.
When you spread yourself too thin and do EVERYTHING instead of one thing really well, you end up delivering OK content and getting OK results. You do NOT want “OK” anything in your business, you want great, exceptional, fantastic.
When you try to do too many things, it can feel like you’re not moving forward, and when you’re not moving forward then it’s a sure-fire way to get discouraged and down on yourself.
Last week’s column addressed “What Older Employees Can Learn From Young Executives.” Granted, all five characteristics represent generalizations and aren’t universally applicable. But as generalizations, they guide thinking toward positive expectations.
The same can be said about what younger managers can learn from older employees. Stereotypical thinking, for sure. Nevertheless, the following traits are common in older employees—and well worth considering.
What Young Managers Learn From Older Employees: 4 Attitudes
Traditionalists and Boomers were taught to let others do the bragging. When they’ve earned the gold watch after 40 years or built their entrepreneurial venture, they take a bow modestly. When faced with competition or conflict, they embrace Frank Sinatra’s observation, “The best revenge is massive success.”
The evidence of humility? Grandparents don’t mind having their grandkids teach them all about their smart phone, program their TV’s remote control, or rewire their sound system. The 60-something CEO will ask the savvy teen next door to build him a website for his hobby and teach him how to log in to update it. The seasoned executive may select an oncologist who has just finished her residency to ensure she’s getting someone familiar with the very latest research and techniques for treatment.
Older employees have lived long enough to know what they don’t know—and be humbled by that knowledge.
It’s tough to hold on to good employees, but it shouldn’t be. Most of the mistakes that companies make are easily avoided. When you do make mistakes, your best employees are the first to go, because they have the most options.
If you can’t keep your best employees engaged, you can’t keep your best employees. While this should be common sense, it isn’t common enough. A survey by CEB found that one-third of star employees feel disengaged from their employer and are already looking for a new job.
When you lose good employees, they don’t disengage all at once. Instead, their interest in their jobs slowly dissipates. Michael Kibler, who has spent much of his career studying this phenomenon, refers to it as brownout. Like dying stars, star employees slowly lose their fire for their jobs.
“Brownout is different from burnout because workers afflicted by it are not in obvious crisis,” Kibler said. “They seem to be performing fine: putting in massive hours, grinding out work while contributing to teams, and saying all the right things in meetings. However, they are operating in a silent state of continual overwhelm, and the predictable consequence is disengagement.”
In order to prevent brownout and to retain top talent, companies and managers must understand what they’re doing that contributes to this slow fade. The following practices are the worst offenders, and they must be abolished if you’re going to hang on to good employees.