Feeding the Right Wolf
This Cherokee story resonated with me (see below). Like many business people, I get caught up in managing details, instead of focusing on strategy and growth. Measuring myself against the Good Wolf concept has become a way of thinking for me.
Feeding the good wolf - focusing on the right stuff!
In a previous article on this topic, I commented that the message is simple, the wolf you feed is the one that grows.
The good wolf attributes in a business are where we ideally should spend our time, that good old 80 – 20 rule focusing on our engaged employees, improving client experience and quality of product, to name a few.
Creating a Good Wolf Environment
While we have many different tools – appraisals, customer and employee surveys – to try and understand the temperature and levels of entropy in our businesses – the truth is that it is really difficult to explain to people that they are not seen as feeding the good wolf. Often the people who offer the most negative input see themselves as risk averse and offering good advice and not realising that the way they present the issues, and who they share them with, contributes to a toxic environment.
So how do you create a largely good wolf environment? Well, we are still working on it. The simplest way is to open up different lines of communication and facilitate the conversations.
It is not always necessary to address the negative people directly, but allowing positive conversation an airing exposes a broader group to what is working in the organisation. There are times, though, when a one on one conversation that shares how influential the person is, and how his/her opinions and views are listened to and interpreted, can go a long way towards changing behaviour.
Unfortunately, it is easy to be cynical, in fact, much easier than to be perceived as naïve! And cynics are often quite funny and humour appears to take the sting out of negativity….
While bad wolves may be contributing to productivity eg resolving issues for both clients and staff, they often provide a negative experience as part of the resolution process. “But I solved the problem” says the bad wolf without taking into account that a positive encounter creates happier clients and a powerful corporate culture that drives a business forward.
I do know that managers typically spend a disproportionate percentage of their time dealing with problems, whether staff, clients or just general day to day challenges. We spend time looking for a R100 discrepancy while a R100 000 opportunity slips by.
Feeding the Good Wolf
Sadly, bad wolves and their issues love the foreground..
While we are focusing on keeping the bad wolf at bay, the contribution of the good wolves is being diluted and their frustration can cause changes of attitude that slowly erode a positive culture.
It is not enough to say “my door is always open” and address the good wolf issues in an ad hoc way. Time needs to be set aside. One-on-ones make people feel valued and acknowledged for good reason and need to be designed into the fabric of the business.
Rolling out the concept
Like many companies, we have tried many different ideas to ensure that we spend our time where it counts most. The wolves bring that into a sharper focus.
We have introduced the wolves into our business. We ask the question at the beginning of meetings and at various points of the day.
If the answer to “Who am I feeding?” is “The Bad Wolf” more than it is the good one, the leadership team needs to strategise with that person or team to find new ways to do things.
It is not easy, and consistency is always a challenge, but every time we use the technique, we move another step in the right direction.
Links, References and Notes
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: (Sources – See below)
A fight is going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you – and every other person, too.
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather “Which wolf will win?”
The old man replied simply “ The one you feed”.
When I came across this story in a thriller by Michael Robotham, my reaction was immediate. This is a great hook for creating positive thinking and, importantly to our business, a new way to approach an age old concern.
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Michael Robotham – Close your eyes
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