Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mental Conditioning Is the Secret Sauce

Whichever companies gets this mental conditioning thing right will be in the proverbial catbird seat.  Did you hear that right?  Yes, that is correct, whichever companies get this mental conditioning thing right will be in the catbird seat.

Why?  There are only so many new business strategies out there.  There are only so many that can work.  There are only so many re-engineering and process improvements that can be made.  There are only some many people that can be laid off.  There are only so many cost-cutting measures that can be done.  There are only so many "work smarter with less" speeches that can be made.   There are only so many fire drills that can be performed.  There are only so many acquisitions and mergers that can be integrated.  There are only so many people you can hire.   

At the end of the day, we have to realize that the only frontier left to be conquered is the human mind and its capacity for innovation, creativity, problem solving and decision making.  Yet, we have only begun to accept the current state of organizations or be open in the expanses of human potential through mental conditioning.

Boards, executives, managers, and employees alike are fighting like cats and dogs to find the silver bullet in management.  They blame each other and look for anything they can find to keep themselves afloat.  Everyone continues to look externally to find the right process--the right formula for increased productivity.

What we fail to look at is the immediate loss in productivity that starts the day you hire each and every employee or the day you put them in a new role.  Like a new car that we drive off the lot, in most organizations the new employee begins to lose his full value the first day he arrives on your doorstep.  If it is like most, your company starts to set up its employees for frustration and failure on day one.  How does that happen?

First of all, if we do not design training to help people to learn from our mistakes and if we do not talk realistically to them immediately about the challenges facing our organization right now, we are training them for failure.  If we don't begin the process of developing our employees before they are deployed, they will not be successful.  We don't put them in a position to be successful, much less talk about the psychology of performance.

Instead, we prepare our employees to incorporate our dysfunctional organizational behavior from the very beginning.  We fail to take into account how our culture and how our method for orientation and training begin to demotivate our new recruit on day one.  Instead of giving him or her all the tools and resources that they need to be successful, we begin to tie their hands by telling them how we do business (even through how we do business is exactly how we got to this place to begin with).  We indoctrinate them into our system of mediocrity and status quo.  We don't teach new people how to learn in our organization or the future.  We train them about the past.

Because most companies are much less than what they could be and have considerable lengths to go before they could be considered functional (particularly in this challenging economy), we begin to teach our new people how to ineffectively attack problems with the tools that have been designed poorly or have only been designed to tackle old problems, not the problems of the future.

To change this, what do businesses need to do?  To begin with, we need to understand that we talk about business and we look at organizations in antiquated ways.  We use phrases like "lean and mean" but fail to understand what that actually involves in the most fundamental of ways.   It sounds impressive to be "lean and mean," but it has no practical application.  We only know that it will be hard and uncomfortable (and usually be of undetermined time frame, unattainable and untethered to any success).  Specifics are hard to come by in this "lean and mean" model. 

Secondly, we plan based on what we would like to have happen without realistic planning or taking into account what realities are really out there.  Because, if we did, we fear that the work involved would be too difficult and we couldn't get anyone to do it.  We fool ourselves and our colleagues into believing that "all you have to do is....." and hope that we will magically achieve our goals.  So, our plans do not include all the things that we know are like to intrude on our plans.

Thirdly and most importantly, we rely on the current state of our employees mental conditioning and  personal psychological make-up.  Our companies rarely give our employees the things that they need to navitigate the turbulence that is our organization and our economy.  We don't teach our employees to solve the problems of our future or our customers' futures.

Lastly, we assume that we have hired the right person for now.  So, we do not need to ensure that they have what it takes to be emotionally resilient and to innoculate them from the toxic and stressful internal and external environments that they will encounter (even if we know the realities of those environments) in the future.  Rather, we wonder how and why our latest hire has floundered so quickly.  We wonder how we could be so disappointed so soon.

So, what about this mental conditioning stuff? 

By and large, mental conditioning has only successfully caught hold in two disciplines, the elite so-called Black OPS teams of the military; and world-class athletes and teams.  Even the best in class companies have been found to incorporate only small aspects of what we know about mental conditioning.  Most organizations whether they aspire to greatness and growth or not, have done nothing to solve the riddle of the human mind.  Most organizations simply ebb and flow without regard to the mental aspects of success and achievement.

Imagine what kind of productivity gains and efficiencies (not to mention personal and team satsifaction) could be affected by significant uses of mental conditioning in the work place.  Our ability to improve focus, foster clarity of thinking, reduce frustration and time wasters is critical to success.  Through improvements in how we prepare and plan emotionally and mentally for the stress and pressure of important events and challenges, our companies could be radically changed by quickly altering in how we orient and train our employees with effective mental conditioning techniques.

These mental conditioning techniques focus on the future and focus on how we learn.

Business plans and process improvements, along with new product rollouts could be greatly benefitted by equal time committed to mental conditioning and engaged in emotional preparation activities associated with mental conditioning techniques and stress innoculation programs.      



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