The Results Of Results

Goal of business development concept, 3D illustration rendering

“Wow, you got an ‘A’ on that test!”

“What a game! You scored an amazing goal!”

“That’s your best performance; everyone stood up and clapped for you!”

Now what?

I come to this subject via a recently – and much appreciated – shared podcast that talked about many rich things, among them the gap, i.e. the missed opportunity, between being strictly results oriented and acknowledging the means and practices that it took  to achieve those results.

This is not to say that I’m not results oriented, and that it’s OK to give out participation medals like Halloween candy and everyone wins.  The ubiquitous 25 kids fielding a T-ball team is still a mystery to me.  (Meh, I’m a #boomer)

It’s rather that this effect, this approach, THE approach most of us take, is that our value is constructed solely on our final score. So…

This one’s about how this approach impacts those of us in performance-based careers that are measured mainly on tangible, objective results.  Many of you are saying right now that all jobs, especially, MY JOB, is based on results. And that approach is never going to change. And it’s true, corporate America is a lot like baseball.  Think about it; professional baseball, in particular, is a job where failure is the predominant outcome.  The elite fail some 70% of the time.  The bulk are somewhere in the 80-85% range.  Holy moly.

Corporate life, and for this particular story, professional corporate sales life, is very similar.  We measure the success of the professional sales person on a monthly, quarterly and ultimately annual basis, rewarded with commissions, salary increases, incentive trips, maybe a promotion and the privilege of returning next year to do it all over again.  And one wonders how monotony settles into a sales team, even a proven successful one.

So, in this context, what do I mean by results vs. means and practices?

Means and practices are about our reaction to something that a person does well, whether as a consistent outcome or more of a breakthrough.  We lean into the results of it.  Think about this story’s opening remarks: all surround what was accomplished.  Not what we learned in getting there; not the journey, and its challenges, failures and small victories.

I know,leaders are concerned about results.  Of course they are!  And of course you are!  It’s what pays the bills, keeps us fueled up for life’s requirements.  The miss here is that it makes everyone only focus on one immediate thing: the win.  It’s limiting, and in many ways unsustainable.  We hop from win to win like Frogger trying to cross the crowded highway, “…just don’t get hit!” while trying to get a hit.  A more sustainable mindset is to embrace the journey.  As endurance athletes say, “If you do the work, the start line is the finish line…” An athlete decides the outcome and it’s  theirs: for some, it’s to win; others to finish in a certain time; others still, to finish and receive a token that says “I DID THIS!”

Another result of only focusing on results is that leaders spend so much time with results that they miss the opportunity to coach.  It’s somewhat their fault and also it’s not.  Our culture of results limits us to truly building and serving real corporate talent.  

I have to ask: Leader, how much time do you spend planning, scanning and reporting on the data your team delivers each and every day, week, month?  Exhausted yet?  So many leaders tell me how they want to be more strategic, more of a servant leader, a developer of talent, a creator of the cool disruption.  Would that be before or after the 30 hours you spend a week just reblending Salesforce to meet the needs of all the other leaders who don’t actually read what the contributors spend even more time completing and ensuring a hygienic and factual report?

I know, snarkiness aside, it’s tough to do this. This is why the coaching field continues to grow at a ridiculously fast rate.  Since my coach likes to talk about velocity, let me share with you how to  gain just a bit of additional velocity out of yourself and your team:

  1. Start with the review.  What if, instead of “Congratulations on your recent sale!,”  you tried some version of “Now that you got the agreement signed, what was the most significant thing you learned from it?”
  2. Next, remind your colleague that practice continues. Ask, “What practices would you like to make part of your game for the next engagement?”
  3. Seek and engage in their goals and dreams.  Yes, some elite players want the big recognition.  They want the club trip, the special award, the big payoff.  Who doesn’t?!?!  Ask, though, and you may learn that others want to start a family, be with their family more, help other families through charitable and/or community activities, and imagine even bigger dreams as a result of those interactions. – Why isn’t it important to offer rewards recognizing these motivators as well?

As a leader, results are necessary and have great value.  The question is, what do these results and their impact have on the team? Unless you define and understand that, there will be fleeting moments of excitement, but…real fulfillment? Not so much.  I challenge you to be just a little bit different today, this week, this month…think about how you can change your “Go-To” recognition of someone’s value and impact. Results have consequences.  What would be different for you and everyone around you if you responded to results differently? Real trophies await those willing to cheer the whole course, and not just waiting at the finish line.

“Hello curious human.  If you’ve made it this far, then curiosity and awareness are two of your superpowers. Ready to go to the next level?  Consider the wild idea of investing in you! New programs are available! Why wait any longer?!?  Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!

join the pod
Subscribe to get SPH in your inbox and be notified about new podcasts, webinars, events and more.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Be big. Be cool. Be hippo.

Ready to get started?

hippo surfacing