Construction Cost & Project Management

You gotta let go to grow

February 26, 2019

(Post by Andrew Thorp from an idea from Martyn Tickle)

One of the odd things about learning new skills is that you may have to ‘unlearn’ first. Things get in the way of the new stuff coming in; perhaps pre-conceived ideas that things must be done a particular way:

• I need slides to do a presentation
• The CEO only wants the facts, not a story
• It’s quicker to do it myself rather than delegate and correct the mistakes

I was reminded of this the other day when a Poole Dick colleague told me about his young daughter Isla and her soft toy bunny. BeeBee (BB) and the little girl have been pretty much inseparable from Day One. To have a reliable source of comfort seems like a good thing, until you see the consequences when BB goes missing and little Isla’s world comes crashing down!

Over time her father has gradually encouraged more independence from Isla’s beloved bunny, but it’s been a painful transition. It’s always easier to cling on to the crutch, but it hinders our growth.

It’s a familiar story; we’ve all had to cast off our trainer wheels, leave the shallow end of the pool or scale the climbing wall.

Consider the two parties here – the person who needs to develop and the one who encourages it. In the workplace, the equivalent is the employee and their boss. As a leader your job is to get the best from your people and that means encouraging them to grow. You have to give them opportunities to try new things, and expect a degree of failure.

But if you create a culture where people are vilified for getting things wrong, don’t expect a queue of employees keen to chair their first meeting, attend their first networking event or lead a pitch to a potential client.

Growth takes effort on both sides. The leader creates a fertile environment where personal development is valued and recognised; the employees feel motivated to explore their own potential and make the boss proud.

Look around you and consider how many BB’s there are in your business. Are you or your employees clinging on to wordy PowerPoint slides, old working practices, outdated attitudes or self-limiting beliefs? If so, you’re effectively running your business with the handbrake on.

Growing means retaining the best of our childlike instincts – the desire to try new things, the hunger to learn – whilst at the same time being willing to bin the bunny!