Pay Attention!

Attend to What Is or May Be Out There in Front of You

By Oliver Cummings

Letting your fingers thrum on a moving tractor tire tread can have a hypnotic effect.

Dad would let me ride on the tractor with him while he was mowing the pasture. Standing on the running board of the tractor and letting my arm hang over the fender, the lugs on the rear tire would bump my fingers over and over in a repetitive rhythm as the wheel turned.

Occasionally, when I was off in a mental someplace else, Dad would “manage” to hit a fresh cow-pie with that wheel and since I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, I would get a handful of cow manure.

He’d laugh (though I wouldn’t) and stop the tractor so I could get off and clean my hand in the fresh mown grass until we passed the pond again, where he’d stop so I could wash up.

Point of the Story

Don’t get lulled (by that “right now good feeling” of success or things going right) into not watching where you are going.

Sensing your environment, attending to what is or may be out there in front of you is critical to not winding up with an unwanted outcome in your business.

As I wrote this, the thought came to me that it may sound out of step with our current reality.

Who really thinks there are many among us who have a “right now good feeling of things going right?”

We are in the midst of a global pandemic and experiencing the most serious economic downturn in the U.S. since the 1930’s, with thousands of small businesses out of business permanently or limping along on the hope that things will come back soon enough to keep them in business.

Still, I think the message is relevant for at least two key reasons:

  1. There are segments of the economy that are comfortably growing, pandemic be damned – and managers in those organizations could, in addition to thanking their lucky stars, feel that feeling of comfort.
  2. When (not if) the economy comes back critical manager jobs will become more plentiful and the need to fill them quickly more urgent; but here is the “look where you are going” catch:

Much of the manager’s pre-pandemic job qualifications will still be requirements, but significant change is afoot in many, maybe most, businesses. Managers and those who want to be managers must adapt to new realities, from leading virtual working teams, to managing in sometimes significantly different physical spaces and overseeing different procedures, to creating a new culture of trust in a wary workforce.

Are you in an organization going through significant strategy shifts? Get a pragmatic, structured way to help you respond as a middle manager: Click on the link below.

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR UNIT TO MAKE STRATEGY REAL: A Guidebook for Managers Facing Changing Strategies to Position Their Unit to Thrive


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