Everything you know about winning is wrong. The moment of triumph, the congratulations, and the final score — those are the basic components of winning, right? Wrong! If that shocks you, you are not alone. Until I learned the true secret to winning, I thought I knew all about the subject. I was totally wrong. I had a lot to learn. Now I’ve discovered the real sources of success, in both business and sports.
Have you ever repaired your picky Aunt Patty’s SUV or tried to fix something on her brand-new smartphone? If you have, you know that no matter how hard you try to make everything perfect, she’s going to find fault with something. With your very particular Aunt Patty, no job is ever done on time.
I’ve never liked working for people I’m close to — relatives, neighbors, or friends. No matter how good the work is, they always seem to want something more, often something that’s indefinable. It’s one of those situations where no one wins. So why is it that the jobs we fuss over the most give us the biggest headaches? Why can’t we win when it counts?
Maybe we care too much.
Outcome Thoughts vs. Process Thoughts
I know a little about tennis and a lot about business. Sometimes what works in one works in the other. One day my tennis coach told me the chief obstacle to improving my game was the fact that I care too much.
“Care too much?” I asked. “Are you serious?”
“Yes,” he said, “I am. You care too much about winning. When you start to play, you get so emotional that you can’t look at what you’re doing objectively.”
It turned out I was having “outcome thoughts.” As I competed against my opponent on the other side of the net, my mind was on my hoped-for victory. I saw my last shot hitting just out of my opponent’s reach, and imagined him congratulating me at the net with a handshake. My thoughts weren’t focused on what it would take to get there.
Scoreboards aren’t just for fans. They help players too, especially after complicated actions. Once the confusion is over, the scoreboard tells them where things stand. However, if we allow our minds to get too wrapped up in the scoreboard data, we lose sight of the game right in front of us. If we always focus on the results posted on the scoreboard, we’re ignoring what we need to do to win.
At Nick Saban’s University of Alabama football program, throughout the season, the coaching staff and players don’t talk about the National Championship, but they’ve won it six times. How? Each Crimson Tide player and coach asks: What do I need to accomplish right now to dominate the competition? They know that you don’t earn the championship on the day of the championship game. You win it through a process of preparation that takes years.
When business owners fail to prepare and execute, they, too, invite all those hectic Fridays, when everything goes wrong. Why? Because they didn’t properly prepare on Monday and Tuesday. If they had, those Fridays would be easy.
Many automotive repair businesses hold themselves accountable using a system of Key Performance Indicators. These include Profitability, CSI, Cycle Time, Alternative Parts Usage, and many others. A good shop manager understands these metrics. A great manager always executes the tasks required to consistently reach the metrics. This isn’t something you do once in a while. Winning in business comes from the same basic principles as those found in tennis or football: constant attention to disciplined preparation and following the right process.
Companies that rely on results-based compensation systems need to examine these carefully. Results-based compensation is popular because it seems fair: workers get paid on the basis of the results they produce. However some companies don’t, won’t, or can’t measure results accurately, and sometimes they measure the wrong things, or fail to measure the right ones. This can lead results-based systems that create motivational “silos” that can damage your business globally.
If your restaurant’s “scoreboard” focuses primarily on server performance in terms of bringing the order to each table in the shortest amount of time possible, your servers might fail to engage customers and impress them enough to come back — even though the food will always be on time, they might not serve it with a smile or they might rush through all their interactions.
What might work better would be a program that rewards consistent quality in employees’ performance as they follow processes designed to ensure that work is done to a high standard. If their work follows a good process, and measures up to the best standards, results will usually take care of themselves.
In Part 2 of The Process of Winning, we're going to explore 3 key elements of winning and help you start mapping out your own winning process!
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