Great But Realistic Expectations

“You know your parents work hard to pay for your lessons. If you choose not to practice, you waste their money and my time and your time. Do you understand the responsibility you have here?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you want to quit playing the piano?”

“No.”

“OK. Let’s start and see where you are, and then next week you’ll zip right through this piece because you’ll work twice as hard as you did this week, right?”

“Right.”

I have to tell you, folks, nine times out of 10, this delivery worked. In fact, on the occasion that it didn’t work to push the student, it was often the speech that was needed to prod kids into deciding if they really wanted to take music lessons or not.

Certainly if they felt my mom was too strict they were welcome to move on to another teacher, but both parents and kids alike knew they were really just finding a teacher that was more tolerant and willing to accept subpar intentions and performance.

Mom probably saved many of them a lot of wasted money when it was clear that the student never intended to work that hard. Practice is not an option when you choose a career in music; it is required.

Again, that premise offers the most important consideration when pushing people to “step up.” And like I said earlier, this can be the hardest to determine.

Does the person I am challenging have the tools to step up and meet the challenge or am I just setting them up for a failure I can already predict?

To that end, the challenger must be frank with himself and his expectations. The failure of such a challenge can ripple through a company with relentless speed. If workers see their peers struggle, fail, and fall by the wayside, morale follows.

The only way the company can dissuade that opinion is by offering every transparent opportunity to assist the newly challenged to improve their skill sets and achieve better things.

Yes, the 2013 vogue rage in companies to “step up” is being invoked all over the country right now, but please, as you challenge those around you, be sure they have the tools needed and, if not, find a way to help them develop them. These are not tools that can be rented.

Finally, for those who cannot step up as hoped, make sure they know that their efforts and intentions were appreciated and that they are still needed where they originally were. Let’s not get so impressed with improvement that we lose track of the value of what we already have.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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