When life gets hectic, it’s pretty easy to lose focus of what really matters. Take family life for example. My two little children are growing up remarkably fast and my wife’s pregnant with the third. Combine that with my odd compulsion for triathlons, riding my bike and not to mention the ever busy day job – my life is pretty hectic!
And when life gets like this it’s difficult to get parenting right, especially when you’re gallivanting around the country and further afield on business. You never really feel like you spend enough time with your children. The same goes for investing time in relationships with other important people – like our colleagues or people who look up to us in our work teams.
So sometimes we overcompensate for lack of time with our families. Perhaps you spend money on extravagant toys (that get played with and ignored). Or you organise fantastically complicated days out, packing in a ton of fun things to do alongside an elaborately prepared picnic which always takes too long to make (and inevitably ends in two very tired and cranky toddlers, and one abandoned day out).
This morning it struck me how far the balance had tipped in the wrong direction when my eldest jumped into my bed just as I was about to rush out of the house. Five minutes later I was Captain Daddy while my son protected us from shark infested, stormy waters swirling around the good ship Bedboat. It was hairy stuff for a while but I made it to work in one piece, and the grin on my son’s face was worth it.
What this experience teaches us is pretty obvious when you think about it. It’s not the big stuff that matters when you’re trying to engage with people, it’s the little stuff. It’s the five minutes you spend finding out what matters to them – by seeing the world through their eyes when you haven’t really got the time.
These little things are what we call ‘quick wins’ with our culture assessment clients. And by swiftly addressing what matters to people or frustrates them, the engagement and the improvement you gain is much bigger than you ever imagined – even before any major culture change gets underway.