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#286: If you are looking to improve, this is the one answer that you can not tolerate
Planning for 2023 and beyond? How can you improve the team if all you hear is this?
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For my long time readers, you have heard this story before. For you new subscribers, this is one of my favorites. When I see a situation like this at a client, or hear these words, I simply call it “Roast Beef”. I hope you find out what Roast Beef means, and you won’t tolerate it in your organization!
This story takes place on Thanksgiving, but it is not a Thanksgiving story. The family I’m going to talk about has had a traditional roast beef dinner instead of turkey since they came from the old country. This dinner is without argument the best you’ll ever have, mouth-watering, melt-in-the-mouth tender, phenomenal side dishes, roast beef dinner ever created.
I’m unsure how this dinner is prepared, what the secret recipes are, or what the process is. I do not know these things because the women of the house only make this meal.
But who cares, it is a wonderful & delicious dinner!
Women from every generation gather in the kitchen. They start promptly at nine in the morning and prepare the meal all day long. Legend has it; they have never had a bad meal.
A young lady must reach the age of 16 before she can be part of the preparation team. This year Sarah turned 16 three weeks before Thanksgiving and will have her first experience in the kitchen. She was finally ready to learn the family secrets. With her would-be five generations of women cooking the favorite meal, from the Great-Great Grandmother of 98 down to Sarah! Wow!
They go into the kitchen, and Sarah watches; her curiosity is overwhelming. But then, she begins to ask just a ton of questions.
“Wow, I never knew you put sugar in that. Why isn’t it sweeter, and why are you putting the carrots on the stove now?
What is this have to do with that? Why? All we hear is why, and I am assuming you get the drift. Dozens of questions were asked to Mom, Grandma, Aunts, and Cousin. Each question was answered pretty much the same way:
“Sarah, if you want to learn how to do it, that’s fine, but it has always been done this way, so don’t ask why,” her Mother finally squawked.
Sarah felt rebuffed; she simply wanted to know why. Maybe some of her questions were unnecessary, but she was determined to find out more.
Sarah kept quiet for a while and observed quite a bit. She realized it would take a few more years to understand everything thoroughly. As the clock neared 3 pm, it was time to put the beef into the oven.
Grandmother came up to her and said, “Sarah, you’ve made it … we are getting ready for the ceremonial cut, and you get to do it” her Grandmother proudly handed her a carving knife and said, “just cut 1-inch off each end of the beef and put the rest in the oven.”
Sarah was confused; “What? Why would we have spent the last 6 hours preparing this masterpiece and then cut off two inches of delicious meat and throw it away?”
“Sarah, this is part of the secret; it has always been done this way,” her great-grandmother voiced.
“But I want to know, GG, why are we doing this?” Sarah countered!
“Sarah, we are tired of your constant questions. If we want to eat on time, you need to do this now and put it in the oven,” her Mother countered.
“Sarah, please, you’ve tired us all out,” her Grandmother added …
“No, I can’t … I need to find out,” … Sarah thought.
Sarah looked around the room, and her Great-Great Grandmother wasn’t there. But then, Sarah remembered she was in the living room watching the Lions beat up the Packers. The game was firmly in hand as she found her in the recliner, napping away.
“Great-Great Grandma,” she whispered into her ear … “I’m sorry to wake you, but ….”
“Oh, Sarah, I must have fallen asleep, is everything going okay in the kitchen?”
“Yes, it is, but I have a question that I must ask you,” Sarah was nearly in tears as she continued.
“I’ve done everything they have told me all day, and they won’t tell me why, but I need to know just one thing” Sarah paused to compose herself, not wanting to get rebuffed again.
“The other ladies in the kitchen are ordering me to cut one inch of meat off each end of the roast beef and toss it away as some type of secret. So Grandma, why are we cutting away delicious meat after all this hard work?” she added. “I’m tired of hearing that it has always been done this way; you must give me the secret.”
The old woman sat back in the recliner, thought hard for a moment, and scratched her chin. With an obvious aha moment, she sat straight up. She held her two shaking little hands about six inches apart and said,
“Sarah, when I was your age, the pan was only this big.”
As we plan our 2023 and hope for change, make sure you are finding out why it has always been done this way. If your team can’t answer why then there is no reason to keep something in place that doesn’t make sense.
We hope you had a Merry & Blessed Christmas.
Happy New Year! Let’s make it your best year ever!
If you see Roast Beef in your organization, but can’t seem to find a way to change the menu, connect with me at the Kole Performance Group. Let’s set up a quick ZOOM call to find out more about each other! Remember, it is hard work today, but it will improve your tomorrow.