Friday, March 18, 2016

Death by SOP's

If you knew me in college then you new that I had this legendary process that I would complete at the beginning of every academic semester. As a collegiate athlete I knew that my time was very precious. I certainly did not have enough hours in the day to complete everything that was being thrown my way. So, I figured that when I received the syllabus from each class that I was taking that I would complete all of the reports/papers/projects that were listed in the syllabus for each class. That meant I would hunker down for exactly two weeks in the beginning of each semester and knock out all of the work for each class. I would then neatly put each item in each folder I had for each class. When the assignment was due, all I had to do was take out the appropriate one and hand it in. I know, I know...this must sound crazy. However, it worked for me. I was able to achieve high marks while also limiting the stress I had during the semester. It was awesome to be able to go to track practice and not worry about staying up late to do assignments each night. 

However, the other side of this process I developed was that I didn't necessarily retain a lot of the information in my undergraduate studies. As I progressed to graduate school I backed off of this practice because it was really killing the joy I had in the process of building something and taking my time in doing it. Additionally, when I was doing everything by the "T" and focusing so much on the end result, I didn't allow myself time to work on projects with classmates and develop those special bonds with people on that level. I was just a machine pumping out the product without any emotion. That's why I had to change. I was missing out on the real process of growing relationships in the collegiate school environment. 

After I graduated from my doctoral program at UNLV, I entered the public workforce in a full time capacity. It was then that I really understood the value of developing culture versus developing end result reports and procedural documents. Everyday I was faced with spending more time in the vocational academic environment on either procedural/academic documents or spending time with my students. 

While I certainly completed the formal documents that were required of me, I felt the need to turn them in later (yet still on time) versus earlier. I wanted to spend the majority of my time blossoming meaningful personal relationships with co-workers and creating strong social/emotional rapport with students. This resulted in my "aha" moment which was that people matter more than reports. I learned that the discussions you have over a beer with a colleague are way more important than the droll attendance of meetings in boardrooms and classrooms with my superiors. Now, again...I attended the meetings and fulfilled the requirements, but it never satisfied me. 

Fast forward again and now I'm the General Manager of Club Ridges, which is still my current job
with WTS International. In June I will be celebrating my ninth year with the company. Did you know that before WTS I didn't stay in a job longer than a year and a half? You know why? It is much like Richard Branson says in his amazing book, "The Virgin Way." He says that just because someone has jumped jobs several times doesn't mean they can't keep a job. He says maybe its because those jobs couldn't keep them. This was the case for me. Every job I had before WTS never invested into my growth as a human being. I was just another worker and that didn't work for me. 

At WTS and in particular at Club Ridges, I have been able to as the GM, cultivate a people first mentality. That mentality has grown into one of the most unique, fun and successful work environments in the country. I truly believe that. We don't focus on doing things by the book and we surely don't focus on sitting in an office writing reports and SOP's over and over again. Now don't get me wrong. I believe SOP's are valuable and the need to be done, but I'm not going to spend a ton of time investing into writing an SOP for everything I do. 

Someone once asked me to write an SOP for our culture at Club Ridges. They wanted me to write this SOP as a way to standardize how we did things. My response was I'm not doing it unless you want me to write out some script that says when you walk into the club you will get a hug and get the hard high five. The person on the other end of the phone laughed when I said that. The point is that you can't bottle or operationalize love, camaraderie, partying and sincere passion for the people and the consumers we work with. Its something you can't grasp or write down and have someone follow. You just have to experience it, feel it, touch it and take it in. When you devote the majority of your time in any business towards lifting up the people in that business then you will receive a result that is greater than you could have ever imagined. 

And I'm not alone in this approach. More and more of today's workforce, especially millennials, are not standing for the old school work environment where the boss is in the Ivory Tower sending out memos about procedure and where you just clock in and clock out. They don't want and I don't want meetings upon meetings that lead to no where. They and I want to experience work in its full and vibrant color. That's why I will continue to lead the charge much like powerful heads of innovative companies like Richard Branson (Virgin Companies) and Larry Page (Google). Its the future, but really its beginning to be the now. Don't be beaten to death by SOP's, memos and the such. While they have a place, its much better to focus on being front and center with your team and growing a beautiful flower of positive flow in the workplace. I say this all the time to anyone who will hear makes money. Believe it!

Until next time...

Dr. D
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