In a book by James C. Collins called Good to Great, Collins discusses the concept of The Stockdale Paradox, which is based on the experience of James Stockdale, a high-ranking naval officer who was held captive as a prisoner of war for seven years during the Vietnam war. He was tortured repeatedly and had no rational reason to remain positive. The dates on the calendar would change, but his situation remained the same.
Every Christmas, Stockdale would expect to be released, only to be disappointed. Each New Year’s Day, he would expect to go home, but for seven years, nothing changed. How did he make it through? He had to shift his mindset. “You must never confuse the faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality,” Stockdale said.
In other words, you must face your challenges with the right balance of optimism and realism. When Stockdale had overly optimistic expectations of going home, he would sink into deep despair when his expectation wasn’t met. He was able to endure once he learned to strike the right balance.
Striking the right balance between optimism and realism is a critical step to becoming a great shop leader. ATI fundamental #17 reminds us to set and ask for expectations. Failing to do this will cause you to be overly optimistic and set you up for disappointment.
Have you ever felt like the dates on your calendar have changed, but your situation remained the same? Instead of remaining a prisoner of this feeling, keep reading to discover two strategies that can take you from good to great!
Non-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies to reach your goals, improve your bottom line, and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at www.atievent.com.
Communicate With Yourself
A key step in moving from good to great is setting the right expectation for yourself. For example, let’s say you hire “Ted,” the “A” technician, to replace yourself in the shop with the overly optimistic expectation that Ted will never leave you. When he does, you sink into despair, vowing to never look for your replacement again!
If you approach this situation with the right balance, you will hire the next “A” tech while continuing to advertise the position. (Always be hiring!) You’re optimistic that he will stay while understanding that he may stray.
When it comes to the ATI program, you must remain optimistic about the possibility of becoming a Top Shop but realistic about the reality that it may take longer than 21 days to change 21 years of bad habits! Approach this situation by prioritizing progress over perfection while working on the program. You may not become a Top Shop overnight, but you can get better every day!
Communicate With Your Team
I have a confession to make. My days as a district manager were filled with disappointment. When I took the job, I expected my team of managers to approach leads the way I would. For example, I expected them to resolve their customer complaints at the shop level and fight to ensure that issues never reached me. I was disappointed when a customer wanted to use her $20 coupon, which expired the previous day, and my manager said, “I’m sorry, but you need to call Eric Twiggs for that!” Initially, I blamed my managers for this problem.
After digging deeper, my perspective changed. Here’s what I learned: Hidden expectation is the root cause of disappointment. I never set expectations as it related to handling customer complaints! Things changed for the better once I told them that they were empowered to resolve all complaints at the shop level and to provide refunds of up to $2,000 without getting me involved.
I faced this challenge with the right balance of optimism and realism. I was optimistic that communicating the expectation at my managers’ meeting would change behaviors. I was also realistic that within an hour, people forget an average of 50% of the information presented at a meeting, so just telling them wasn’t enough. I had them sign a document that verified they understood the policy.
Are you upset with your writer for failing to execute an expectation that you never told her about? (Like exit appointments?) If you don’t communicate with your team, your days will be filled with disappointment!
So, there you have it. James Stockdale’s shift in expectation got him mentioned in the book, Good to Great. If you communicate the right expectations with yourself and your team, you can move from good to great as a shop leader!
Non-ATI Members: For more tips on achieving specific results and running a productive, profitable shop, check out our shop owner events at www.atievent.com.