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The Best Advice I Was Given

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

When I was a youngster Chief Petty Officer in the Navy(middle management) I was given a lot of advice for when I lead my first division as the "Chief". They ranged from sagely, arrogant, insightful, to quotes from Batman (it happened). The best I was given all those years ago has withstood the test of time while the others became altered or outright discarded based on my experiences. I was told:

"When you get in there, learn, and find one quality of life change that improves their lives. Make that change."

I found that change. I made it and it saved my maintenance technicians at least an hour of work each day. Then I found another. And I made that one. And then one more. Those first three quality of life changes made a huge impact.

It may look like the huge impact was the improvement in my people's lives. It made a difference there, but it wasn't the biggest impact. It was how they perceived me that was most significant.

When you are a new boss everyone is watching. Your people ask themselves:

What's your temperament? How much are you going to change (because you know us new leaders got that juice, and we have a new efficiency or standards gimmick we want to try out)? What is the impact on my job? These are all things you are being watched for. Do you walk your talk? Or are you another mouth feeding lip service?

Going after a quality of life improvement shows that your people matter. That you care about them. Maybe you do have to make a few changes that aren't quality of life. Well the quality of life changes give you the buy-in and credibility that is essential to selling those other changes.

Something strange happens as time moves on. You will see less apparent quality of life changes to make. We all do. I challenge you to keep looking. Comfortable leadership stops looking. We have our processes set, we know our flow paths for production, and we are loathe to challenge or change those things in order to fix other things. Keep looking and make those changes. These changes provide a compounding interest on how others perceive you.

I want to give a caution though. Don't make too many changes in a short period of time if you don't have to. People want efficiency and safety. Change can threaten both of those. I also would endeavor to be educated on the change I wanted. I would attempt to learn why what we are changing from is what is. Make sure that the changes made are sustainable and impactful.

I challenge you to look around for a quality-of-life change and make that change now!

Be the change maker. The quality-of-life change agent. We are shooting for impact, not of volume. Be impactful.

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