So Much Room to Move !!

Rain for hours.  Mud everywhere. Solemn flag retirement.  Scavenger hunt.  Tons of Euchre games.  Food that is flat amazing.  Big word Saturday (you got credit if you used big words during your conversations). Flames shooting from a lantern, and everyone points and says, “Mr. Browne – look !!  Cool !!”

As I type this week’s post, I’ll be honest, I’m exhausted.  I just returned from a weekend of scouting with the great boys and adults of Troop 941. It’s our annual “advancement outing” where we get our new scouts started along their way, and the older scouts also work on things to advance in their ranks. It seems that every Advancement Outing is filled with challenging weather and unexpected surprises.  This one was no different !!

One of the things I truly love about Scouting is that the focus is to let the boys learn, fail, learn again, teach and then move forward.  The hope is that they get the spark to someday reach Eagle Scout.

It’s interesting because the Troop is a microcosm (big word) of the workplace.  Every boy is different and has quirks that make them truly standout.  As adult leaders, we do our best to guide them to making the decisions that will allow them to truly develop.  We are constantly fighting the urge to jump in and fix it all because we learn that our greatest trial is . . . patience.

The beauty of the system is that the boys can do so many things in so many ways to reach their goals.  This drives some adults (and boys) crazy because they feel that tight structure will lend a successful end for one and all.  Some kids don’t even see the structure (which warms my heart !!)

In the workplace, we in HR use policies as our “structure” and we do our best to enforce, cajole and discipline everyone who falls outside of them.  We think we’re doing our job, but not really.  I think policies are broader than most.  They should be parameters that allow people room to move and perform.  They should never be vehicles for control than can never be fully reached and will most certainly not allow people to be consistent.

We need to be like the scouts who look at eminent danger and say, ” Oooh, cool !!”  I learn something every time I get to go and lay under the stars and the rain and the mud.  Amid all that, you only hear playing, laughter and memories being made.  It’s a great “workplace.”  Maybe we’d all enjoy what we did a bit better if we loosened the reigns and allowed people room to move !!

3 thoughts on “So Much Room to Move !!”

  1. yes. yes. yes. susan cantrell’s book “Workforce of One” which preaches the benefits of customizing the career experience talks specifically about rules and policies in a way that it becomes “structured freedom” that is “constrained (only) by clear, organizationally determined and sanctioned boundaries and limits.” in other words, give them enough rope without allowing them to hang themselves.

  2. Love it! So true, so true! It’s amazing what folks can learn when we get out of their way and let them try! As Scout parent myself, I feel so blessed to get to see my son “try out” his skills – even though it is difficult not to intervene sometimes. My husband often reminds me that Scouting provides “the perfect place for him to try out his skills in a safe environment”. How much greater growth could we see in our own employees if we could apply that principle within our workplaces? My guess is we’d be amazed by what our folks do and the creativity and engagement it would create!

  3. Great post Steve! I wholeheartedly agree! HR policies are often viewed as a way to control employees and we all know this does not work out well in the end!! I am currently focusing on growth and leadership development with the leaders in my business and giving them “room to move” is the mindset with which I am approaching the task! Thanks for the awesome example!

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