One of the most valuable things you can do is to think about your own thinking. How does the way you think affect the work you do? Are there mindsets that you can change that can help you grow?
At The Family Knife, we're a collection of very different personalities and work styles, but the mindsets we try to bring to work every day are the same — work your own way, embrace the numbers that matter, focus on what works, have some fun, and get it done.
Here are our thoughts on the 5 mindset shifts we've made over the years and how they’ve helped us and our clients learn and grow.
1) Old Way: Everyone needs to work the same way / New Way: Build balance on your team
"Hustle" culture is a hot topic right now, but that doesn’t work for everyone—including me. I'm a sprinter, not a hustler. To be truly creative and effective I need time to think—I can't fill my day with tasks, I need time to re-assess my trajectory and adjust. And I’m not satisfied with the feeling of doing something, it has to be the right thing.
If you have a sprinter on your team, they need time to think, process, and decompress to have great ideas. They also want to focus on what matters, not just getting more things off their to-do list. If you have a hustler, they need to be heads-down for long periods of time to accomplish the goals, but they can often be loaded up with tasks and projects with varying timelines and it will all get done.
The key: find balance in yourself and your team. Embrace your style, and surround yourself with people with other work styles—you'll find success in the balance.
2) Old Way: Vanity / New Way: Results—Embrace the numbers that matter
Are you worried about how many followers your company has on Facebook? Or how many likes your posts on LinkedIn get? You can get buried in likes, but likes don't build businesses. Are you driving website referrals from social media? Are you getting qualified leads through that referral traffic? Is your customer service team fielding important messages through Facebook?
Those are the things to focus on. Followers, likes, and engagement are only early indicators of later success, they are not success or failure in themselves. A single like is worth nothing in itself. A thousand likes are worth nothing. The only thing worth anything is business results. If you want more followers, think about whether you're turning your current followers into customers. If not, then you want to shift your mindset to bottom-line business results.
3) Old Way: Precision / New Way: Accuracy
We all love data. But just because you have a precise number doesn't mean you have a valuable number. Knowing your website's precise bounce rate doesn't necessarily mean you've learned anything useful about your marketing efforts. A precise number is by no means necessarily an accurate number.
Pouring over your website or social media data and performing complex calculations to figure out your engagement rates may not actually be telling you anything useful. The numbers you should worry about are the ones that tell you whether or not what you're doing is working, and "working" should be defined as moving towards your goal and/or "making or keeping customers."
Often the love of a comprehensive dashboard is a desire to show all the activity that's happening. To show that the team is working hard. But it’s most important to show that your team’s work is working. Don't let precision numbers get in the way of meaningful numbers. Focus on the end results, and measure against those numbers.
4) Old Way: Managers need to spend most of their time in meetings / New Way: Your time is valuable, manage it well
This one is huge. I fell prey to it for a long time. Most managers spend most of their time in meetings, but it doesn't have to be that way! You can run a team without a weekly status meeting (try it). You can run a company without a weekly management meeting.
Reset your mindset: Meetings are to present ideas and get feedback, not to come up with new ideas. They're to discuss challenges, not to share updates. If it can be discussed in an hour, it can be discussed in half an hour. And if it can be discussed in half an hour, it could have been an email.
If you’re worried about the competition, or about how other businesses are able to work faster or get more done, consider whether they’re simply having fewer meetings every week or every day. Chances are they’re simply spending more time on the work and less time talking about it.
5) Old Way: Ideas are the most important thing / New Way: Implementation is everything
What is the value of an idea? Pretty much nothing.
We all have "million dollar ideas." You probably have a few every day. Because having an idea isn't the hard part—getting it done is the challenge. The ability to take an idea and turn it into reality, shepherding and sheltering it through feedback, criticism, "helpful" suggestions, layers of bureaucracy—that's the hard work. The ability to do that is what makes some people great and successful, and the inability to do it is what makes others resentful.
The mindset that you or your team needs to be generating new ideas all the time is holding you back from real effectiveness. Shift your mindset to making a few great ideas reality, and away from the drive to simply come up with more and more ideas, and you'll unlock innovation, enthusiasm, and real business results.
If you’re interested in how you can help shift your team’s mindsets, get in touch! We’d love to help.