When Knowing What To Do Isn’t Enough
This week I had coffee with a Human Resources (HR) Consultant who specializes in helping small businesses with challenging employee issues and questions. She advises her clients on the policies, procedures and systems they need to have in place to minimize the legal and performance issues that come with being an employer.
I could tell immediately that she is an expert in her field, holds high ethical standards, and is committed to her clients getting good outcomes. I’ve already recommended her to one of my clients
As she talked about various issues she’d helped clients identify and the specific recommendations she’d made, I asked,
“How often do your clients fail to follow through on your advice even when they know it is the right thing to do?”
“Way too often. They usually end up calling back a year later because the situation has gotten worse as the result of their inaction.”
Sound familiar? How often have you known the action you needed to take, yet avoided taking it for weeks…or months…or years. Or are still waiting?
This “I know what I need to do but …” space is endlessly interesting to me, especially because it shows up differently for everyone. One of my clients received the recommendation from a business consultant to hire someone to run the administrative side of his practice. The numbers made sense. It was the best way to grow the practice. The need was clear. The consultant even wrote the job description and identified an internal candidate that was a good fit for the job. It took 3 years for my client to act on this recommendation, not because he didn’t know the right course, but because he wasn’t ready to let go of “owning” that part of the business. The decision to NOT act cost him in terms of energy, focus and growth opportunity.
When you see yourself not following through EVEN WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED TO DO, you are officially in your own way. The barrier isn’t lack of knowledge or skill anymore – the barriers are those unconscious habits and beliefs that are driving your decisions.
The next time you hear yourself saying “I’ve know for a long time that we need to….” let go of judging your inaction, and instead get curious about what is in the way. Ask yourself:
- What is the risk if I take this action?
- What am I most afraid of?
- What is the risk if I don’t take this action?
- What is the most important for the company or for me that makes taking action worth it?
Sometimes just noticing what is driving your inaction and reconnecting to why the action is important is enough to get you moving. If you’ve been unable to take a key action for your company despite getting excellent advice, give me a call. Together we will shine a light into the space between knowledge and action. I promise – it will be interesting!