Maturity = “Howhen”

howhenLike most parents, I struggle with balancing allowing a child to be a child with expecting them to be a little more mature than their actual age. On some frustrating days, I may even have the gall to expect my children to behave adult-like. Leaders in the workplace have similar struggles. Employees are diverse not just in age but in dozens of ways where behavior is not uniform as perhaps might have been decades ago. The idea of wearing shorts and sandles would be considered unthinkable but Steve Jobs proved that what you wear has little to with how productive you are. Despite this diversity, there are two universal expectations: (1)  that performance not be compromised and (2) a level of Maturity be exhibited in behavior. Performance is easier to process, teach, and expect. Maturity is not. So let me introduce both a parenting and workplace term to process maturity. It is “Howhen” – one word – a new word – easy to remember.
The “what” is intellectual. It is the task to be executed. For example, you make a decision to eliminate a large budget item. This is the “what.” Some “what” are better than others, but most problems do not come from the “what.” After you made the decision, you decided at 2PM in the afternoon when everyone was working in the cubicles to yell that decision as loud as you could standing just outside your office. The “when” was at 2PM and the “how” was by yelling in the hallway. In this example, most of what will be discussed after will not be the decision regarding the budget item, but the decision to communicate that to those impacted by yelling in the middle of the afternoon. This would be considered immature even if the “what” was the correct decision.


So this week, introduce yourself to the term “HOWHEN.” Whatever decision you make, ask yourself about “Howhen” is the best approach. “How” will you communicate it and “When” you will communicate it so that the “what” can withstand both the intellectual test as well as the maturity test. I recommend you use “Howhen” at least five times each day even in conversations. Not only will you feel more “mature” but you will find quickly that the “what” will become better too.

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