I attended my second citizen police academy program last night and, naturally, I found something to share in this blog. I´m always trying to connect whatever I´m learning about to something I´m writing. It´s always been that way, but anyway, part of the program (please see my "Training is Every Dad" post for some background) focused on training and how this important piece of becoming a police officer has changed over the years. As the presenter drew comparisons between what was offered twenty to more than forty years ago (think "Car 54, Where Are You?" and "The Andy Griffith Show" . . .) I realized how easy it must be to fall into that lazy trap of sticking with the status quo. You know, if it ain´t broke and all that . . . But just because something isn´t broken doesn´t mean that it shouldn´t be updated.
I´m going to share a painful, must-never-happen-again lesson (though this one actually does include something that was "broke," but at the time and in my flawed opinion it wasn´t broken enough. But boy, did I pay).
Here´s what happened (the thing that must-never-happen-again in case I haven "t made that perfectly clear): In addition to writing articles, speaking, working on nonfiction books, and trying to raise two good kids, oh, and be a good partner to my husband, oh, and exercise and eat right . . . I am working on my first novel. I back up like crazy and most of the time I print out what I´ve written. Just in case. Yes, that big black hole of just in case swallowed me up whole last week. While I was backing up like crazy I neglected to fully appreciate the meaning of "alias" as in alias folders that don´t really hold anything but act as buttons (please, high tech people, understand that I am, hopefully, smart in other ways, but technology as in aliases is not my thing). So what did I do at nearly midnight for some inexplicable reason? I replaced a real folder (with a lot of work) with an alias. I was on the phone with my computer guru until nearly three o´clock in the morning. So what happened? Well, a few months ago this little, itty, bitty piece of plastic broke off from some feeder thing in my printer. Each time the printer would spit out more than one page I had to snatch the pages out one by one. Otherwise I´d have a major paper jam. It was time-consuming sitting here babysitting my printer, but hey, someone had to do it. So I put off printing out pages thinking I had backups everywhere-zip drive, flash drive, etc.
I have to believe that anyone reading this post is vicariously feeling what I felt that night: nausea, a monumental sense of loss, and well, I´ll speak for myself-a little stupid. Why, oh, why had I waited so long to replace my printer? What had possessed me to spend more on cosmetics than an all-in-one printer, scanner, fax, copier? I´ll never know. But you can bet that I high-tailed it to Costco and bought a $135 machine and today, life is good. I still back up, but I print, too. And once and a while I recall that horrible night as a sort of negative reinforcement. So far, it´s working.
So what does this fable have to do with developing your employees? Here´s what: if you don´t upgrade your tools, then you leave yourself open to mistakes or, worse, catastrophes. Don´t let laziness or ignorance prevent you (like it did me) from updating what might be working but isn´t nearly as good as you can make it. It may cost more than a printer, but the payoff could be well worth it.
P.S. I´m about halfway through my re-writes . . .