Where’s Your Focus?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone has come in and decided that there needed to be some changes made? Maybe it’s new management or people new to a church or place of business. From our perspective walking into something we can see how so many things need to change without knowing anything about the people, organization, or the insides. We don’t have the inside scoop but we’ve already determined how something can be better than what it is that we visibly see.

For example, I’ve worked places as a regular employee and as an assistant manager. At times, new managers would come in to replace the current manager and this could be for several reasons. The current manager could have gotten promoted or they quit or they got fired. Either way there’s a new person walking in and they’ve got a lot of great ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that but before making all of these changes they didn’t stop to take the time to learn the current environment. They didn’t take the time to sit back and observe how things were currently operating. They didn’t ask us, the people who are most familiar with that current area or business, any questions. They just started changing the things that they perceived could work better or look better.

After these changes were made they expected that things would run more effectively. They anticipated that the changes that they made would result in better production, better numbers, increase in customer satisfaction, increase in employee performance and satisfaction. Things would now run more efficiently and as the new manager in training or manager they would be able to report to the district manager all of these amazing changes made that equaled these amazing results. But strangely, that wouldn’t be what happened. Things either got worse or didn’t change at all. Employees got frustrated or felt overlooked and quit. Employee morale went down and we were less productive. This new manager is wondering why none of the changes actually helped. What happened?

One of the most valuable tools I learned from a previous manager who came into a new store after the manager we had got promoted was don’t walk in and change anything immediately. She explained that every time she took over after another manager that she at least spent the first two weeks to a month simply observing. Watching the employees and how they interacted with each other. Watching the employees interact with the customers. Talking to the customers and watching the flow of the store. Watching the different shifts and how the transitions were between the morning shift and afternoon shift. Taking the time to meet with the assistant managers or employees that have been there a long time to get to know and understand them a little before having an all staff meeting. She would ask questions. Sometimes to everyone as a group. Other times she’d speak with individuals asking them different questions.

After observing and asking questions she would then start making gradual changes. Some of those changes would be non-negotiable. Other changes would be a group consensus meaning she would ask us all which change we thought would be most effective. She explained this process to me, when I’d started the journey to become an assistant manager, as part of my training. And how she explained it to me is something that has always stuck with me. She said “When walking into a new situation or when there has been a change in management your most valuable assets are the people that are currently there. Naturally, when coming into new environments we see things differently and want to make changes. But it’s not always the appearance of things that need the immediate change. It’s not always how things are set up that contribute to whether something is successful or not. It’s the people. They know more about this store, the system, the customers, and the environment than I do. They know why things are done a certain way because that’s what makes things more productive. So it would be a huge mistake on my part to come in and decide that everything they’re doing needs to change without actually learning anything about this store or the people who operate it. It’s also an insult to them and communicates that I don’t think they know what they’re doing which not only affects employee morale, but now also affects how they receive instruction from me. So anytime you step in as a new person or new employee or new manager always take time to observe and ask questions.”

My question is how often do we do this? How often do we watch someone doing something and think of ways we can do it better without having all the information? How often do we walk into to places and think how much better something would look or run not knowing anything about the business? How many times do we observe someone doing a particular job and create a list of things mentally we think they could do better, should do better or how we think certain things should operate without knowing a thing about what it takes to do that persons job? Do we give the benefit of the doubt? Do we show grace? Do we tap into the most important resource (the people) and ask questions?

Often times our focus in life can be on the wrong thing. We focus so much on what we perceive things to look like without taking the time to dig deeper and acquire more information. We fail, at times, to use our most important resources. I’m reminded of the story in the Bible where Jesus is there and one sister is flustered, running around trying to prepare things. She’s upset that her sister isn’t helping her and is instead sitting at Jesus’ feet. She even says to Jesus “Hey don’t you think my sister should be helping me?” and Jesus tells her she’s focused on the wrong thing. Her sister is where she should be. All the pomp and circumstance to prepare for Jesus and the other people seemed important but how many opportunities did she think she would get to just sit with Jesus and talk to Him? He’s right there! Be present in the moment. Pay attention to what’s most important. Ask the questions you need to ask. Take value in the people you have with you in that moment. Take advantage of what you can learn or what you need so you can be effective. So you can prosper.

Sometimes the reason things aren’t successful initially or at all is because we lost focus. We didn’t take advantage of the resources we had. We aimed to make changes in a situation without having all the facts. We sometimes don’t see the success of something the way we think we should because we are focused on the wrong thing. We’ve looked at a situation for a short time and have then deemed we have all of the answers when in all actuality we know little to nothing. We haven’t asked God for direction, wisdom, knowledge or even if this is what He wants us to do but then we want Him to bless it after the fact. We want Him to fix the things that are not going well but we didn’t seek Him before we made the change. We made the change in haste without seeking the change agent.

I know I’ve done this before- even recently. So when God reminded me of this I went 😳🤦🏾‍♀️. If you’ve got things not going quite right in life. If you’ve started a new business, a new job, made new friendships or relationships, had some transitions in the work place and you seem a little frustrated or irritated take a step back and reevaluate your initial point of focus. Stop and look at what changes or decisions you’ve made without asking questions or having the facts and readjust. Pray! Ask God to forgive you and then ask Him to make it plain what changes you need to make going forward. Then take it all as a lesson for the next time and remember to adjust your focus. Ask yourself what’s most important in that situation so that what you do next prospers.

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