I remember taking Driver’s Ed back in high school and learning about Highway Hypnosis. This is said to occur when the driver of a vehicle zones out after a long period of time driving on a stretch of highway that is uninterrupted by stimuli to engage with (no traffic lights, crossings, commercial areas, etc.) The driver can often go for many miles, driving the car normally, without remembering anything about the distance they just traveled. It’s happen to me more times than I care to remember.
This same phenomenon can happen in the workplace, too. Let’s call it My-Way Hypnosis. This happens when the daily activities at work become like that long stretch of highway: standardized, predictable and just plain boring. The team shows up, clicks the things, does the stuff and zones out. Maybe you’ve been in this situation before or are in it right now.
So, what’s the implication for us as leaders? Well, we build the road. It’s the My-Way Highway. Every day, we pave that road with each small choice we make. We always dwell on the big choices, but it’s the small ones that gel and connect to create an experience. We can slowly build a long, straight and boring path or blaze a trail that shifts, changes and engages. There really is a choice.
Here are 5 activities from an average, daily routine which provide us a choice to either create an engaging or boring road for our teams to travel on:
- E-mail: According to Radicati’s E-mail Statistics Report, business professionals can receive more than 80 e-mail messages per day on average. Yikes. Take a look at the last 10 e-mail messages you have sent to your team. Anything stopping folks in their tracks or are they flying on by?
- Meetings: The word alone causes drowsiness, especially with sales people. Think of your last few meetings. Were they the same old slide and grind sessions or did you create an experience that people will remember?
- Conference Calls: Especially with virtual teams, these gems are a regular part of the communication mix. Consider the last conference call you led. What was the energy like? How was the participation? How different was it from every other call you have led?
- Documents: We all have TPS Reports that need to go out and they usually live in some combination of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF. The question is what do yours look like? Are they a maze of grey and black 10-point font on a white background or do they draw a reader in with visuals, color or even…gasp…fun?
- Recognition: This one is huge and presents itself constantly each day. How are you recognizing the people on your team? Are you delighting them with thoughtful, interesting and fun forms of recognition or sending them home with another gift card (if anything at all?)
It’s easy to blame the drivers, our teams, when it comes to cases of My-Way Hypnosis. The first place to look, however, is at ourselves and the kind of environment we’ve created for our team. We have the choice to make changes and they don’t have to be huge or earth shattering in scope. In fact, it’s probably best that they aren’t.
I will be digging deeper into to each of these areas in future articles and sharing ways to challenge the status quo. I would love to get your thoughts as well.
How are you working to avoid My-Way Hypnosis?