What Happened to an “A for Effort?”

These days, there is endless talk of evaluation, impact and outcomes. But the Harvard Business Journal article entitled, “What We Miss When We Judge a Decision by the Outcome,” really made me think about the intent.

The article points out how the hiring process is often judged, not on the basis of whether the decision to hire was made thoughtfully or fairly, but on whether the new employee performs well. I remember when I was a new manager, struggling to understand how to develop a strong recruiting process. I was fortunate to have a mentor who essentially held my hand through the entire process. He helped me understand the important questions to ask, what to look for in the answers, how to warmly onboard a new employee, and how to be the best manager I could be. And yet, he forewarned me: humans are unpredictable and regardless of how strong the recruitment process might be, you still never know who you’re going to get.

The same is true for all of our work, regardless of what sector we are in. There are numerous factors outside of our control – whether it’s as big as the waffling economy, or a partner who doesn’t want to play nice, or an overall dysfunctional system. Sometimes we can only do but so much. And it doesn’t matter how many hours we put in or how hard our team is thinking and working. In those moments, we need to step back and recognize our effort and celebrate that. Because at least we’re trying, and that is more than many others are doing.

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