Developing Employees on Different Paths: The Principle of Equifinality
The idea of equifinality means that there are many paths to the same end—there are multiple ways to reach a final goal.
Think of navigating in New York City from Times Square to Lincoln Center. There are many different ways you can get from point A to point B, and many different methods of transportation to get you between points. Depending on traffic, subway schedules, weather, and other assorted factors, one way is likely faster than the others.
By choosing to take one way over the other—say on this given day it’s a taxi—you’re missing out on many other possible discoveries and observations that walking or taking a bus or subway would have presented.
If you’re focusing on cultivating a culture of innovation and developing your employees, those potential discoveries and observations are key to growth.
A fatal flaw that many managers make is assuming that their ideas or processes are always the best—the most efficient—and therefore need to be continually executed. This assumption (and acting on it) kicks any type intrapreneurial thinking to the curb. In doing so, you’re likely to lose top talent and have trouble retaining employees, especially millennials.
In organizations there are many ways to accomplish a single task. The concept of equifinality is alive and well. Yes, some processes may be more efficient than others, but often times in allowing employees the freedom to chart their own path, new efficiencies emerge.
An employee’s learning process in accomplishing a task is just as important as the task itself.
Here’s an example that applies to sales teams in almost any industry.
Think of a speech, or sales-script, written out word-for-word. If you give this document to ten different employees and tell them they must recite this pitch to-the-letter during all sales conversations, you’d ensure that the words coming out of their mouths were exact. But in doing so you’d be missing out on significant opportunities to develop individual delivery skills, provide employees ownership over their scripts, cater to a customer’s unique needs, and cultivate sustainable relationships between your sales force and potential clients.
How can you use the principle of equifinality to develop your employees? If you’re not sure, let’s have a conversation.
Note: In a previous blog I talked about three phrases that leaders should never use if they want to encourage innovation and participation. One of these phrases, “That’s now how we do things around here,” is very applicable to this post.This entry was posted in Business Foundations, Communication, Employee Development, Feedback, Innovation, Intrapreneur, Leadership, Management, Sales. Bookmark the permalink.