I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~Bill Cosby

One of my mentors once told me that any time you make a change at least one third of the folks will love the new idea, one third won’t care at all, and the last third will hate it.  It doesn’t matter what you try to do, the proportions will be about the same.

My mentor was right.  The interesting thing is that while the proportion stays about the same, the people who feel one way or the other will change depending upon the decision and what is being changed.

I’ve also noticed there is a similar distribution regarding enthusiasm and productivity.  About a third of my teams have consisted of folks that always go the extra mile.  The middle third have been dependable.  The bottom third are less productive.

My current strategy for making changes is to try and make decisions so that the top performing third are also those that are most excited about the change.  The middle third are the middle third.   If there is a third that is going to complain, I’d prefer it also be those that aren’t as productive.

Having said all this, I don’t mean to imply that the bottom third are problem employees.  They usually are not.  However, as Bill Cosby put it so aptly, the key to failure is trying to please everyone.  If I am going to make someone unhappy, I’d prefer it not be my overachievers.  They are the staff that enable the team to excel.

What are your thoughts?

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