Growing up I heard this advice often: don’t use a shotgun when a .22 will do.
I thought I understood, but it wasn’t until recently that I really began practicing this wisdom.
My dad was great at giving advice like this. Perhaps it came from him being a high school football coach, a government teacher, or having a Doctorate in Education – which earned him the nickname Doc. He was great at putting things in perspective for me. He coached me. He taught me. He shared this kind of wisdom with me early on and still to this day.
I learned the hard way, this little gem is one of those things you have to fail at to really get (at least I did). I was working at a prominent Cable company as a sales manager and had the responsibility of managing multiple sales channels. At one point a staff of 30 looked to me, a young manager, for guidance. I was in the habit of sending out broadcast emails with sweeping policy changes when something would happen that wasn’t in line with my expectations. I’d use the shotgun. If one person messed up it was only a matter of time before others committed the same “crime”, or at least that’s how my mind worked. I didn’t trust. I used the shotgun instead of the .22 caliber.
I’d love to say that it’s easy to overcome this problem, but that wouldn’t be the truth. I now recognize it much more often, in my own business and others [like when Yahoo! says no more work at home] but I still have to work to employ this advice.
So when you want to copy everyone on that email, think twice. When you want to make sweeping changes because a few are abusing a privilege [even Yahoo! does it], think twice. When you are about to change a policy because of one or just a few, think twice and don’t use the shotgun... use the .22.