The Power of Hate

In a recent interview, I heard Lars Ulrich of the band Metallica, say that when they need motivation for a new song they can always count on hate. Something they hate. Something the establishment hates. Something everyone hates. Plenty of material there.

As we all know, there is a thin line between love and hate. When looking for how to create giant leaps forward, looking for what people like is one approach. But seeing what they hate can more productive.

So, what do your employees hate most about coming to work? And don’t tell me “it’s a job; they should hate it.” We each invest about one-third of our lives at work. During that period, we should believe we are contributing, we are respected, we are part of something that matters, and we are growing to reach our potential. Maybe they hate the long walk to the employee entrance from their cars. Or the selection in the soft drink and snack machines. But more likely they hate the way they are greeted, or the way their ideas are ignored, or the way they spend every single day doing the exact same thing. How can you eliminate the source of that hate? All your stakeholders will benefit.

So, what do your suppliers absolutely hate about doing business with you? The way you use them as a bank? The last-minute changes? The way you promise one thing but do something else? Or the way you ignore suggestions of how they can help you better leverage their capabilities in exceeding your customer expectations? How can you eliminate that hate? All your stakeholders will benefit.

So, what do your customers hate about doing business with you? The constant invoicing problems? The late new product introductions they were counting on? The “it’s not our fault” response to problems in using your products? Or the way you never contribute to conversations about technology alternatives that can kick start their growth? How can you eliminate that hate? All your stakeholders will benefit.

So, what does your community hate about having you in town? Is it the “minimum compliance” approach you take to taxes, safety, health, grounds, and the environment? Is it that you complain about the lack of good skilled workers but haven’t partnered with local schools to show them careers in manufacturing? The “big show” you put on annually to raise funds for a favorite charity but the failure to help staff low profile events during the year? What can you change to earn their love? All your stakeholders will benefit.

You believe that your investors are happy if you pay loans on time and provide reasonable return on investment. But most want more. Most want to know they have contributed to the long-term success of families, of industries, of cities, of technologies, of businesses. What myopic investment decisions do your investors hate? What Pollyanna decisions of yours waste money? Being wrong can be expected, but learning from it is also expected. How do you eliminate the things about your operational decision-making that your investors hate? All your stakeholders will benefit.

Sometimes there’s more value in removing the feather poking through the pillow cover than in providing softer pillows. Don’t overlook the power of hate.

As published in AME’s Target Online