Is "Being Predictable" Essential For Remarkable Success?

You’ve heard these types of comments before as descriptors of an individual who attracts a positive rating from leadership and is viewed as someone with potential to go further in the organization.

“He can be counted on to deliver consistent results; he’s dependable.”

“She’s predictable; you get few surprises from her work.”

Predictability is often, if not always, looked upon as a strength; an attribute that leaders find “comfortable” and desirable.

Also read: Accountability in the Workplace and How it Ties into Employee Engagement

Over my career, I noticed many predictable employees found their way up the career ladder, but these people didn’t add the greatest value to the organization.

In fact, I believe the easy and comfortable employee robs an organization of value because of their restrictive and conservative ways.

Here’s my thinking.

– A high comfort level implies that predictable employees follow the approach expected by the organization’s “establishment”; they follow the rules that govern acceptable behaviour.
Meeting leadership expectations is unwelcome bedfellows to breakaway thinking and results.

– In many ways, being relatively certain of an outcome is uninteresting; the “amaze factor” is absent. The capacity to discover something unexpected is stripped away, denying a result that presents a new opportunity that emphatically changes the direction of the organization.

Learning from what is achieved WHILE it is being achieved is nonexistent.

– Acting involuntarily to a prescribed set of rules means predictable folks’ actions can be formularized. An equation can be used to determine the outcome of their actions with a high degree of precision.

Also read: Why You Should Discuss “Proud Employee Moments” In Performance Reviews

It begs the question “If an algorithm can be constructed that use a person’s action(s) to predict an outcome, why use a human in the process?” You don’t need human value add; use software to create it.

– Predictability suggests compliance and risk minimization which stultifies innovation and creativity. People look for rules and governing policies to guide their behaviour and approach to problem solving.

Original thought is missing in action in favour of dutifully following the rules and practices of the organization.

– Individuals who operate mechanically have difficulty creating a new approach to a challenge or problem if the accepted method doesn’t work. A “Plan B” mentality escapes the predictable one; inefficiency and frustration are produced by continually attempting to reapply the same approach in hopes of achieving a different result.

Predictability does help some individuals be successful in a controlled environment, but there are long term opportunity costs to the organization that are always ignored.

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