Understanding “The Dip” and Why People Quit

There’s a good reason why more people don’t run and jog to improve their cardiovascular health.  It hurts—especially when you’re just starting out.  For me it occurs at about the 3:00 minute mark.  That’s when the early burst of excitement (and caffeine) burns off and now my heart and lungs are laboring to catch-up with the demands my legs are putting on my body.

It’s a time each morning when I really want to quit—and in a lot of cases I did, because it seems like it was getting worse and worse with no improvement in sight.  But an interesting thing happens if I just stay with it a little while longer.  At about the 6:00 minute mark, my heart and lungs do catch up, my breathing is heavy but measured, and I realize that the worst is over.  I can do this!

The same thing happens at work when people face a new difficult task or role.  There is a moment, after the excitement of trying something new wears off, when we realize that this is going to be more difficult than we thought. 

Seth Godin writes about this phenomenon is his book, “The Dip” and it has important insight for any manager looking to improve growth and retention in their organization.  That’s because “the dip” is a prime time when many employees quit a task or a role because it seems too hard with no improvement in sight.

Do you have any employees who are at or near their “dipping point” on a task or role?  What are you, as a manager, doing to help them get through it?  Here are three tips that can help.

  1. Identify where each employee is at with a specific task or role.  Are they an enthusiastic beginner, or has disillusionment set in?
  2. If they are an enthusiastic beginner, channel that excitement by having them work on the right tasks, in the right order, to get the job done.
  3. If disillusionment has set in, add a strong coaching component into the mix.  In addition to clear direction, you are going to have to provide them with a lot of support while they work through “the dip.” Encourage them on progress (even when they can’t see it), remind them of the goal, and make time to be there with training and other resources.

Don’t let “the dip” scuttle your plans.  With a little bit of help, people can power through to success.

One thought on “Understanding “The Dip” and Why People Quit

  1. Pingback: 6 Great Leadership Articles Worth Reading « Gary Ray's Blog

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