Developing Your Future Leaders Part 3… Developing the Leaders Around You
Developing the Leaders Around You
The best way I have found to gain trust is to give a way responsibility. So… that’s what you are going to do. You are going to look for, and perhaps have to develop methods for giving a lot of team member’s responsibility for something. We are not talking about the responsibility for the behavior of others… we already talked about getting people ready for that starting here. By this time you should also be reading Developing the Leaders Around You, by John C. Maxwell.
You might already have positions of responsibility, like a buyer, merchandiser, or other roles in your industry. We are talking about anyone who is responsible for something like keeping track or anything, ordering anything, collecting anything, distributing anything (including information), or any other task that can be transferred from one person to another. Many times we can split off parts of these roles in order to create more opportunities for people to share in the responsibilities.
Remember, we are starting out slow. We want to allow people the opportunity to stretch and try something new, while putting no more onto their plate than they can handle, at least at first. With your experience, you might think some of these roles are ridiculously small and easy, however we will be giving this small responsibility to people who may have never been trusted to do anything before. They will appreciate any trust we give.
We can make a team member responsible for order just one part, or just cups (or just one size of cup for that matter), or just paper goods, or soda, just screws, or just nuts, ordering rags, keeping track of pallets, distributing and/or collecting training forms (or any kind of form), keeping track of who turned in their form, updating a calendar, collecting and filing old schedules, reconciling anything you have… the choices are limitless… use your imagination.
If you manage a restaurant you have plenty of ways to offer responsibilities to those you want to develop. Break up parts of your perishable and dry goods orders and allow your new apprentice to get his or her feet wet. How you ask?
Well… it’s been a while since managing restaurants, and still… how did you learn to order? Someone picked up the order guide and walked you through the cooler. They talked their way through the guide as you walked through the cooler. You probably have pars for everything you order, so it’s not rocket science. If you are not using pars, you should. Once they are in place, simple math and a commitment to getting it right is all it takes. The first few times, maybe more if you feel uncomfortable, do the order with them. Then you can hand it off completely, meaning they do the order, and you check the order before sending it. You decide when you can let go completely. Remember, someone trusted you. To be a Leader you have to extend trust.
You can do the same thing with dry goods. What else do you order? Paper goods? You can delegate, or give away responsibility for, almost anything and everything. Checking in orders, back room cleanliness and organization, keeping up the bulletin boards… anything. A team member who has potential, and yet has never before had a Leader like you, will do anything they can to earn trust, respect, and the chance to move up and make a little more money. All you need to do is develop those relationships, and instill the belief that you trust them, care about them, believe in them, appreciate them, and need to them to be successful. Once that is done, or at least started, and you start talking to people about the chance to learn something new and have a little responsibility, the people who are ready for the chance will be all over it.
For someone who has never before been trusted, and who now has a Leader who cares about them, who wants to see them succeed, and who believes they are a valuable part of the team, no responsibility is too small. You may be the first person in this team member’s life to believe in them and trust them. You have a big responsibility to not let them down… give them all of the training, tools and support they need to be successful in this role. No matter how small you think the responsibility, make it a big deal for them, celebrate their success, and I guarantee you will gain a committed and loyal team member. Gaining a committed and loyal worker is worth so much more than time and energy getting there will cost. Imagine what you could do with a team full of committed and loyal team members… maybe not all superstars, and all committed and loyal? You could do amazing things!
You, and whoever else is involved with dividing up these tasks, and training your team members, will all have to be on the same page with this. Meet with everyone involved, and make sure they fully understand why you are doing this, including the long-term benefits.
The long-term benefits here are many. You gain trust, loyalty, and respect by helping your team members achieve their goals and advance their careers. You have Leaders in the pipeline to replace the people who are promoted or leave the company. Your job ceases to be putting out fires because you have so many people who are invested and committed to their jobs. You experience fewer call outs and no shows. You have more people who are willing to work an extra shift when the need arises. You suffer fewer interruptions in workflow thanks to a more stable workforce. Your turnover is now way below industry standards, saving you quite a bit of money, even though your are paying your stable, committed, dependable workforce more than industry standards.
You have two jobs here. One is to set the expectations of the people who will be doing the training. The thing we are not doing is threatening their jobs. We trust them enough to train someone to do their job (or at least parts of it), and you have been talking to them for some time now about their future, right? They trust you, at least more than they had in the past, and know you have their best interest at heart. None of this is new, as we will have been setting the stage for this for some time. They will know that we are looking for them to move into the next level of Leadership, whether that is a supervisory role, buyer, assistant team Leader, or whatever intermediate role you have in your workplace, as soon as they are fully prepared to assure their success in that role. You are helping them advance their Leadership qualities, job skills, and career.
For the people who are getting trained, you will have been talking to them about developing not only their Leadership skills, but also their job skills. This is the next step. They will still have their team member responsibilities, and part of the time they will be learning the skills to move into their next role. You will have been preparing them for this step for months… talking about the opportunity, and making sure they have the basic knowledge needed. The only thing worse than someone ending up in a role for which they are not prepared, is being the person who put them in that role without first preparing them to be successful.
For me, one of the worst things I have experienced at work, is putting someone in a role with responsibility, and finding they could not meet the expectations of the role. After doing it once, I would not allow myself to do it again. One person losing their job because I put them into a role they were not ready for was one too many. Several people have since left my team because I was not satisfied that they were ready for the next step, and I was not prepared to promote them. I’m OK with that.
Please do not put yourselves or your team members in this situation. Choose the right people and make sure you have prepared them well enough so you have no doubts about their success in their next role. Be sure of even the most basic skills… I have had team members who never really got basic math, and yet were able to fake and lie their way much farther than you would believe. When they were finally ready to be put into the next challenging role for them, where basic math skills could not be faked they were found out (and quite embarrassed). Make it easy on everyone, and go over even the most basic skills that would otherwise be taken for granted, with each team member before you choose the next role for him or her.
You will probably have to spread this process out over some time, because you will wan to be checking in with each and every team member. You are their team Leader, and no one’s attention will mean more to them than yours. Never underestimate the power, authority, and influence that the role of Team Leader brings with it.
After a while, when things are going pretty smoothly, every team member who has responsibilities will have a back up… Someone who is learning that job. Yup. Everyone gets the chance to learn something, and have more responsibility. It doesn’t matter what the responsibilities are, that person will be training a back up. By this time the only people you will have in positions with responsibility will be those who have shown their Leadership qualities in some small way, and you are now developing those qualities and preparing them to become the next layer of Leaders in your company. Even if someone is only responsible for reordering the paper towels, they get to train someone to do that job. They will look forward to getting more responsibility, and you just gained yet another more committed team member. Soon you won’t have to bring in any talent from the outside… you are raising your own. All you have to do is continue to use our method of hiring the best team members.
Remember that you will now have to walk them through how to train another person. Do not assume that anyone knows how to train another person. It takes confidence, patience, communication skills, listening skills, and they must be willing to extend trust. So this too will be a longer process than you were probably hoping it would be. Do not allow yourself or any of your apprentices to skip any steps here. It only takes one person to undo much of what you have been working so hard to build, so your job is to take it slow, follow up, and follow up. OH… and don’t forget to follow up.
If you are unsure about any of this, or have any questions at all, please feel free to ask. I know that I repeated a few thoughts in this post, and this part of the process is very important in building your Leadership development machine.
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