Leaderisticality

How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the category “Trust”

Building Relationships… What Exactly Does That Mean?

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 9 of a series…

So let’s try to finish up our series on hiring for, and developing our team from average to great.  You’ll remember (I hope) that we’re talking about hourly team members, from no experience/entry-level to Store Team Leader level… you can find part 1 here.  At this level, which includes almost all retail/restaurant jobs (almost anyone paid hourly) we are hiring for qualities rather than skills, as we can teach anyone most any skill needed, however we cannot teach anyone the qualities we need…  And as an added bonus, if we hire exclusively for Leadership qualities, we need never look elsewhere for our future Leaders.

We also talked about how to hire for customer service, as well as the importance of indoctrinating our new hires.  For the last few posts we’ve discussed moving those few people who don’t belong on our team off of our team; moving our current team members from average to great by introducing new expectations (while owning our part in allowing the old behaviors); and the beginning steps to changing the culture of our team.

So let’s pick up by talking about developing relationships… what exactly does that mean?  A long time ago, when I was new to being responsible for the behavior of other people, I kind of thought that meant figuring out how to manipulate them into doing what needed to be done.  I was not very self-aware, and looking back; I was a pretty selfish young man.  So… what I wanted, and what I was responsible for making happen, was much more important than what the people working for me wanted or needed.

Needless to say, I found my work to be a constant struggle, moving between attempting to befriend my workers, attempting to coerce them through fear or intimidation, and following up after them, often doing the work that still needed to be done myself.  It was exhausting!

Through SO MANY mistakes, some huge and painful life lessons, reading some great books, and with some great advice and mentoring by a few good Leaders I was lucky enough to work with/for, I was able to start to understand that it’s not all about me and what I want or need.  I remember my mother, as well as the nuns in Catholic school, telling me that doing for others is it’s own reward; and that working for the good of the group will almost guarantee that you will get what you want (perhaps by changing what we want!?).  It was many years before I understood these lessons, and could start putting them into practice.

So where am I going with all of this?

Building relationships is not about getting what you want.  In order to have our team members want to do what needs to be done, they have to trust us, believe in, and care about the goals of the team, and know that helping them achieve their goals is genuinely important to us.

So… building a relationship with another person starts with getting to know that person.  It’s about them… not you!  I have come to believe that most people can tell in pretty short order when the person speaking to them is genuinely interested in them, or if they are trying to manipulate them.  The only reason to proceed from here is because you are genuinely interested in learning about the other, and in helping them achieve their goals.  If you move forward with any other intentions, I believe it won’t be long before you are found out, and you will have blown your chances of developing a trusting relationship.

Let’s move forward believing that we are all on the same page… that we are not saints, so we have our own goals, wants, and needs (sometimes we act selfishly, and sometimes we are self-absorbed).  And… more often than not, we are genuinely interested in helping other people achieve their goals, and helping other people makes us feel good.  We good?

Building relationships takes time.  We have to make a real commitment to this effort, as it will take many months (at least) depending on the size of your team, and how you have acted in the past, to get to know your team members, and start to build trust between you.  You will have to meet with each team member (or at least your department team Leaders) a couple of times/month at first in order to get to know them; show them you are really committed to them and this process; and to be able to take some action towards helping them achieve their goals.

If you try to rush this process, you will not achieve the results you want.  Your team members will see that you simply want to get to some end where they do your bidding, and you will have wasted all of your time.  Please either commit to this fully, or do not start the process until you are ready to fully commit.

Do not fool yourself into believing that you already have the relationships you need.  If you did, you would not need to change the culture of your team.  You would just need to alter your expectations, and perhaps get your team together to come up with some aggressive new goals.  And if you are reading this, that is not where you are.  If you actually have great relationships with your team members, you probably don’t need my help, and you most likely already have a great team.  So let’s get realistic, and commit to doing this right.

Wow!  1000 words, and my posts are already much longer than people tell me they should be.  So… we’ll stop here, and perhaps part 10 will be the last of the series.  Next time we’ll talk about purposefully developing a culture where feedback is expected, and where it is “heard” as an attempt to help us constantly and incrementally improve.

Remember that this Blog Leaderisticality.wordpress.com will be going away, so if you want to continue reading (and I suggest you do!) you’ll want to go to http://www.leaderisticality.com and sign up to follow there.  Thank you!

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Changing The Culture Of Our Team…

Japanese wave posterWhat Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 8 of a series…

We’re winding down in our series on how to hire for, and develop a great team.   We’ve talked about hiring our hourly team members (from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leader level) for qualities rather than skills, indoctrinating those new hires, and changing the expectations of our ‘old’ team members to begin the transformation from average to great.

Hiring only the best is a mandatory starting point.  I believe indoctrinating them is also mandatory to have a truly great team.  Introducing the needed changes to our ‘old’ team members must be done carefully and intelligently in order to avoid the pushback that comes so naturally.

Now we must introduce and maintain some behaviors and relationship habits without which I don’t believe great can be achieved.

3.  Changing the culture of our team.  This part will take some time, and can only be changed by building relationships with your team members… each and every one of them.

Changing the way our team members interact with each other is perhaps the hardest part.  Since our actions and choices allowed the current culture to form, the only way to change it is to change our actions, and make different choices.  Yes… you are to blame for the culture on your team.  You are to blame for the average performance of your team.  Blaming your team members is like parents blaming their kids for playing video games all day.  You allow the behavior…  If you don’t like it, don’t allow it.   And the change must begin and end with you!

As Leaders, we can break our teams all by ourselves.  Our actions (or lack thereof), our selfishness, arrogance, and any number of other behaviors can easily crush the spirits of our team members, and destroy any positive efforts on their part.

We cannot however make our team Great by ourselves.  For most of us it takes concentrated effort, more energy than we thought we could muster, and the investment of an insane amount of time in order to bring together the people around us and form an actual team.

The crazy part is that most of us are capable of achieving this goal as long as we are in it for the right reasons.  Our team members do not expect us to be perfect; have all of the answers; or always say the right things.  They do expect us to genuinely care about them; to try our best; to admit our faults and failures; to freely give credit where it is due; to accept the blame when things go sideways; and to put the goals of the team ahead of our own.

We must all be willing to admit and talk about our faults/failures.  As the Leader it is our job to show everyone how this is done.  We must be the example, and talk openly and honestly about our faults and failures.  I believe that the only way to get our team members to admit to, speak honestly about, and ‘hear’ feedback about their mistakes is seeing their team Leader do the same.

We must never punish failure, or allow other’s failures to become fodder for jokes.  If we are not failing, we are not trying enough new ways to achieve great!  Many of you are/will be hesitant to really open up and share your mistakes/failures with those who work for you.  I would suggest that anything like this, that is difficult for us, is necessarily the very work we need to do in order to improve ourselves as Leaders.

We must install a culture of almost constant feedback.  At first it may be difficult to get the rest of the team on board with giving and accepting feedback.  It is human nature to take a defensive stance when we believe we are being attacked.  Feedback is rarely used to foster positive change in most workplaces, so accepting this as a long-term process will serve you well.  This topic needs a lot more time, so we’ll talk about this more next time.

We must align our rewards systems with innovation, risk taking, and Leadership development.  If the bottom line (or any other measure) is given the highest reward, everything else is guaranteed to fall by the wayside to be forgotten.

Profitability and the bottom line can and should be rewarded, and… unless all of the steps needed to move our team towards Great are recognized and rewarded, and the process itself is given the importance and attention it deserves, all of our efforts will be reduced to yet another failed attempt to create positive change… just another flavor of the month come and gone.

We must build strong, trusting relationships with our team members.  Sometimes this will mean developing relationships with all of our team members.  On larger teams, we will only be able to develop deep relationships with our team Leaders.  We then teach them how to develop those relationships with their team members.

Since team member happiness and engagement is really a measure of our relationship with the person to whom we report, this relationship chain is vital to achieving Great.  We cannot fathom moving past average without getting the vast majority of our team members actively engaged in their work.  And this can only be achieved through strong, trusting relationships!  We’ll talk more about relationship building next time too.

I think one additional post; to more fully describe the behaviors and habits needed to move our culture to one that values Great is in order.  More specifics on building relationships, as well as how to develop a culture of feedback will help.  I’m sure that in my haste to wrap this up I’ve left out many steps that you will recognize by their absence, so please don’t hesitate to speak to them in the comments.

Remember that this blog will be going away soon, and all content will be available on http://www.leaderisticality.com   If you are interested in continuing to read my posts, please head over to http://www.leaderisticality.com and sign up to follow that blog.

Thank you!

Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Helping People Find Happiness Elsewhere

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 5 of a series…

Welcome back!  Here we are, working on building a great team of hourly team members, from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leader.  We’ve talked about hiring the best people by hiring for qualities rather than skills, because we can teach pretty much anyone almost any skill, however we cannot teach qualities.

Last time we talked about the need to indoctrinate (or whatever you choose to call it) your new hire just as soon as you make the decision to hire them.  The importance of this cannot be overstated… you simply cannot leave this to anyone else.  Only you, the team Leader, can imbue your new hire with the team’s values and goals, the work ethic you expect, and make sure they know that you not only value and appreciate what they bring to the team, but also your commitment to helping them achieve their goals.

I have found that stating these things without the passion, belief, and energy that we would imagine someone who is ‘indoctrinating’ another person would use, will end with us failing to achieve the desired results.  The process, and how the message is delivered are as important as the actual message.  At least this is what I’ve found in my experience.

It is most important that you begin developing that strong, trusting relationship the day you decide to add them to the team.

Now that we are hiring the best people, we need to keep these great new hires from joining the ranks and adopting the current culture, and change the culture and of the team.  Without changing the culture, as well as the expectations of our current team members, those great new people will either become mediocre, or leave.  We cannot allow that to happen!

To keep that from happening, we need to be doing several things at once…

  1. 1.    Get the people who do not belong on a great team off the team as quickly as possible.  Even if that means we run short handed for a while, the risk of allowing them to poison our new hires far out weighs the short term effects of being short handed.  All of our time and effort spent finding the best people and getting them excited about working on this great team will be for naught if we do not get those who are not interested in being part of a great team off of our team.

If we are not willing to follow through on this critical step, we will never be able to develop that great team.  People who do not belong on a team are like poison, and no amount of coaching, or relationship building can mitigate the damage they will do.  The percentage of people who cannot be won over, and will need to be removed from the team is small.  If you are feeling that a large number, 10%, 15% or more of the current team members need to leave the team, perhaps we should take a hard look at our reasons for wanting them off the team.

When turning a team around, it is easy to feel that everyone we did not hire, everyone we don’t immediately see as a great addition to the team, or everyone who might be loyal to the previous leader needs to go.  In fact, what most likely needs to happen is we need to spend the time to develop relationships with the majority of these team members.

I have found that the range of people who can be great team members is much wider that many people think.   People who are not currently great, and who can become great team members have usually been mistrusted, and mistreated by their past team Leaders.  If we make sure they are trained, extend trust, and develop strong relationships with them, we will find that many of our current team members can move with us from average or mediocre to great.  It’s up to us as Leaders to do everything we can to engage with, and get the best out of each and everyone of our people.

For those very few who are always negative; do not wish to do the work it takes to be part of a great team; or will not be honest and genuine enough to allow a relationship to be built, we must be decisive and move them off the team as quickly as we can.

I didn’t mean to spend so much time on this one sub-topic, and I feel that its importance can’t be overstated.  Feeling that more than a few people need to leave the team is probably a clue that we are allowing ourselves to be driven by our fears, which will make it impossible to achieve great.  And at the same time, failing to take action with the few who do need to go will also keep us from achieving great.  Working with our coach or mentor can help us determine where the truth/balance lies, and keep us from getting derailed.

Next time we’ll talk about changing the expectations of our current team members…

Oh… one more thing.  Somehow, through my inexperience and experimenting with blogs, I ended up with 2 blogs.  So… soon I will be dropping this one and keeping http://www.leaderisticality.com  If you are interested in continuing to follow my posts, please head on over to http://www.leaderisticality.com and sign up to follow that one.  Thank you so much for your support!

Leadership Or Manipulation?

Big doors

If We Are Developing Relationships For The Express Purpose Of Influencing Others, Is That Leadership Or Manipulation?

I started to write a post on developing relationships, and the connection between my thoughts on what Leadership is and is not, and how and why we develop relationships burst into my mind.

I have come to believe that we, people, can only consistently act like great Leaders if we have developed “Leadership qualities”. That is to say Leadership is not a list of behaviors or actions… it is rather how we see ourselves and the world, and this understanding, this way of being, determines the actions and behaviors by which we define Leadership.

So… we can learn the ‘skills’ needed to develop relationships. We can learn how to talk to our team members, get to know them, and do what we can to help them achieve their goals. We can try to share something of ourselves in order to build a level of trust or openness between us, and through this we will probably achieve some level of influence over these people.

And unless we are doing it because we actually care about those people; because we sincerely want to know them and help them; and we care less about the outcome than we do about the relationship, then I would call that manipulation.

I have witnessed an amazing amount of this kind of behavior. I have been manipulating end when I was younger and didn’t know any better, and on the receiving end working for people who were acting out of fear rather than caring.

In my experience this behavior can achieve some results, and only for a limited amount of time.

If we don’t truly care about the people around us we will not be able to carry on investing in them when things go sideways and the pressure is on.

If we care more about the outcome than we do about the people we will eventually have to toss aside those we don’t believe are moving us towards our own goals quickly enough.

If we don’t believe that the world is a safe place, and we are acting out of fear, we will not be able to extend trust for very long, and our need to be in control will take over.

Building relationships can give us influence, and only if we are building those relationships for the right reasons. If you are not getting the results you want; find your team members do not really trust you; or you just don’t really get the whole ‘relationship’ thing… you might think about your motivation for trying to build those relationships in the first place.

Do You Remember What It Was Like To Be New?

Train track making connections

We were all new at some point. We can be new in our job… perhaps getting a promotion or hired in at a level that is new to us, as well as simply working in a new environment. Both of these bring challenges, and as Leaders our actions can have a major impact on the kind of relationships our new hires develop at work, as well as how they feel about us and their new job… which in turn determines their level of engagement.

What I’m talking about goes much deeper than onboarding… our happiness, satisfaction, and level of engagement at work is directly connected to our relationship with the person to whom we report.

Different organizations have different onboarding procedures, which can certainly enable our new hires to want to be helpful, and feel as if they are welcome and part of the team. And it’s you; their team Leader, working with them daily (or as often as you possibly can) that really allows them to help the team achieve its goals.

And if we stay in the same organization for a while, we can easily forget what it’s like to be new. It’s all too easy to become a bit arrogant about what people should know, what basic expectations should be understood and automatically met, what rules and roles are universal as opposed to unique to our organization, and what behavior and communications styles are expected and acceptable.

If we as Leaders fail to remember what it was like to be new the damage can be irreparable.

We can easily alienate our new hires by failing to show empathy. Starting a new job can be stressful enough without out boss expecting us to know and understand all of the in’s and out’s of our new workplace in the first few days/weeks.

We can make it easy for them to feel overwhelmed, which will certainly impact the quality of their work, as well as their level of commitment to the team goals.

Our demands and expectations can encourage them to think that perhaps this was a mistake… maybe they should not have accepted our offer? This is tough to fix once the damage is done.

Or minimally, we can fail to make this transition period as short and as pleasant as it can be.

So how can we remember what it was like to be new?

And in what ways can we help our new hires adapt to their new role and new environment?

To remember what it’s like to be new we can:

Spend some time with kids. Kids are constantly learning and exploring the world, and spending time watching and interacting with them can help keep us grounded. Kids constantly remind us of what it’s like to be new at something.

If we keep our long-term goals in mind, seeing them… living them every day, we will be much more likely to remember what it’s like to be new. Keeping our long-term goals active helps us asking “what if”? And “why not”? These are the questions we asked when we were new…

Work with your new hires at every opportunity. You have a vast ocean of knowledge and experience compared to the thimble of knowledge your new hire has. Only through working with them can we impart that knowledge to our new hires. Every day, when we work alongside our new hires, with their fresh eyes, they ask us questions about things that we have come to think are obvious….

At times it can take A LOT of patience, and the rewards are well worth the effort. You will be building relationships that create engagement, loyalty, and trust.

To help our new hires adapt we can:

Be mindful of not doing things the easy way… not taking shortcuts. As Leaders we should always do things the right way… people will almost always find their own short cuts, so if they see us, their Leaders, taking short cuts they will find a shortcut from that point, probably leading to poor quality work. We will have set them up for failure.

Make sure that your new hire really understands your commitment to helping them achieve their goals. This will come from meeting with them, working with them, and developing an honest, trusting relationship with them.

Make a quick list of all of the mistakes you have made. For me, there is no way this is a quick list… Remembering and sharing all of my mistakes with my team members helps keep me from taking my knowledge and experience for granted, and it puts my new hires much more at ease. They can avoid making a few of my mistakes, and they seem to have an easier time approaching me with questions.

Make it clear that you expect mistakes. If we are not making mistakes we are not trying hard enough to achieve great. Just make sure I hear about it from you first!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to remember what it’s like to be new, as well as ideas about how to help our new hires adapt to their new environment.

How Successful Leaders Build Teams That Thrive

I really enjoy both what Tanveer Naseer has to say, and the way in which he says it.  I think his posts are well written, and give us useful information to make us better Leaders.  I have not done this with anyone else, and if you are going to follow any blogs, his should be one of them.

How Successful Leaders Build Teams That Thrive

Why You Should Hire For What Can’t Be Trained

Train track making connections

Every company has systems set up for training. We have modules, packets, guides, and perhaps even ‘how to train the trainer’ training sessions.

And I’m going to bet the majority of those are for training “soft skills”. Perhaps a quarter to half of them are task based, and with the rest you are attempting to train qualities.  The problem is qualities can only be learned when we are  ready to learn, and when we need to learn that particular quality.  We learn these from experience.

Seriously… take a quick look at the list of trainings you have spent time and money on in the past. How many skills or tasks are on the list? And how many qualities does it include? If you are attempting to train qualities you are wasting your time and money.  Why you ask?  Well…

Does anyone really believe that Trust can be taught during a one or two-day training session? Trust is something that must be learned through life experience, through challenging and changing the way we see the world and how we fit in it. How would you even begin to train someone to extend trust?

You could tell them why they should, and if they do not see the world as a safe place, they will not be able to extend trust. You can describe how to extend trust, and tell them the benefits of extending trust, and if they don’t already have self-confidence and courage they will not be able to extend trust. We simply cannot do what we don’t have the tools to do.

Does anyone reading this believe that they can spend a couple of hours, or even days with someone, and leave them with the ability and desire to develop honest, trusting, strong relationships? This again comes to us from life experience… the desire as well as the ability to be honest and open with other people is either within us today, or it is not. If it is not, no one can put it there. Every person must do his or her own personal work, and with luck, come to the point where we feel that we are enough just the way we are, truly love ourselves, and genuinely care about others. Only then can we really open up to others, and build the kind of trusting relationships it takes to be a Leader.

Which of us can teach passion? You, over there… can you teach someone how to be charismatic? You may be able to teach them the definition of the word, and perhaps how we think charismatic people act… and I don’t believe that any of us can teach a quality that comes from within.

What about Vision? Teachability? Servanthood? Emotional Intelligence?

Self-responsibility? Collaboration? Self-discipline? Compassion? Humility?

Can any of these be taught? How about just caring about other people?  Can you train that?

So far we have only talked about some of the qualities of a Leader, but what about some of the qualities that we look for in good team players? What about Solution oriented? Can any of us teach another to be Dependable? We can tell them what we mean when we say that word, however the desire to be dependable comes from within. Can you really train someone to communicate openly and honestly? How about to be an active listener? I’m sure you can tell them what you mean, however none of us can give someone the interest, or make them care enough to listen to understand.

This is why LinkedIn and the internet is filled with blog posts and articles reminding us again and again of how Leaders should act. If we could easily learn these qualities we would have it all down by now. I believe that you can name any quality you desire, and find it impossible to train.

However we can train pretty much anything else to almost anyone you can name.   You send me the next person you see, and I can train them to be competent in any task associated with running a grocery store. Many of you could do the same in your area of experience. We can train tasks easily to anyone, and yet we hire for tasks and attempt to train for qualities.

So… why do we continue to spend so much money attempting to train these qualities to everyone, from our Leaders to our hourly team members? Hmmm…

Think about what makes people successful… is it IQ? Is it because they have a PhD? Is it because they know the most about the product/department/what ever you name? No… the most successful people are the ones who know how to build trust and relationships. Yes… you need machinists, chemists, web designers, programmers, etc… and imagine if all of them had the same qualifications AND were able to extend trust, develop strong relationships, were servant leaders, with focus, passion and self-responsibility… what would your workplace look like? What could you achieve?

To this end, team Leaders should be able to do their own hiring, and I’ll tell you why. Hiring for qualities is not easy. Even when trained and experienced, it can still be difficult to be sure of hiring the right people… we all make mistakes. To reduce the probability of mistakes, those doing the hiring must be connected to the outcome. That is, if I hire for my team, I am responsible for the success or failure of that person. As a Leader, it is my job to see that they are successful… if they fail it is my failing.

What are the benefits of team Leaders hiring their own?

  • If the team Leader can do their own hiring they are invested in the success of the team member.
  • Team Leaders can indoctrinate (onboard if you prefer) team members better than anyone else… no one other than the team Leader can impress, indoctrinate, and provide that all important initial guidance and expectations.
  • Team Leaders can start building relationships with their team members the day they make the decision to hire them.
  • No one knows the needs of the team like the team Leader.
  • No one has a more intimate knowledge of what actions describe these qualities than team Leaders.
  • It takes an intimate knowledge of these actions to ask the right questions in order to identify these qualities.

This is why it’s better if team Leaders are trained to hire for qualities, and then allowed to hire for their own teams. Anyone and everyone who is involved in hiring needs to be untrained, and then retrained in the ways of the force… no wait… how to hire for qualities instead of skills. At least that’s my experience… a bit of a rant, I know…

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Developing Your Future Leaders Part 4… How to Spot Leadership Qualities in Your Team Members

How to Spot Leadership Qualities in Your Team Members

We’ve talked a lot about what to do when we see Leadership potential in our team members, however I don’t know that we’ve really spent any time on just how to spot that potential… or what exactly we are looking for. So…

In John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader he listed many of the qualities we will be looking for. We talked all about them here. I also talked about his 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player. If you haven’t read either book, you should, as he gives a much better description of each, as well as examples to make each one understandable to most anyone.

You’ll remember that when hiring, we are looking for how our applicant sees himself or herself, the world, and how they fit into their world. We are not very worried about skills or qualifications when we are hiring for hourly jobs. If you need specific skills, qualifications, or certifications for your job, use that list to weed out the applicants without the needed skills, and then use the method described starting here. You still need to hire people based on how they see the world if you are going to build a high functioning team.

Hiring in this manner has a second benefit, in that it helps us identify Leadership qualities in our applicants. Those qualities may be something that our applicant is aware of and trying to develop, or they may be lying dormant, waiting to be recognized. So let’s talk about exactly what that means…

Whether we are interviewing an applicant, or developing relationships with current team members, we are asking the same types of questions. If we have specific skills or qualifications that we need, we have already weeded out those without them. So we are only asking questions that allow us to assess how this person sees themselves and the world. Do they posses the qualities of a Leader?

Let’s use “trust” as an example. Can you train someone to trust? Do you think that you can find someone who does not instinctively trust others, and find a way to get them to start extending trust? You cannot! None of us can do that. And yet trust is perhaps the most powerful influencer there is. You cannot name one successful Leader who has not been able to extend trust. We simply cannot do anything alone… we must trust others if we are to achieve our goals.

You can take almost any team member you have, and start building a relationship with them. Get to know them, show them that you are human by sharing your faults and mistakes. Find out about their lives, and what goals they have for themselves. Over the course of these conversations you will build a relationship, which will gain you some level of influence over your team member. If you then actively help them achieve their goals, so that they really understand that you care about them, you will achieve a higher level of influence. If however, at the very beginning, you state that you care about them, value them, are happy to have them on the team, and extend trust, you will gain so much more influence almost immediately.

You can extend trust by allowing them the freedom to decide how to achieve the results you desire; by giving them responsibility for ordering something; or by asking them to be responsible for some other task. You are responsible for providing them with the tools and training needed. You can, and should follow-up to be sure that they are achieving the desired outcome, and you should be there to help them when they need help.

Our job as Leaders is to gain influence over others in order to achieve the team goals. There is no quicker way to gain influence, or a stronger bond than by extending trust. And we cannot train someone to trust. Either it is there, inside them, or it is not. They can develop that quality if they choose, and it is no easy task.

As we talked about in the hiring series, we need to understand that it’s pretty normal for applicants to think they should tell us what we want to hear. However that doesn’t do either of us any good at all. If we fail to see that this is what they are doing, we will end up putting them into a role under false pretenses, and where they are likely to fail. Not a good outcome for anyone. So… it’s up to us to spend some time getting the applicant or team member relaxed and comfortable. You are the Leader, so this is up to you. You are in charge of speaking in a manner that will allow the person you are communicating with to let go of any ‘script’ or prepared thoughts, and just talk to you honestly.

As I’ve stated before, there is absolutely no need for any of this to be adversarial. You should not be showing anyone who is boss, or exerting your authority. Speak to them as if you just met them at a family picnic, and you are interested in getting to know all about them. We need them to talk to us honestly and openly. We can use our own faults and mistakes to show our humanity, and help them to talk about their own. We aren’t necessarily looking for their faults… we all have plenty of them. We are looking for actions, and attitudes that describe qualities. That might be a little confusing…

This time, let’s use self-responsible as an example of a quality we are looking for. We can probably agree that this is a quality we find in almost every Leader, right?! OK, so we will look for this quality in our team members. So how would we define ‘self-responsible’? We might state that self-responsibility is acknowledging that you, through your thinking, feeling, and behaving, are in control of how you experience life.  That’s fine, and how would you tell a team member how they might act, if they wanted to show that they were self-responsible? That first definition doesn’t work anymore, does it?

Now we have to come up with some actions that show ‘self-responsibility’, so we can look for them. Literally, self-responsible means not blaming other people or circumstances for anything. So when we have team members who accept, or better yet, volunteer responsibility when something goes sideways, we are witnessing self-responsibility. We also look for people who reach out to others to build relationships… they take responsibility for those relationships. We see it when people accept responsibility for their feelings. We see it when people ask for help when they need it, and before they get in too deep. My own personal take will also add people who fully accept a job, role, or task as if they owned the company. Those people will do their best without having to be told to; they will find new, more efficient ways to get things done; they will ask if they can change how things are done to save money or time; and they will keep you in the loop, because they are responsible for your relationship.

Does that make more sense? Those are the actions we are looking for when we talk to our applicants and team members. For each quality, we look for actions that describe that quality.

I don’t think it’s rocket science, and it does take some practice. Most of us have been trained to look for skills and qualifications, and it can be tough to stop doing what we’ve been doing for so long. And yet these qualities are the only things that are of any real importance. So… with practice, we can look for, and see the actions, and the traits that show the beginnings of Leadership in each of our team members.

Next time we can look at qualities other than self-responsibility, and see if we can come up with some actions or traits for each of them.

Oh… and if you like my blog, please ‘like’ my Facebook page. The button is just up there at the top right. I dare you to click it!

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