Leaderisticality

How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the tag “Hiring hourly”

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!

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Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Indoctrination

Navy seals What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 4 of a series… So here we are in part 4 of this synopsis of my 70 or so post series, walking through hiring the best hourly team members, indoctrinating them onto our team, choosing the right apprentices, and changing the culture of our team from the one that allowed us to be average to one that will not allow average people to remain on the team.  The original posts can be found here starting with hiring… We’ve talked about the importance of hiring for qualities rather than skills (remember, we are hiring hourly team members, from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leaders) since we can train almost anyone pretty much any skills that might be needed, however we cannot teach qualities…   Qualities are the things that make our best people “clone worthy”. We’ve also talked about using the “ketchup question” when hiring for customer service, and the need to determine the default customer service level of your applicant. If you haven’t already, you can read part 1part 2, and part 3. So… we’ve interviewed our applicant by making them comfortable, and getting to know them through an in depth conversation, where we asked questions to find the behaviors that describe the Leadership qualities we are hiring for. And, we’ve decided to hire the person siting in front of us. Now what?  Well… In order to build a truly great team, we cannot allow our great new hire to simply adapt to the team as it stands.  We will simply end up with yet another mediocre team member. First step: Before I leave the room I will spend another 45 to 60 minutes with my new hire.  Yup… another hour to make sure that I get them off on the right foot invested now will pay off in more ways than you will believe. Remember, great does not happen by accident.  We are not satisfied with the standards of behavior, or the culture of our current team (if you are, good for you!  Keep up the great work!), and it is going to take hard work and tough decisions in order to affect the change that needs to happen.  You can do this, and you need to start today… right here and right now. You will invest the time and energy to get this new hire fired up.  You need them to come onto your team with a full understanding of the new standards you will be holding the team to.  You need to indoctrinate them with your excitement about what the team is going to be like, how excited you are to have them on your team, the important role they will play in achieving the goals of the team, and how interested you are in helping them achieve their goals (you just got done talking to them for an hour… you better be able to talk in depth about their goals!). Some people will state that they don’t like the word indoctrinate… and that’s OK.  You don’t have to use that word if it makes you feel uncomfortable.  And… Think of the best, strongest, and highest performing teams you can.  Perhaps the Navy Seals come to mind?  I grew up in the town that borders West Point… that comes to my mind (and where I hope our 17 year old will go)…  Now, do those teams welcome and train their newest team members?  Is there coffee, nice music playing in the background while we talk about how we like our team members to treat each other with the same respect you would like to be shown?   Not so much… What kind of process is it? I’ll give you a hint… it’s indoctrination.  Before anyone is brought onto the team they are told that it will be a difficult job, that it will be hard work, that you’re your teammates will be committed to excellence, and that you will be expected to uphold the highest standards of behavior and performance. I don’t believe that there is any way to maintain that level of performance without some form of indoctrination.  You don’t have to agree, and has what you’ve been doing gotten you a great team?  Is there a reason you can’t have a team that functions at an incredibly high level?  This process of hiring for qualities and indoctrinating every one of my new hires worked wonderfully for me, and that’s why I’m suggesting you take a chance and go for great! Whatever you choose to call it, if you want to achieve and maintain a very high level of performance, you will have to instill your new hire with the values and beliefs of your team.  Make sure they understand how much you value having them on the team, and that you are looking forward to them using their experience and knowledge to help the team improve everything it does. This is not something that you can delegate, nor can it be left to someone who does not even work on your team.  You, and only you (because you are the team Leader) can instill your new hires with your excitement about the future of the team, your passion for the success of the team, the rewards that come from achieving the goals of the team, and what the future can/will hold for your new hire.  If you feel you have found a great addition to the team, make sure they really understand how excited you are about having them on the team, and how they will be a key player in helping the team achieve it’s goals. If you do this right, your new hire will come in for his or her first day of work with more motivation that anyone currently on your team.  And as long as you continue to stay involved in their work and development, you can help them maintain that level of engagement. I believe that team member engagement is all about our relationship with the person to whom we report.  So you are starting to build that strong, trusting relationship the day you decide to hire them! Since we are transparent, we make sure our new hire understands that we are a team in transition. That means they might work with team members who are not upholding the expectations we just discussed, or acting in a manor consistent with the culture we described, and that does not mean it is OK for our new hire to do anything other than meet or exceed those expectations. We will explain that we are working on changing/improving the culture of the team, that we have some team members who may not be a good fit on this team, and that we are working hard to change their behavior of get then off the team. It is imperative that we are honest and transparent from our very first encounter with each and every great new hire.  We may not have always been as honest and transparent as we should have been in the past, and the only way to develop a truly great team is by making a commitment to honestly and transparency moving forward. I wrote a post about how and why I indoctrinate (you can read it here) and your indoctrination process should be personal, and fit your workplace.  I honed this process hiring and developing great teams for Whole Foods Market… a fast paced retail environment where standards are high and so are customer expectations.  You should indoctrinate your new hires with your ideals, your team’s values, and your hopes for their future.  Tell them everything you would want to hear if you had made it onto a team that had very high standards, and happy to have you join them. That’s probably long enough for today (too long by many standards), and I feel that too often posts and articles are too short to effectively help us really understand how to achieve the results talked about in the post.  So… I write until I feel I’ve said enough to actually help you.  I know this will mean some people won’t read them, and that’s OK. In part 5 we’ll talk about the next steps in building a great team, like the next steps in our new hire’s work life, moving those who are holding the team back off the team, and how to change the culture of our team.

Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Part 3

huge fossil shark tooth

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 3 of a series…

So here we are in part 3 of this synopsis of my 70 or so post series, walking through hiring the best hourly team members, indoctrinating them onto our team, choosing the right apprentices, and changing the culture of our team from the one that allowed us to be average to one that will not allow average people to remain on the team. The original posts can be found here starting with hiring…

We’ve talked about the importance of hiring for qualities rather than skills (remember, we are hiring hourly team members, from no experience/entry-level to Store Team Leaders) since we can almost anyone pretty much any skills that might be needed, however we cannot teach qualities…   If you are interested you can read part 1 and part 2.

Back to it…

You will have to determine what, if any, qualities are particularly important in your workplace. As I stated in the earlier, I believe that teachability (the ability to hear feedback and change our behavior accordingly), some level of self-awareness, self-responsibility, honesty, and some level of emotional intelligence are perhaps the most important qualities when hiring hourly team members, and I will not hire anyone in which I can’t find some level of development.

Teachability because they will be coachable, and able to hear feedback.

Self-awareness because if we are not aware of our own character, desires, and everything else that is going on within us, we end up feeling that life happens to us, rather than seeing much of what happens as a consequence of our choices.

Self-responsibility because if we don’t own our actions and behaviors, we end up blaming everything and everyone else for our problems. This goes hand in hand with self-awareness.

Honesty because, well we don’t want to hire anyone who is not honest or lacks character. We need them to do the right thing even when no one is looking.

Emotional intelligence because I don’t believe we can develop honest, authentic relationships unless we know what we are feeling. If we are not aware of our feelings, we can end up driven by our feelings… out of control.

I’ve already mentioned that every applicant I hire has to have a default standard of customer service that is at least as high as my own, because it’s next to impossible to get someone to consistently uphold a higher level of customer service than the level they believe is the right level, at least without constant supervision, and who has the time for that?

As I described earlier, and starting here over 3 posts on my blog, I’ve identified behaviors that describe the qualities I am looking for. Then during my conversation with the applicant, I concentrate on finding those behaviors. I’m sure you can come up with many more behaviors than the ones I listed… and then you just have to get your applicant comfortable and talking all about themselves. You keep listening for the behaviors that describe the qualities you need.

For customer service, I ask one question, and one question only. It is the ‘ketchup question’, and I talk about it at length here. I may need to do a video of it, because after teaching scores of people how to ask it, I’ve found that the delivery is incredibly important. Once you get it down, it is the only question you need to make sure your hires have a very high level of customer service. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have about the ‘ketchup question’ or any of this.

So… since this is a synopsis, I’ll skip ahead to the point where we’ve decided to hire our applicant because they answered the ‘ketchup question’ the way we wanted, and we are satisfied that they have developed the qualities we are looking for enough so that we feel confident we can help them continue to work on their Leadership qualities.

Next step, indoctrination. Yup… next time in part 4.

Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… It Takes A Carefully Planned And Ruthless Assault On “Good”

Assault on horseback

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 2 of a series…

So here we are back with part 2 of this series. We are starting with hiring hourly team members, everyone from no experience/entry level to Store Team Leaders. When hiring for this level we are hiring almost exclusively for Leadership qualities. This is because those qualities are the things that make people clone worthy, as opposed to skills. We can easily train for pretty much any skills needed, however we cannot train qualities. So let’s continue…

Before we get too far, we should talk for a minute about the actual interview. I’ve seen it happen enough times that want to state very clearly that the interview process is no place for us to ‘exert our authority’, make sure ‘they know who is in charge’, or work to make the applicant uncomfortable to see how they react. If you are doing these things you are doing it wrong, at least if you want to call yourself a Leader by any stretch of the imagination. Interviewing with this attitude is pretty much guaranteed to give you mediocre workers who will do what they are told to do, and little more. Mkay?

Hiring for qualities is a bit different from hiring for skills, as at least in my experience, the best way to determine what Leadership qualities our applicant has been developing is through conversation, rather than simply questions and answers… I find “tell me about a time…” much less useful than getting my applicant comfortable enough to tell me all about the things in her life that she is proud of, where she puts her energy, what kinds of things frustrate her, and what gets her into a ‘flow’ state, to name just a few. I believe that we all have Leadership qualities within us to one degree or another. The key is finding the people who have been developing these qualities throughout their lives.

I know that a large percentage of our applicants have been interviewed many times now, so a good number of them know just what we want to hear. If they are smart they probably have already thought about how to answer many of the questions they have heard before. This is another reason why I prefer the conversational approach… it doesn’t allow the applicants to stick with their ‘script’ or preformed answers.

I believe the best way to find Leadership qualities in others is to determine whether or not they show the behaviors that describe those qualities. Qualities, by their very nature can be difficult to pin down, however I think we could easily come up with a list of behaviors that describe each quality or trait. Read more about behaviors that describe Leadership qualities starting here.

For instance, I believe that the ability to hear and respond to feedback is on of the most important qualities a new hourly team member can have… In my experience it is perhaps the best indicator of future success, maybe because it means they are trainable, coachable, and humble. So… how will we determine whether or not our applicant has this quality?

I try to get them to tell me all about their experience of school, trying to get into college/grad school, involvement in sports, or any other way they may have received feedback. I don’t ask specific enough questions to allow them to fall back on any prepared answers. Since no one else ever asked them what they thought about their performance in that pick up game last weekend, how they responded to the feedback they got from their high school football coach, or the grade they got in that college class when they thought they deserved better, I generally get honest answers.

Any instance in our lives when we get feedback is fair game. What makes you think you are a good driver? On what do you base that opinion? Do you follow the advice of the personal trainer at the gym, or do you think you know better? What have you learned in your personal relationships? I can easily give many examples of when I have hurt the feelings of people in my life, and how I reacted to that feedback. Is that their problem? What’s my responsibility, if any? These are all roads that out applicant has never been down in an interview, so we are likely to have an honest and genuine conversation.

I know you are all screaming at me… how about feedback from another job? Of course this is appropriate, and can be very useful. However, remember that our applicant has been asked about this many times already, so again, if they are smart they have learned what to say about feedback from work. I also feel that my personal experience has some bearing here. I’ve worked for, and with, some really poor bosses, and at work places where honest feedback was not the rule. There are a lot of people out there who have been forced into the bottom, middle, or top third simply because that’s the way the company did things, so bosses had to come up with some reasons for assigning a person to this rung. Because of the way this is set up, the feedback that many people get at work is often not honest feedback, with the intention of helping that person learn and grow. If it happened to me, it happened to a lot of other people, so I feel we have to take feedback from past jobs with a grain of salt.

What about another quality before we call it a day? How about self-responsibility? Since we are already involved in a friendly, casual conversation with our applicant, we probably already have some example of something that didn’t go as planned. So we just need to find out a little more about the outcome… who was at fault? Did our applicant have any part to play? What about that feedback you got from your guidance counselor/coach/parents/friends/boss? What did you learn from that? How were you responsible for what happened?

Have you been late for work or some other appointment? What happened? I need to hear the applicant take responsibility… yes the train was late… not your fault. And… what, if anything did you do? Did you start taking an earlier train since we know trains will be late? Did you find alternatives, like friends you can call when the train is late? These are simple examples of self-responsible behaviors.

To spell it out, I need to hear that our applicant, at least at some point recently, heard feedback and understood that the other person’s experience of them is that person’s reality.   To be coachable, the applicant needs to have changed their behavior in response to that feedback. For self-responsibility, I need to believe that our applicant takes responsibility for the things that happen in their lives; that their choices determine what happens (not everything that happens of course) and that they are responsible for the choices they make. If I don’t hear these things, I’ll thank them for coming in and move onto my next applicant.

Self responsibility, teachability, honesty, some level of emotional intelligence, some level of self awareness, and feeling that quality work is it’s own reward are some of my make or break qualities. If I do not believe that my applicant is developing these qualities I will not hire them, no matter how skilled they might be. Remember, this is just a quick synopsis… you can find my whole 16 part series on hiring, with a lot more detail, starting here.

Wow… this takes so long to discuss doesn’t it? That has to be long enough (probably too long many will tell me) for today, and we’ll pick up next time with what to do once we decide to hire the person sitting in front of us. No… if we want great we cannot simply shake their hand and send them off to have another person take over. We need to indoctrinate them. Yes… I understand that many of you don’t like that word, and all of its connotations.   And… I don’t believe that we can get ‘great’ by using the same process (welcoming and training, the same onboarding that gave you the average team you have) you’ve been using. Great doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a planned assault on Good. Hey, that’s catchy… maybe I’ll use that for todays title huh?

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team? Part 1 of a series…

blue angels

A truly great team requires obsessively great hiring, a trusting, transparent Leader who strives to be a servant Leader, shared goals and values (best if developed by the team), a culture of ownership and responsibility, and a need for constant improvement.

I have been writing about hiring and training the best hourly team members, as well as how to change the team culture to enable the development of a truly great team on my blog for some time now. It’s been almost 100 posts in the making, and I imagine it can be daunting jumping into what is essentially a book on hiring and team development.

So… I thought we might shorten all of those posts into a much shorter series on hiring the best hourly team members; how and why to hire for Leadership qualities; honesty, trust and transparency as they relate to Leadership (servant Leadership in particular); developing team goals and values; developing/changing our team culture; and developing enough trust and ownership in that culture that will not only allow for constant improvement, but will demand it.

I’ve been hiring hourly team members, from entry level/no experience people to department Leaders and Store Team Leaders for 30 years now, and that is what I’m writing about. When hiring executives, or other jobs where specific job skills, talents, and/or a specific educational background is needed, weed out the applicants without these mandatory requirements, and then follow the steps I outline below. If you disagree, I’m sure you’ll let me know

Hiring is arguably the most important thing we do. You cannot have a great team without hiring great people. If you don’t have the team you want, the first thing you need to look at is your hiring. In fact, if you don’t have the team you want, and you have been doing the hiring, I’d suggest that you need to get someone who has a track record of hiring great people either take over your hiring, or retrain you on how to hire. Yes it’s hard to own up to that, and admit that we aren’t good at hiring. And… without great hiring we will never have that great team.

Too many of us have some notion that we cannot admit we are not that good at hiring… for some reason admitting that is a huge blow to our egos. We are all very good at one or two things, OK at most things, and not so good at other things. Build and play to your strengths, and find people who are very good at the jobs you are not so good at. You can read my whole series about how to hire hourly team members for Leadership qualities starting here on my blog. It will take some humility to fully accept that we need to unlearn our old ways of hiring in order to learn to hire for qualities. And the payoff is simply amazing!

You will be hiring for attitude/qualities first, and any needed skills second (again, I’m talking about hiring hourly team members). In fact, you should be hiring for every position based on Leadership qualities first, skills second. If you are serious about developing a great team, you will need the best Leaders. How many places have you worked where great Leaders are being developed? Any? So… you will have to grow your own, and hiring for Leadership qualities is the best way to start. The hourly team members you are hiring today will be your Leadership team in the near future.

Your should read my post about Hiring for what can’t be trained, and in a nutshell… Think about the people who you would love to clone… they are probably really good at the skills of their job, and is that what makes them clone worthy? Probably not… They are most likely clone worthy because of the qualities they possess… because of their attitude towards their work… that’s what makes them great! I can take the next person you see and train them how to do every task needed to run a grocery store (you can probably train the skills needed for your workplace), however I cannot train qualities. We cannot train anyone to be self aware, to show self responsibility, to have courage, to extend trust, or to be honest… those cannot be trained, so we must hire for them, and I dare to say, at least for hourly team members, almost only for them!

The best way I have found to determine which people have the qualities we are looking for is through a long and friendly conversation, with some specific questions used to draw out our own make or break qualities.

For instance, if your new hires will be dealing with your customers, it is imperative that their default level of customer service is at least as high as your expected level of service. I have found it next to impossible to get people to consistently provide a higher level of customer service than they believe is the correct level, without constant supervision, and no one has the time for that. So… we must hire people who already believe that our expected levels of service are the correct and only reasonable level of service. Then, and only then, can we count on them to consistently deliver that level of service without any supervision. I wrote a post specifically about hiring for customer service here.

Well, we knew this would be a series… next time we’ll start to talk about just how we discover whether or not our applicant has been developing the qualities we’re looking for.

Everybody Needs An Amber

Amber

I was thinking over the 5 or so years I spent as a Grocery Team Leader at Whole Foods Market, while talking to my honey who is currently a Produce Team Leader, and I realized that everyone needs an Amber.

OK… I’m sure you are wondering what in the world that means. I always did my best to hire those who were better than I was. Once in a while, and if you are lucky twice in a while, you might hire yourself an Amber (again, if you are lucky you might get a Jenna too). These people will come to you skilled in many areas of expertise, however they will not be arrogant. If you are able to accept that they are better than you, teach them what you know, and allow them to grow by making mistakes on your team, they will help you take your team to new heights. With the help of these people you can transform your people into the great team you have been working towards.

For many Leaders hiring someone who is better than they are can be scary. In many workplaces people feel insecure about their jobs, so you might think hiring someone better than you could put your job in jeopardy. You might think hiring someone who could be promoted past you will make you look bad. You might feel threatened having someone who is smarter, or a better Leader than you around.

The reality of your situation is this… you cannot accomplish your goals by yourself. You need your team to execute and get everything done. You need people to make you look good. Hiring people who are better than you is the best way to do this, and the best way to achieve great. So read my series on hiring, starting here, and hire yourself an Amber.

That means hiring some who:

Will challenge you.

In order to be the best Leaders we can be, we need to be challenged. Even those of us who drive ourselves to be the best, will have some areas that we don’t see as important… It’s in those areas that our Amber will challenge us. Your Amber will also push you to think about which things are important and which are not, as the choices you made to suit your circumstances in the past may not fit today’s needs. We all fall into ruts, and get nice and cozy in our comfort zones at one point or another… If you want to achieve great, you need someone to challenge you!

Is better than you.

As a Leader you must realize that you cannot know everything, or be the best at everything.   In fact, if you are the best at any of the tasks your team members are responsible for, you are not doing your job. So… the best way to get new ideas, and a creative spark is to bring in people who are better than you are.   Your Amber should have a different career path, a different background, and disagree with you a lot. Remember… we only learn from people who disagree with us.

Will keep you in line.

I can really only speak for myself, and I believe that we are all human. We all get caught up in our own issues, what’s going on at home, and at times we all make mistakes. Having an Amber means having someone who will tell you to ‘knock it off’, that you are allowing your anger at your spouse to influence your work decisions, or that sharing a larger portion of that bonus would be a better choice for the long run. If being a great Leader was easy, we would all be doing it… it’s not easy. We all have the ability to make decisions based on fear, selfishness, or jealousy. Having someone there to remind us of the right thing is invaluable…

Can take anything and everything off your plate.

Amber will come to you with many skills, and will be able to take on many responsibilities right away. You will have to teach your Amber some things, as her experience will not match yours, and there are some things that are unique to each workplace. Once this teaching is underway however, Amber will be able to take pretty much anything off of your plate, and then she will teach others to take things off her plate. This will allow you to spend time on your next level apprentices, and help them develop their Leadership qualities. It will allow you to feel free to take the time to hire only the best people, and never feeling as though you have to settle.

Will be coachable.

Hiring the right people mean they come to you willing and able to hear feedback. I have come to believe that the ability to hear and act on feedback is the most important forecaster of success. So hiring Amber does a few things for you. It allows Amber to move quickly into a position of taking on just about anything you need her to take, and at the same time this shows a great example for the rest of the team. Your other apprentices will have varying degrees of development, and seeing Amber partner with you, hearing feedback and adjusting her behavior accordingly, will be a great example for them.

Is good enough to coach you on a thing or two.

Since we are focused on hiring people who are better than we are, and with backgrounds and experience that is different from ours, the great people we are hiring will be able to teach us what they know. The key here of course is for us to be teachable as well. Too often Leaders become arrogant without realizing it. We come to think that we are better than the people we hire, and that they have nothing to teach us. Even if we, like many, are hiring only people we believe we are better than, they will still have a thing or two to teach us if we are able to learn. Amber will not only have things we can benefit from learning, but she will know how to teach others in a way that allows us to want to learn from her.

Is happy to teach others all they know.

Amber does not act from a place of fear. People like Amber know that sharing knowledge is the only way to achieve greatness, and they are happy to teach others. You will be seriously shocked at how much more training and coaching can happen when you add another ‘you’ into the mix. Amber will help to raise the level of commitment and engagement much sooner than you thought possible.

Challenges others.

Just having Amber on the team will challenge others to rise to her level. They will see that the bar you’ve been setting can indeed be reached, and even surpassed. The rest of the team will quickly see how much having a great team member like Amber benefits everyone, and will support her. Of course there will be those who are jealous, or fearful… you will have to do your best to help them understand that they have nothing to fear, and eventually they will get on board.

Raises the bar.

Amber is not satisfied with OK, or mediocre work. If you are lucky enough to have an Amber, you should push forward with wherever she wants to set the bar. By yourself you could only set the bar so high, however with the help of someone better than you, the bar can be set much higher.

The downside:

Yes… there are always downsides. However they are not big enough to make you think twice about hiring your Amber. You will be able to address and handle anything that comes up, and that upside will be worth the effort.

There will be conflict.

You will have team members who feel threatened by Amber. Even on a good team, you probably have a couple of team members who don’t really want things to change. You will have to stay alert and address these issues as soon as they come up. Do not allow them to fester!

Authority and Amber…

What authority does your Amber have? Sometimes an Amber will come along and you may not have the appropriate role open for her. Hire her anyway, at whatever rate and role you can. However, this will cause problems, since Amber is full of ideas and will be looking to make positive changes, while not having the title or ‘positional authority’ to make those changes happen. Have no fears, Amber will earn the respect and they will soon give her the authority she deserves, and in the mean time you may have to work extra hard to get everyone on board with what is happening.

You will eventually lose Amber.

Yes… people this good will not stay on your team forever. You will benefit by thinking of them as temporary help, to assist you in moving your team forward. Appreciate them and allow them as much leeway as you can, and they will help you raise the level of your whole team.

And I’ll end with this… if you are not comfortable hiring someone who is better than you are, talking to your coach or mentor about it might help. What would you tell a subordinate who had the chance to hire someone better than themselves, and came to you for advice? Yup… you’d tell them to jump at the chance. So hire yourself an Amber, and make the most of it.

How And Why I Indoctrinate Team Members…

When hiring, I indoctrinate every team member I hire right then and there. Meaning, if I spend an hour or more interviewing you, and then decide to hire you, we will spend at least another hour together. I use this time to set expectations, set standards, and make sure my new hire knows, really understands that I am happy to have them on the team, that I believe in them, that the are an important part of the success of the team, and that I have every faith in their success here.

While I make every effort to only hire the best people I can find, it’s rare to be able to start with a fresh team of new hires. We usually end up inheriting a team, and then adding our hires to it through attrition, transfers, or promotions. That means we have a mix of old and new team members. Hiring is important, and what we do with and for our new people after hiring them is just as important. An above average hire, if left to someone outside the team to ‘onboard’ is likely to become an average hire. We are probably working to change the culture of our team, and turn it from average to high performing, so starting our newest person with high expectations is key.

Once I decide to hire you, we’ll sit for 45 to 60 minutes and I will literally indoctrinate you with the standards and expectations of the team. Each and every team member I hired went through this same hour or more interview, and this hour indoctrination… this is a tough team to get on to, and you should feel proud! We do not accept just anyone onto our team.

I expect you to be adaptable… this is a high performing team, and we are able switch gears on a moments notice. We support our company and it’s goals, and sometimes that means our priorities change quickly and often. You will be able to listen to your supervisor, and even other team members, and take your cues from them.   I expect that you will be a creative force on the team, and that you will see with fresh eyes all of the things that we can do to improve. You will speak directly to your supervisor of me about your concerns with systems or people, and you will not gossip or speak badly about one team member to another. I’m looking forward to your help making this already great team even better!

You will be working closely with a variety of people, and you will all be working towards the common goals of the team. Working with others is great, and I know you will be able to add your own experience and way of thinking to the mix very soon. I expect that you will show commitment to the team, and each and every other person on the team. I did not choose you lightly, and I do not put my trust in others lightly… I trust you, and expect you will not let me down. You will need to be here, on time, every day. That is the only way we stay a top performing team… we all commit to each other.

With the fast pace of the team and the frequent changes in priorities, you will need to speak up if you are not 100% sure of what you should be doing or how to do it. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, however not speaking up is one of the few unacceptable things you can do. You are an important part of the team, starting your first day, and the questions you ask, the suggestions you offer, and the genuine, honest communication you display are a key part of your contribution.

I know that you will make mistakes… they are not just expected, they are demanded! If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough. Good enough does not cut it on this team, and once you are able to achieve the desired results the way you have been taught, I expect you will draw on your experience and your intelligence and find new, more efficient ways to help the team. Sometimes you will mess up, and this is important… I need to hear about your mistakes directly from you. I don’t want to hear about your mistakes from anyone else, so as soon as you mess up, you let me know. That way I can have your back, and we’re both in good shape when questioned. This is how you show you are trustworthy on this team.

As far as you are concerned, your goals come second to the team goals. Don’t worry about who get’s credit for what on this team. We all share in the credit, and your hard work will be noted, appreciated, and rewarded. We are an actual team, so if you see another team member who needs help, just jump right in and help them. I would rather hear you ask for forgiveness than wait and ask for permission! Sometimes things will go sideways, and that’s expected… just make sure I hear about it from you.

I hired you because I believe in you! I am happy to have you on the team, and I know you are going to be successful here. The best thing you can do is be the best worker on the team. You will show enthusiasm for your job; no matter what task you are asked to do. We are all committed to keeping our floor clean and safe, so if you see a mess, you own it. We all cooperate and sweep and mop the floor; we all pick up trash; we all empty trash cans; we all apologize for the mistakes of others to keep our customers happy; we all show a sense of urgency… that means work as if you owned the store! We all take pride in our work, and we leave every workspace better than we found it. And you know… if I didn’t think you were up for all of this we wouldn’t be having this conversation… I know you are fully capable of meeting every one of my expectations.

I also expect you to stay aware of what’s going on around the store. There are bulletin boards for important information, and I expect you to read them and stay up on what’s going on. When you come to work you will connect with the person leaving, and/or your supervisor to see where we are, what needs to be done, and what the priorities are today. You will remind yourself that we are all doing the very best we can, so when you arrive and things aren’t in perfect shape, you will know that the person before you did the very best they could. You will do the same. When you get to work, you will get right to work. We are not here to chat up the girls, get a date, or find a new friend. You might see people from other teams doing that, and that is not what we do. After break or lunch we get arrive on time, and get back to work. Other team members are relying on us, and we do not want to let them down. Remember, you are an important part of the team!

At the beginning of your shift, after speaking to the other team members, you will make a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you are not sure how to proceed, ask! You will make your plan based on that days priorities, and the advice of your supervisor. You may have to alter your plan depending on the changing needs of the department, so work hard to make as much progress on high priority items as you can.

You will do your best to remember all of the instructions you are given, and it’s OK to write them down. Remember, it’s expected that you will make mistakes… it’s not OK to repeat them. I trust you to use whatever tools you need in order to make your plan, remember your instructions, and get the job done. We try to make sure you have everything you need to do your job. In the short-term, I know you will do your best to improvise and do whatever you need to do to get the job done. Long term, you will speak up and let us know when you need tools or supplies. You are not expected to do without, and we need you to help be our eyes and ears.

You will, in time, experience problems or difficulties here. That too is expected. I know you realize that all problems are solvable, and you are the key to that. How you see problems will either allow you to see a solution, or see them as a wall. On this team, I expect you will find solutions. If you can fix it yourself, do it! If you cannot, I expect you to speak up about the problem and present your ideas for solutions. Talking about a problem without suggesting a solution is just complaining, and that is not allowed on this team.

What makes this a high performing team? It’s people like you! I only hire the best I can find, and I am very happy to have you on this team. I am very confident that you are going to make me very proud, and I’m looking forward to introducing you to the rest of the team. I know that you realize that you are responsible for your success on this team… that is will be your hard work, your intelligence, and you pushing yourself to achieve great things that will ultimately make you the success you will be here. It won’t be easy, and I know you will stick with it and earn the respect of the rest of the team.

My commitment to you? Well… I will be brutally honest with you.   I will do my best to give you 5 or more compliments for every constructive piece of feedback. And… I will give you a lot of feedback. We will meet and talk about once a month. I’m looking forward to helping you achieve your goals, and the only way to do that is if we keep in contact and build a strong relationship. You will get a scheduled performance review every 6 months; however there will be no surprises. In our conversations we will discuss the things you are doing well, along with the things you need to improve upon. I will help you in every way I can, and I feel I am as responsible as you are for your success or failure.

I guarantee that I will make mistakes, and… I will admit them. I will be transparent with you… there are no secrets on our team.   If you have an issue or problem with another team member, I will do my best to resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction. I do not play favorites, nor do I take sides. And equitable resolution is the only outcome I will work towards. I will back you up when you try something new and it goes sideways. I will give you all of the credit for your successes, and I will accept the blame for our failures. My overarching goal is the success of the team in achieving its goals, and secondly in helping each of you achieve your personal goals.

I will communicate positively and genuinely, and I will listen to understand. I will do my best to be humble, and show gratitude for everything we achieve, as well as for each of you and what you can teach me.

I also promise to fail here and there, and to let you down once in a while. I hope by then we have a strong enough relationship that you will accept me with my failings, and we will move forward as a team. Here is my cell #. If you have any questions, you will call me.

So… yeah… something like that. When that person goes home and talks about the new job, how are they likely to describe it? Are the going to be excited about it? Or is it probably just another crappy job? I’ve found that without this indoctrination, the latter is probable. With the indoctrination, people show up for work excited, happy, and enthusiastic… off to a good start. The rest is up to me in how I train them, and how I continue to build that relationship.

Have you done anything like this? What are your experiences?

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!

If you’re the Leader, You’re the Lid.

I first learned about this concept from John C. Maxwell, and have tried to teach it to my apprentices over the years.  This article states the problem, and how to move past it in very simple terms.

 

If you’re the Leader, You’re the Lid.

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