How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the tag “Indoctrination”

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!


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.

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!

How To Hire Hourly Team Members Part 16… The Right Way to Welcome Your New Hire onto the Team

So… now where are we?  Oh yes… We have our Leadership team on the same page about what is actually happening on our team, what we need to change, and who is responsible for what, right?  Right!  They should also be pretty amped up if you did it right.  You listened to them tell you what was happening on their shifts without judging them (perhaps for the first time?  Be honest… it’s a good thing!)  You did more than just allow them to participate in coming up with goals for the team, you made sure they were all participating, right?  Great!  You also made sure that they know how you feel about them… how much you appreciate them, trust them, etc… right?  Ok… fix whatever you need to fix and I won’t tell anyone.   It’s up to you to get this right if you actually want to make any real positive changes on this team of yours.  No one is going to hold your hand and walk you through it, nor is anyone going to catch your mistakes and make you go back and fix them… unless you succeeded in finding a good mentor and are sharing all of this with them.  That would be super!

If you have yet to find the right mentor, keep working at it.  I should mention again that the right mentor is someone who thinks differently than you do.  Someone that pretty much everyone seems to like and respect.  Someone who is not your friend already… they will not be likely to give you honest, in your face feedback about what you are doing wrong.  It’s a little like being in school… there was always the easy teacher, maybe a few others who were OK, and then there was at least one who had a reputation for being really tough… gave the hardest tests, and expected the most out of their students.  Remember?  That’s the person you want to ask to be your mentor.  You want the best… only the best can teach you how to be the best.  So put away your fears and find the best leader… the person you think might be toughest on you since you don’t agree with them about much, and ask them to help you develop your leadership skills.  Do it today.  Now.  There is little that you can argue is more important for your career and long term success.  Now.

We also have our newest hire who, if you did it right, will be full of spit and vinegar, and excited to play an important role on your team.  Now for an important question… how long do you think that great attitude and energy they are bringing with them will last if you just throw them to the wolves (so to speak)?  How long until they work with several team members who want everything to stay just the way it is?  How long will it take, when they show up and find out that your workplace is not so much as you described it, for them to lose that positive energy, and settle into being a mediocre worker?  “This is just like the last place I worked”… I can hear them now.

You cannot allow that to happen.  But what can you do?  Well… this is what.

You will prepare the stage for them before their arrival.  Remember that you included one or two of your best team members, the clone worthy ones and your future apprentices, to your Leadership team building meetings?  You did that right?  Good!  Now that pays off.  You will already have assigned one or both of these people to train your new hires and continue the indoctrination.  We keep up their energy, and keep them excited.  As we hire more great people they will help the team gain some positive momentum, and only if we keep on top of it.  So…

You will welcome them on their first day.  You will do it.  Anyone else can be there, and you will welcome each new hire.  You are their team Leader.  You are in charge.  You will be there for their reviews.  You have already indoctrinated them, and since you are the one who recognized their potential and energized them, only you have the power to keep them moving along the right path.  Your workplace is filled with people who can derail your new hire, and only you can keep them on track and maintain their momentum.

You introduce them to the person who will be training them, and your new hire will spend their shift working with, talking to, taking breaks with, eating with, and ending their shift with their trainer.  You can be in the mix, as can your trusted apprentices.  You will do this for the first week or two.  Yes go ahead… I can hear it already… how you can’t afford to do that; how you need them to be working on their own; how you can’t have 2 people doing one job for that long; that’s not how we do training here; blah blah blah…  So let’s go over this again.  Are you happy with the current culture in your workplace?  Are you happy with the quality of your current team members?  Are you achieving your goals at work?  Are you developing your own leaders, and are you seen by others are the person to go to when they want a great person for their team?

If yes… That’s great!  Good for you!  I would encourage you to take a look around and find the struggling leader who needs your help… mentor them, write a book, start a blog… so many people need your help!

If not, this is what you need to do to change your team and achieve your goals.  It will not be easy.  If you want results that are different from those you have been getting you will need to do things differently.  You need to invest time and energy not only in hiring the best people, but also training them, mentoring them, praising them, and all of the other things we’ve talked about so far.

This will come up again.  How badly do you want to achieve your goals?  How badly do you want that high functioning team?  Then shut up and let’s get to work.

You will maintain a close relationship with this and every new hire for the foreseeable future.  These are your future apprentices and Leaders.  You will make mistakes, and drop the ball… that’s expected.  And… you will pick it right back up and get back to work.  You cannot allow your new hires to be indoctrinated by those team members you would love to see off your team.  And that is exactly what will happen if you allow it.

This is a key… Whatever you allow, you choose!  You read that right.  If you allow it to happen, it is the same as if you chose it.  Chew on that, and take a good hard look at your workplace.

Choose to accept nothing but the best from your new hires.  Choose to invest your time and energy into keeping them excited about working with you, and I guarantee you will be very happy with the dividends you reap.

Next time we’ll talk about (maybe we should have already talked about it) the meeting you will have with your entire team.  It’s time to share your vision and your new expectations.

Oh… and if you like the blog please like my facebook page.  Thank you!

I also wanted to share an article I read today…  I read a huge number of leadership articles and blogs, however I only share the ones that pretty much completely agree with.  So there!

10 Things Great Bosses Do

Oh… and this one too…

Use “Shared Vision” to Get Better Performance With Less Effort

How to Hire Hourly Team Members part 15… Don’t Onboard… Indoctrinate!

OK… so look. Here’s what let’s do. I’m kind of caught in the middle of finishing up our hiring process and the beginning of how to create a leadership team (which is necessary to keep these great hires and turn our team into a leadership development machine), so… I’ll take a very short time (hopefully just one post) to go over the process of indoctrinating our new hire, and then get back to building our team. K? K.

As homework, you should start reading one of two books… your choice.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie or
Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell.

We need to start developing the foundations of your Leadership. Now…

We’ve talked about the need to personally indoctrinate our new team members, and I know what some (many? ALL?) of you are thinking. You are thinking WHAT? Steve, I have way too many important things to do. I cannot sit here for what now, a total of 2 hours talking to this one hire! That’s crazy! I’ll just have one of my apprentices do it, and it won’t take more than 10, maybe 20 minutes. So I’ll say you can certainly do that. And… you might as well put all of your energy into meditation and other ways to accept what is, because nothing is going to change on your team. This new hire will join the ranks and your team will continue along it’s current trajectory. If everything is going exactly the way you want it to, and you are achieving all of your goals, you certainly don’t need me telling you what you need to change.

On the of chance you are not achieving all of your goals, and your team is not as high functioning as you’d like, then please read on…

We need to start where we are. You may have inherited this team, you may have done your best to build it from scratch, and it really doesn’t matter… You’ve done the best you could with the tools you had. So we probably have a mixed team. If you graded each team member from 1 to 10 (10 always being best) and graphed the results it would likely look like a parabola. A couple of great people, a lot of mediocre people, and a few you really regret hiring… if you could you would wish them into the corn field! Wishing won’t change anything, so we have to work with what we have.

We cannot just throw our new, better than average hire, that we’ve spent so much time and energy on, to the wolves so to speak, and hope they help us turn the team around. It simply does not work that way. It’s kind of like driving up a long steep grade in a vehicle with an underpowered engine. You have to stay on it if you want to keep up a reasonable speed and reach the top.

So… we will indoctrinate our new hire for many reasons. We need to get them excited about working on our team (we’re excited about the team and where it’s going, right!?). We also need to set expectations for them from the start. In many companies there is a delay between hiring and any ‘orientation’ and training, and you may not even be involved with either one (this will make it harder, and not impossible to achieve greatness). So… it’s even more important that you get your new hire on board knowing how you define a good job; your idea of when a good team member shows up to work; your idea of why a person might call out, and how often is too often; your idea of how a person behaves when part of a team at work (this is going to be a large part of our talk, so I’ll continue it below); your interest in their feedback on workplace safety, the tasks of the job, and even how this new team member sees your impact as a leader on the morale of the team; reiterate their goals (long and short team) and talk about how you are going to help them achieve those goals (and you actually have to do it!); how other team members have moved up on the team and have earned their way into different roles, with more responsibility and money (you may not be able to do this yet, and you will); how they will be judged during a review; how their job, no matter what job it is, is a very important part of the success of the team (if this job had no impact on the success of the team you would not be paying someone to do it!); how the team’s goals came to be, and why we are all excited about them; how much you are depending on them, and how happy you are to have them on the team!

What you are doing is pretending to be (unless you are in fact) Tony Robbins… we need to excite and invigorate our new hire. We want them so happy to have found a workplace and Leader who cares about them and their goals, who values them, who understands what they have to offer, who knows they can and will succeed, and have them filled with that excitement and energy when they come back to start working.

Another key… To have a high functioning team every team member needs to feel that they are an important part of the team, and it’s your job as the leader to see that they believe it. Now back to it…

As team leaders (owners, managers, however you define your role), you probably feel that you take more ownership than anyone else. You likely feel that you care more, put in more energy, work harder, are more vested (and perhaps literally invested), and are faster at many tasks, and there are probably many more you can add… than anyone else. So… you are the only one who can infect our new hire with your energy, interest, and expectations for the team. Please do not make the mistake of leaving this all-important role to a team member, apprentice, or worse yet someone who doesn’t even work on your team (like an HR team member). Have your apprentices there to learn, and you must deliver the message. Otherwise the message will be uninspired, get watered down, and fail to have the impact we need.

From this moment forward you will be the inspiration for all of the good things that will be happening on your team. You will have to stay positive 100% of the time at work. You CANNOT bitch or complain to anyone at work! So if you do not currently have someone (probably not your spouse or partner at home) to talk to about your frustrations and issues at work, get one now. It can be a trusted peer, however they should probably not work along side you (you will end up talking about something negative at work), a professional coach, or a friend with lots of time on their hands. Work on this today.

Oh… and if you like the blog please like my facebook page.  Thank you!

I want to include a link to an HBR article Why Good Managers are So Rare. We will end up talking about the points made here later on, and for now it’s good food for thought.

How to Hire Hourly Team Members part 14… The Initial On Boarding, or Better Yet, Indoctrinating

Congratulations! We’re sitting here with our apprentice(s) and our applicant, or rather our new hire, and… now what?

Now is make or break time. Even when a person has answered our questions to our satisfaction there is no guarantee they will be great team members. It just means that they have necessary qualities to enable them to be great. It’s up to us as Leaders to bring out the greatness within them. Our first step, before we leave the table, is to give our new team member their first indoctrination. I use the word ‘indoctrination’ on purpose, because it doesn’t just mean introduction, or welcome. Synonyms include to train, brainwash, and programming… “to cause to believe something”.

Let me go back a few steps here and ask some questions of you. Are you perfectly happy with the performance of your present team? Do you have only one or two people on your team who are not up to your standards? Or is it the other way around? Do you sometimes hire great people only to see them leave before very long? Do you want to change the culture of your team? Are you ready and willing to do whatever it takes to have a high performing team, where new leaders are trained? Then we’ve got some work to do.

IT ALL STARTS WITH YOU!! And you must change the way you run the team. Starting right now!

Every negative thing that happens from this point forward is your fault. You will accept the blame for everything that goes wrong.

Every positive thing that happens from this point forward happened because of the actions of a team member, or the team as a whole. You will give away the credit for everything that goes right.

There are three things that can happen to this new hire sitting in front of you.

You will allow the current team to train and indoctrinate them, and I guarantee that the person you just spent so much time and effort hiring will join the crowd and be another mediocre team member for you to manage.

You will allow the current team to train and indoctrinate them, and once they see what your mediocre team is like they will leave at the first opportunity.

OR… YOU will indoctrinate them. You will train them (or at least dictate how they will be trained, and then follow up very closely on their training. This will be different from your normal training routine). And you will check in with them daily at first, then several times a week. Why you ask? Whether you like it or not, your team has a culture. Either you spent a lot of time and energy building and cultivating that culture, not settling for anything other than what you wanted, or the culture developed while no one was looking. If you put any new hire, no matter how good, into a culture of mediocrity, you will end up just adding another mediocre person to your team. If you are not happy with your team, you have a culture that needs to be changed. It’s a long and arduous process, and one that pays incredible dividends if you only see it through.

So… back to our new hire. We are going to sit here for another 30 to 60 minutes talking to them… Indoctrinating them. You AND your apprentices have to speak as one voice from this moment on. If there is a change in expectations from one shift to another (perhaps because a different person is in charge that day or shift) the job of changing your culture and rebuilding your team will be twice as hard. I would even go so far as to say if you have an assistant/associate/supervisor that is not on board with the everything you want to do and the new direction you want to go, you are better off getting that person off your team as soon as possible, and before expending a ton of time and energy in trying to change the culture of your team. My experience is they will minimally hold you back, by giving inconsistent expectations and rewards, and at worst they will undermine your efforts at every turn.

Do yourself a favor and make sure that everyone who will be setting the example, holding people accountable, setting expectations, and driving the team towards your goals is fully committed.

Crap… we’re off on a tangent, and it’s a necessary one, so I’ll carry on.

If you have read this far, and are really committed to hiring the best people, keeping them, and developing a high functioning team, then you need to not only make a commitment to yourself, but also include the high performing and trusted people you will be taking with you.

In order to get a real commitment from your apprentices (I think from now on I’ll just use “apprentices” to cover the people who will be leading shifts when you are not there, like shift leaders, associates, and assistants), you will need to involve them in the process of deciding what you are going to change, as well as how you are going to achieve said change. I would even suggest including your very best team members (only one or two), in particular if you use these great team members to train your new hires. People need to be part of a process like this in order to really buy into it. Their feelings, fears, ideas, and goals need to be heard. And perhaps most importantly, they need to really feel like they were heard (that’s your job.). Make sure that everyone contributes something, and has their opinions listened to. Otherwise your efforts will fail. This is a key to being a Leader.

Ok, so we’ll have what will most likely be more than one meeting with our apprentices, and first agree on our reality. If we don’t agree on what is actually happening we will never agree on what needs to change. You, as the Leader will probably want to make sure that everyone agrees with much of what you think is happening, and… just because you are the Leader DOES NOT mean you are the smartest, the best anything, or even the natural leader in the group. It just means you are in charge. Listen and you just might learn a thing or two…

Agreeing on our reality is akin to knowing where we are standing right now, while making our way through the woods with only a map and compass. If we don’t know exactly where we are right now it doesn’t matter whether or not we can use a map and compass to head in a certain direction. We’ll be heading somewhere… and will it be where we wanted to go?

So everyone on our staff needs to agree how things are. Are we at the needed level of quality with what we are producing? What level of customer service do we provide? Do we have workers we simply must get off the team (bad workers can infect those around them and keep you from making positive changes)? Are there processes or practices that are not working for us? What normal workplace standards like absenteeism, and tardiness are we expecting and allowing our workers to follow? Are the standards consistent from shift to shift? If you live in the same world in which I live, I would bet not. We must know where we are in order to move forward together. Again, it may take more than one meeting. This is neither the time nor place to blame, or call anyone out. In order to have an accurate picture of what is actually happening you need honest answers from your team. If you attach a negative consequence to ANY answer you get during this process you will guarantee that you will not get the true, whole story, and therefore will not have an accurate picture of what is happening.

In my experience I found that I had supervisors and assistants who were not following my instructions or holding the team to my expectations. The blame for this however, did not lay with them… the fault was mine. After thinking about it and being honest with myself, I let them both down (the whole team in the long run). I did not follow up with them enough. I didn’t work with them enough. I was asking them to have difficult conversations, and I failed to realize how scary and difficult these could be at first. I did not give them the tools they needed, nor did I train them correctly to use those tools. So… I had to take a step back and work with these apprentices to give them the means to accomplish our goals. I can only imagine that you will face the same reality. We’ve made assumptions about the skill set and qualities of our apprentices, and now we need to reassess those assumptions, and get it right from now on.

And… this is a key…If we believe we have the right people working with us, if we believe they are doing the best they can, and they are still not able to achieve our goals or meet our expectations, then either our expectations are too high, or something is getting in the way. Either they don’t have the skills or tools we thought they had, or something else in keeping them from meeting our goals. To fix it we need to get to root of the problem, and to do that we need our team to be honest with us. An overbearing, angry, emotional, threatening, or in any way scary boss persona will not get us the honest answers we need.

If you are not developing the kind of relationships at work that build trust, respect, and loyalty, then you should stop reading right now and make a plan to do some personal work. Get a recommendation for a therapist, a job/life/leadership coach… do something to discover the reality of where you are personally, and then you can start moving in a positive direction with the people around you.

Oh… and if you like the blog please like my facebook page.  Thank you!

Before I go I also wanted to link to this article about conflict at work. I’ve found that team members challenging each other, including the leadership team, makes for a much more creative and successful team. Enjoy! http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2014/03/11/conflict-collaboration-work/?iid=SF_F_River

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