How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the tag “Transparency”

Changing The Culture Of Our Team…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thank you!


Accepting Feedback Part 2… How To Develop Trust With Your Team Members

We were talking about how to create an atmosphere where our team members feel free to give each other, and the Leader, constructive feedback; and where everyone, including the Leader, is able to hear that feedback (at least most of the time) as constructive and helpful.  So… yeah…  How do we get that going?

If we are not making mistakes, we are not trying enough new things, we are not experimenting enough, we are not stretching our skills, and we will never be able to stay ahead of the competition.  Mistakes are not just inevitable.  Mistakes are mandatory!

In too many workplaces team members are made to feel that they cannot admit any mistakes or failings, or that they need help with something.  I have managed several restaurants, retail stores, and a high-end organic grocery store.  In all of my roles I met or exceeded all KPI targets, although I was learning much of it as I went along.

In a couple of those jobs, if I talked to my district manager or team Leader and shared my difficulties, or told him that I wasn’t sure how to handle a situation, I was told perhaps I wasn’t ready for this job… maybe he made a mistake in hiring me.  How do you imagine that made me feel?  Do you imagine I asked that district manager any more questions?  Do you think I asked for his advice on anything?  Did I feel safe admitting when I made a mistake, or would I be better off trying to keep it quiet and fix it myself?  Is that a workplace where my opinion was welcome?  Did I feel valued there?

Managing one restaurant, and with one or two team leaders in the grocery chain, I was able to sit down with my team Leader or district manager, and tell them I wasn’t sure how to handle a situation, or that I had messed up my holiday order and what I had done to fix it.  They would welcome my questions, and help me figure out what to do, leaving me confident about my job and our relationship.  I felt good about asking for my team Leader’s opinion.  I felt safe admitting when I messed up as soon as it happened.  My opinion counted, and I felt like a valued part of the team.

Which of these workplaces was I happy to leave?  In which did I put more energy, and more of my own time?  In which did I form better relationships?  Do you think others shared my experiences at these workplaces?  Which companies do you think ran more efficiently, and experienced lower turnover?

OK fine… and how do we change the culture on our team to be more open to feedback smart guy?

Well, since we are the Leader, it starts, like everything else, with us of course.  We set the tone.  Our actions become the acceptable standard.  What we do becomes what the team does.  Have I stated that enough ways yet?

So… I addressed this issue a bit in an old post about Being Human.  Read that too.

There is a key here… when we share our failings with our team members we become both the team Leader and a human just like them.  We talk with our team members about how many times we did the schedule and failed to have enough coverage on a shift.  We tell them about the first few (perhaps more?) times we placed that order and either ran out of products, or had so many we didn’t know what to do with them.  We can tell our apprentices about our worst hire, and the terrible impact it had on the team.  Sharing our mistakes with our apprentices and our team members makes us one team, rather than separating you from the team.  If you don’t feel it’s right to share your mistakes, or you just can’t go through with it, please take this up with your therapist/coach/mentor.  This quality is indispensable.  Your team will never achieve greatness if you are not humble enough to be human amongst them.

Share your struggles and learning opportunities with your team members when it is appropriate.  When you are teaching someone how to schedule, share how you only scheduled one opener and had to cover the missing shifts yourself, and how many times you did that before finding a fix.  When you are teaching someone how and why to use pars when ordering you can share the mistakes that led you to decide that using pars was the only way to go.  When teaching your apprentices how to find the best new hires tell them about the times you hired your friends, and why you will never do that again.  Share your failings and mistakes when it’s relevant to what you are teaching.  In this way you reassure your team that you are aware of your mistakes, that you don’t think you know it all, and you realize that making mistakes is part of learning.  You also reassure them that you have spent time in their shoes, and have paid some dues.

You can use meetings as opportunities to tell your team how badly you messed up your first role as team Leader.  When talking about the changes you are making and assigning projects, be sure to state clearly that you expect mistakes, share an example of a mistake or two you made, and set the expectation that your team members will come to you with any problems they encounter.

Mistakes are going to happen. If you want to be the first one to hear about a mistake, and you want to hear about it directly from the team member who made the mistake, you MUST do whatever it takes to get them to trust you.  You can never punish anyone for coming to you with news of a mistake.  You can expect that team members will not continue to repeat mistakes, and you cannot in any way punish them for making or reporting mistakes!  If you do, even once, you will be working for a very long time to regain their trust.  This is something that you should take seriously… if you blow this it will take an unbelievably long time to fix.

One thing you can do, in this beginning stage of building your team, is set some standards and expectations around where your team members should be trying new things.  Since this is probably new for all of you, you should talk about the need to stay on track with your KPI’s, and agree on the ways people can take chances and try new systems, methods, or whatever else you agree on.  In this way you can meet your budgets and standards while still allowing your team some freedom in how things are done.

When your team members do come to you with questions, mistakes, and requests to be shown something for a second or third time, take a solution-oriented approach.  For a mistake, “don’t worry… we can fix that”, and then later you can talk about a plan to keep that mistake from repeating itself.  For a request for retraining “you know, I can’t tell you how many times I had to be shown to do that… it’s been a while, let’s figure it out together”, and then later talk about how they might set up a filing system for themselves, or a notepad, or send themselves emails and file them…  For all questions you need to make sure the team members believe that you are happy to answer their questions.  It’s OK to be in the middle of something right this minute, and be sure to get back to them as quickly as you can.  They need to know that you love to empower them and pass on your knowledge.  And… the only way they’ll believe it is if you do in fact love empowering them.  It all comes back to you doesn’t it?

Next time maybe we’ll talk about ideas to get the whole team feeling free to speak up to each other, offering ideas and solutions, rather than harsh criticism and condemnation.  Just you wait… you’re going to have the best team EVER!

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Building Our Leadership Skills Part 3… Leadership Qualities and The Secret to Difficult Conversations

Man, I got so far off topic last time talking about setting an intention that I had to change the title of the post!  Let’s try this again.

In our example, we are helping a new supervisor get past the initial fear of talking to a team member about a behavior that needs to change.  Sometimes it’s something small, like getting back from lunch or break on time (maybe small now, and could turn ugly if allowed to go on for too long).  Other times we need to talk to a team member about a subject that could easily bring out some defensiveness.  I’ve had to talk to someone about personal hygiene.  I mean really… you could tell when this person was standing 10 feet behind you without turning around.  I’ve talked to a team member about calling out for funerals… after his 5th grandmother died.  He knew he was caught in a lie, and still got very irate…  Sometimes we have to address performance issues with people who think they are great workers, and they don’t want to hear the truth… it can be tough to get through their armor.  Other times, it’s any issue with someone with whom we’ve allowed ourselves to become friends.  Sometimes it’s just the person… there are lot’s of people out there who simply do not want to hear any feedback at all.  To them all feedback is a personal attack, and they can fight back as if defending their very existence.

So, how then do we approach these conversations; much less have them go well?  Crap!  Here I am again.  I’m about to start talking about a much larger subject, like developing relationships with our team members, and really just started talking about how to get our new supervisor started off right.  Oh well…

The only good way to have these conversations go well is to start having them long before we need to.  What the hell does that mean?  It means this…

If we spend the time and energy developing relationships with our team members, these conversations are not difficult at all.  Well… the vast majority of them.

Leadership is all about developing relationships.  Without these relationships you will be unable to achieve your goals.  With the right relationships however, your team will turn into a high functioning team.  Your team members respect you, as well as show you surprising loyalty.  You will never want for Leadership.  You will supply others will Leaders.  Your job will be a secure as you want it to be.  Your team will make you look like a god among men.  Well… anyway…

So whether you are a new Leader, new to Leading this team, or want to change the culture of your existing team, you still need to follow pretty much the same path.  You will need to develop a relationship with every person on your team.  What does that look like, and how do I do that?  It’s not as hard as it sounds.  It all begins with you, and your relationship with yourself.  Damn it Steve… now you’re just talking in circles!     Calm down… we’ll get through it.

There are many traits or qualities that a Leader needs.  John C Maxwell, one of the best-known people in leadership circles these days , and an author I would highly recommend, would list them in his “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” as:

Character.  Charisma.  Commitment.  Communication.  Competence.  Courage.  Discernment.  Focus.  Generosity.  Initiative.  Listening.  Passion.  Positive Attitude.  Problem Solving.  Relationships.  Responsibility.  Security.  Self Discipline.  Servanthood.  Teachability.  Vision.

Since they are ‘indispensable’, we need all of them.  And… we are all unique and so each of us will be stronger in some than in others.  I have also come to believe that some are more important at different times for us as Leaders.  For our purposes here, we are going to talk about teachability, or humility, servanthood, security, listening skills, character, and communication skills.

We need to develop relationships, so what exactly does that mean?  Much of this is work that we will do, or have done, when hiring.  I would advise you to go back and read my series on hiring the best hourly team members starting here.  Until then, it means many things… getting to know the team member, about their home and family life.  It means finding out what kinds of goals they have for themselves, both long and short-term.  What do they do for fun?  All of these are things we would want to find out if we cared about someone.  The point being… we have to actually care about our team members.  If you really don’t care about your team members at all… I would not waste my time reading any more… it will do you no good.

Servanthood comes into play here… we want to do for others.  It’s natural, for most of us anyway, to feel good about doing something for someone else.  There are multiple books written about servant Leadership… feel free to read them.  I feel that all we need to know is: that it feels good to do for others; doing for others makes them feel good about us; if we care about others’ goals they will be much more likely to care about our goals.  That last one is a little on the selfish side, and that’s OK as long as we don’t just focus on that part.  How do you feel about doing for others… caring for what others need and want?  Do you feel good when you do something for someone else, with nothing expected in return?  I hope so…

Humility is next, for no particular reason, and is listed as teachability.  For our purposes it means we are aware that we don’t know it all.  We are open to the ideas of others.  We can learn from anyone and everyone.  We are all unique, and all see the world through different eyes.  If you are humble and are open to ideas from others you know that the team can solve so many more problems than you can.  Are you humble?  Do you listen to ideas from your team?  Everyone on your team?  Are you open to learning from anyone?  If you think you know more than pretty much everyone around you… well… the word for you is arrogant.  You need a coach or mentor to help you with this if you want to be a good Leader.

Security is important so you don’t feel threatened by those around you.  If you feel secure in yourself you can listen to others, and allow them to be as good as they can be. If you regularly, or irregularly, feel threatened by those around you… please work on getting a mentor, coach, or therapist.  You may need some help here to achieve your goals.  You will have a tough time surrounding yourself with the best people if you are not secure with who you are.

Character is what you do… do you do the right thing, even when no one is looking?  People are always looking.  Perhaps called integrity… you will not be able to gain the respect of the team if you lack integrity.  They will see that you are out for yourself, that your actions do not align with your words, and they will not follow you.  I have failed, in the past, to act with integrity, and even though I wasn’t the best Leader at the time, that failure was the only thing the team rebelled at.  You must always do the right thing.

Listening skills and communication skills go hand in hand.  You cannot be a good communicator without being a good listener.  Good listening skills are not just sitting patiently while the other person speaks, preparing your rebuttal.  Listening skills include listening to understand what the other person means, how they feel about what they are saying, and putting yourself in their shoes.  If you are listening correctly, you will be able to argue the other side of any argument.  Please go back and read my post on listening and what not to say.  Pay attention to what you are doing the next time someone is speaking to you.  You may be surprised to find yourself thinking about what you want for dinner, or how that dry skin on you ankle is itchy again… let those thoughts go, and return your attention to the person speaking, and your interest in really understanding them.

Communication is both listening and communicating what you want to get across.  Please go back and read my post on communicating…  Yes I have a lot of posts… I’ve been busy here.  It’s your responsibility as the person (in particular as a Leader) communicating a thought, to make sure the person listening hears what you are saying in the way in which you intend.  It is your responsibility to read the body language and facial expressions of the listener to ascertain whether or not they heard it as you meant it.  If they are not hearing it as you meant it, you have the responsibility of fixing it before they leave the conversation.  When in doubt, you can even ask… ‘What did you hear me say just then’?  When checking in I’ve found that many people feel attacked in some way if there is the slightest doubt about our intentions.  Make sure!

All of this was to explain the part above about your relationship to yourself.  How do you feel about the qualities listed above?  Please be honest with yourself… I hope you have a coach or mentor, and if so please ask them to give you some honest feedback about these qualities.  If you have a trusted, honest, and disinterested peer (disinterested means that they are interested only in the truth, not how you feel about it) you may ask them too.  These qualities are all necessary, and it’s OK to be working on them as we go along.  The most important thing is that you have an honest assessment of where you are with all of them.  That way you will be able to improve on them, and be transparent with your team.  These are the basis of your relationship with your team members.

Which, I guess, we will talk about next time…

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I also wanted to share this article.  I like what Tanveer has to say…

Revealing the Secret to Successful Leadership

Building Our Leadership Team Part 2… Getting Buy-In For Our Team Goals

Where were we…? Oh yeah… the key.

So… I’ve been the Leader on many different teams, and in many meetings like these ones. We’re coming up with goals, and I REALLY want several of my goals to end up on this list. So, of course, I do my best to steer the conversation the way I’d like it to go. In the fist few years I feel like I’m doing so so… not as well as I’d like, and not bad. For the next so many years I feel that I’m getting better at making my point, and influencing the people who work for me. Most importantly I’m getting my goals onto the list, thinking everyone is behind them. It’s really only in the last 10 years that I realize that no… everyone has always been quite aware of what I’ve been doing, and quietly resenting me (and every other leader who does it) for doing it. They are not really buying into my goals, since I’m pretty much forcing them onto the list. Only when my goals happen to be goals that they would all agree should be OUR goals do they actually get behind them.

The point is… people are not as gullible as we like to think. You will only do yourself a disservice, and chip away at any trust you have been working hard to build by forcing your ideas onto the group. You have to trust the group. It’s hard I know, and they will surprise you.

The key here… The best idea is not always the actual ‘best’ idea. The best idea, the one you should implement, is the one that the most people will buy-into, and get behind. That is the idea that will get done. It might not move you as far as your grand idea would have (if everyone would have gotten behind it) and it will move you in the right direction, with everyone feeling good about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and where the team ends up. Later, you can use the momentum of that success to get the group to come up with a bigger goal, a stretch goal, maybe even where you wanted to go in the first place. You will also build a lot of trust this way. Please don’t force it!

Now… We have a list of goals that we came up with together. Together, remember!?
OK… so what we actually have is a dream. It will turn into a plan when we assign action steps. So that’s the next thing we need to do… assign action steps. How? Well… there are a couple of schools of thought here.

One school would have us assign tasks to the people who are best at them, and who would enjoy doing them. That’s fine and dandy, and might make more sense for our team right now, since we need to reboot. We are going to be holding our team to higher standards all around, so allowing our apprentices to do what they’re best at is the best thing to do at this time.

The other school, which is more useful when we have a team that is functioning well, states that we should assign tasks to help people learn what they don’t know, things that will challenge them. So… if you already know how to schedule well, however are not the best buyer, you will be buying until you are a great buyer.
Once we get our team member base where we need them, we will be able to get both our team members and apprentices trained to be ready for their next job. Our apprentices will be getting ready to be Leaders on their own teams, and our best team members will be our next round of apprentices. Yes, we are raising our own leaders. Do you know of anyone else who is developing leaders to fill your future needs? I didn’t think so… with these lessons, with the help of your coach/mentor/therapist, and the books you are reading, you will be changing your team into one that has a culture of developing strong, skilled Leaders, who are well prepared to be successful Leading their own teams.

Getting buy-in with the task assignment is important too, and I would suggest doing this part together at one of your meetings. This is also your chance to really amp up your apprentice’s energy around getting your team where you want them. If your current team is like most, you and your apprentices spend untold time and energy just getting the basics done, following up after team members constantly. Call outs and mediocre job performance keep you putting out fires much of them time. You have good ideas and plans that rarely come to fruition because of your poor performing team. Now that you are all on board with what you have all agreed needs to happen, you should take advantage of the momentum and build all of the energy you can. Moving forward, you as the team Leader, will take every opportunity to maintain that energy, staying positive and celebrating every small win.

Remember when we were indoctrinating our new hire? Remember how we made sure they knew that we had faith in their success on the team, and that we were excited to have them on the team? Sure you do (if you don’t go back and read the series on hiring)… well you are going to do the same thing with your apprentices. Just because they are part of your Leadership team doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear that you have faith in them. We all need to hear that. We all need to hear our Leader say: I’m really happy to have you on the team; I’m so proud of your accomplishments so far; You have everything you need to be successful; I will do whatever I can to help you achieve your goals; you are an important part of the team, and a key to our success!

You know how a Buddhist might say something like ‘stop striving after what you don’t have, and want what you have’? Want what you have? Yes… these apprentices are the ones you have. Do you honestly feel the statements in the paragraph above are true? Are you happy to have them as part of your Leadership team? If not, you need to rethink this whole thing. In order to really change the culture on a team you need the complete buy-in of everyone on your Leadership team. You will not be able to fool any of your apprentices into believing what you do not believe. So… want what you have. It will take some work, and… they are probably capable of doing everything you need them to do. They are probably not as: dumb, disinterested, slow, uncaring, ignorant, and anything else you can add, as you think. Mostly, I’ve found that people need to be believed in. They need to be appreciated, and trusted. They need to be cared about, and feel that they are an important part of the team. Feel that, and let them know you feel that, and you will be amazed at what they will do for you. This you cannot fake… you must feel it. Want what you have.

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I think this great article kinda fits here…

The Importance of Sacrifice For Leaders

How to Build a Leadership Team part 1… How to Set Team Goals

OK… back on track.  so we’re pretty much done with the hiring and indoctrination, although we will need to talk about the training, and follow-up with our new team member sooner rather than later, so we might see another aside.

For now, we need to move forward with building a Leadership team, without which we have no chance of building a high functioning team out of those great people we just learned to hire.  We started the process by meeting with our apprentices, to define our current reality.  Again, I find myself working on two things at once here.  We need to proceed to defining our goals, determining what needs to change, now that we agree on what is happening, and in addition to that there is also the personal work that needs to happen…

I am going to guess that the vast majority of you reading this do not have a boss who is a great Leader and is mentoring you.  You are more likely on your own in your hunt for the skills it takes to hire and keep the best team members.  Keeping those team members requires Leadership skills.  If you were sitting here with me we would talk about what I see you doing, how you are interacting with your team, why those things are or are not working for you, what behaviors need to change, and how to change them.  Often we would also need to talk about what thinking needs to change.  Since you are there and I am here, I can only talk about what should happen, at least in my experience, and you will have to find ways to get an objective look at your own emotions, behaviors, actions, and reactions to determine why you have been failing to achieve the results you want, what needs to change, and how to go about making those changes.  If you have specific questions post them in the comments box and I will do my best to answer them.

I think, if you don’t have a boss who is a good leader, you should do your best to find a mentor.  This person must be the kind of Leader you strive to be, otherwise how will they know how to get you there?  As John Maxwell would say, a leader can only develop others to his or her own level, and not beyond.  If your mentor is in a Leadership position, and yet is micromanaging, overbearing, and is not developing Leaders, they will not be able to show you how to be the kind of Leader who does those things.  Does that make sense to you?  Good.

I would suggest starting with other Leaders who work around you.  You will know you are onto to a good choice when you find a Leader who: has the respect of their team, has team members who don’t want to leave the team except to be promoted, promotes more team members than most, has a high functioning team, helps the team members achieve their goals, and is achieving their own goals as a team Leader.  Someone who fits this description will most likely be willing to talk to you about helping you develop your leadership skills.  You AND your apprentices are also, I expect, reading one of the two books I suggested in Hiring Hourly Team Members Part 15.  You should all be reading the same book, so you can talk about what you’ve been doing wrong, and how you are all going to act moving forward.

For now, we’ll get back to our team building…

Once we know and agree where we are, and what is actually happening, we need to decide as a team where we want to be.  We will have goals that we will need to reach, such as sales goals, margin and labor targets, etc…  In addition to these we will set our own goals for the team.  What is the minimum quality we will accept?  What level of service?  How will we judge ourselves?  How will we move those unacceptable people off the team?  Is there any chance we can change their behavior rather than losing them?  How and when will we give each other feedback?  This is important because many of the things we will be doing moving forward will be new to us, and may even seem unnatural.  We will have to help each other along in order to stay on track.  If you, as the Leader, think you can do this alone, and are not willing to accept feedback from your apprentices, you will not succeed in achieving your goals.

This is a key… Humility… listening to the people who work for and with you, and actually hearing how you come across, how you are as opposed to how you want to be, is a mandatory skill.  If you have ever come across in a way other than you intended… see this post…  Building our Leadership skills…  You took it the wrong way!  If you believe: that you are smarter than everyone around you; that you know better than everyone around you; that you could fix almost every situation if they would just listen to you; or if you blame anyone but yourself for your failures, please make an appointment to see a therapist or a job/leadership coach.  You have some issues with humility, and will NOT be able to be a great leader, or build a great team without doing some personal work.

Now, we all agree that we are going to raise our standards, and reach whatever goals we have set for ourselves.  Look at each of your goals and make sure that they are all quantifiable.  That is, can we measure them?  If not, how will we know how we are doing, or when we have achieved them?  Some of them may have to be modified to make them measurable   Remember, we are still doing this as a group.  It will not turn out well if you meet, agree on our reality, come up with goals, and then the Leader takes them and returns with a different list.  Your apprentices will not buy into your list of goals, and you are certain to lose some of the trust you have been building.

I would also want you look at your tasks, and make sure your break down builds in lots of smaller goals… one of the keys to maintaining a high energy level around something big like raising standards, and rebuilding team morale, is celebrating lots of small wins.

Another quick but important key here… We get more of what we reward and celebrate.  So… when you are setting up your goals, you must be sure to align the way you reward the team with your goals.  The majority of these rewards don’t have to be huge… they can just be small tokens… movie passes, free meals, etc…  Your main reward system should also be aligned with your goals, however I realize that many of you will not be in a position to alter those.  You will do what you can.  So many companies have terrific goals, and then they fail to align their reward system with those goals.  The end product?  Those goals go unmet of course.  You will do it differently.  You will align your rewards with your goals.  You will set up many small wins to celebrate along the way.  You will publicly appreciate team members every time you see them doing something right.  You will never correct a team member in front of other team members.  You and your apprentices will all be singing the same song, over and over and over, and you will all help each other stay positive.  Your standards will be the same from day-to-day and shift to shift.  You will sit in with your apprentices when they have difficult conversations, just as a moderator, making sure each person is ‘hearing’ the other and making sure it all turns out well, and then giving your apprentice feedback afterwards.  You will give away all of the credit to your team members and apprentices, while taking all of the blame when things go sideways.  You and your apprentices will be shining examples of the behavior you want to see.  Be the change you want to see… isn’t that what Gandhi said?  He was able to change a whole nation.  We just need to change our team.

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

Here is a nice article about setting goals.. enjoy!

Seven Principles for Setting Goals That Work

There is another key here, and we’ll talk about it in the next post…

How Transparency Builds Trust

It took me a long time to figure this out, and I find that transparency goes hand in hand with trust.

I’ve learned that in order to earn trust and loyalty we must be transparent.  There should be very few secrets.  There are really only a handful of things that everyone can’t know.  For instance, we can’t talk with everyone about other team member’s personal problems, or anything we are working with them to correct, like  behavioral problems.  There may be some financial information that we might decide not to share with everyone.

There are also conversations with an assistant or my leader that are about me, or other team members that should be private… so make them just that… private.  Have those conversations away from the workplace so your team doesn’t see you having ‘secret’ conversations or ‘closed door’ talks.  Occasionally this is fine, and too much of it starts to tear away at the trust we are trying to build.  Everyone else’s mind is just as crazy as yours, and it doesn’t take long before people start mistrusting us.

Beyond that, I have found very few instances where it did not benefit me (and team morale) to be very open and communicative about what was going on.  That includes, at least for me, rules that have to be followed.

A good example of this (where I work) is how much a team member can/should get for an annual raise.  There are company as well as regional guidelines to have to be followed.  For the first few years in my leadership role I did not share how and why a team member’s raise was determined.  I did of course talk extensively to them about where they stood in their development, where I thought their growth opportunities were, and from there we came up with a plan for achieving their goals.

After a couple of years I started to get feedback from the team about how they felt about their raises.  From there it was an easy step to begin describing the process I had to follow, and how their raise was determined.

There were two ways I could have approached this with my team.  One would be to describe the system as something that was ‘put upon’ us, and that even though ‘we’ didn’t like it, it was the system we were stuck with.  In this way I could put myself on the side of the team member, and make the whole thing an ‘us vs them’…. with me siding with the team.  This approach can create loyalty to the ‘leader’, however this kind of loyalty looks more like friendship.  It also makes it very difficult to set standards and, when needed, hold people accountable to their actions since the team members see you as a team member and not their leader. The problem with this approach is that we end up taking the low road… in that we are not standing up for ourselves and supporting our leaders and company.  It’s divisive and fear based.

I feel that a goal of leadership should be to unify, not divide.  So… the other approach is to try to bring each team member onto the company team.  We’ve all agreed to work here, and in agreeing to accept our paycheck we implicitly agree to follow the rules.  If there are rules we don’t agree with or think are unfair or arbitrary we can work to change them.  Until then, we work within them (or make the decision to leave).  I describe the process to the team members so that they fully understand it..

Since pretty much every team member I hire is able to do any of the ‘tasks’ of my job (with some training), it seems to me that part of my job is to help them develop the mindset of a leader.  I hire them with the expectation that they will be moving into a leadership role sooner or later.  Explaining that we are part of a larger team, and why we make the decisions we make helps to unify us as a whole.  I feel taking the time to explain how things work goes a long way in building not only trust among my team members, but also helps to allow them to picture themselves in the role of leader.  Everyone understands both where they stand, and at least the next steps in getting them to where they want to be.

Starting this process with newly hired team members is, I find, much more productive than waiting until they show an interest in picking up more responsibility (if only to make more money).  I believe that having this level of transparency on my team has played a big part in how many people started as team members and are now in store and team leadership in the area.  In the last 4 years no fewer than 12 people I have hired off the street as my team members are now in leadership roles at the store and team level.  I don’t know anyone else at Whole Foods (at least locally) who can make that claim.  It’s not me… it’s doing my best to create an environment where great people can flourish.  It’s trying to be a leader…

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

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