How to hire, train, and maintain an hourly workforce

Archive for the tag “trust”

Building Relationships… What Exactly Does That Mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where am I going with all of this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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!

Great Doesn’t Happen By Accident… Changing expectations

What Does It Take To Build And Develop A Truly Great Team?  Part 6 of a series…

Welcome to part 6 of this series on hiring and developing a great team, specifically with an hourly workforce.  We’ve talked about hiring for qualities, correctly welcoming (indoctrinating) your new hires, and now we are moving to the next steps necessary to keep your great new hires great, as well as changing expectations for your current team members.  In part 5 we talked about helping people who do not belong on your team find their happiness elsewhere, and deciding if they really have to go, or are we acting out of fear.

Today we will focus on:

2. Changing expectations for our existing team members.

We will likely have a large number of our team members happy to be getting great new people on the team (finally!), and happy to see the worst go (what have you been waiting for?).  The rest will be swept along by the strongest force (whether it be good or evil), and while they are not the yet the great team members we’d like to have on the team, I’ve found that the ‘window’ for great team members is wider that most people think.  Many more people would be great additions to the team if they are properly trained, trusted, allowed to take chances, and if they really believe that we, their team Leaders, have their best interest at heart.

Our current team members are not yet acting like Great team members for several reasons.  As Leaders, I believe our first job is to assume that our team members are fully capable of greatness, and our job is to remove the roadblocks that are holding them back.

Some of them have had the creativity and willingness to speak up beaten out of them by past bosses.  They are now doing average work because in the past it has not been in their best interest to speak up, make suggestions, maintain high work standards, or exceed expectations.

For these people the process will include brainstorming sessions, allowing them to move forward with their ideas with little or no input from you, and rewarding and celebrating each and every time one of them speaks up, offers an idea, or provides even the smallest bit of constructive criticism.

You should expect the process of encouraging people to speak up to take some time… months at least, if not longer.  At first they will not trust you to listen to, or care about what they have to say.  The need for patience and understanding is paramount, and your ability to ride out this process will be tested.  If you are able to stick with it, the payoff will be more than worth it.

Some of them have always had each and every step of their jobs spelled out for them, and have not had the freedom to innovate, or make any decisions for themselves.  These people have been taught to follow orders, rules, and job descriptions to the letter, and the thought of changing this learned behavior could be very scary.

These people do not expect to be trusted (in fact they will likely expect just the opposite), so you must be not just willing, but eager to extend trust to everyone on your team.  People don’t need to ‘earn’ your trust… people deserve trust simply because they are people.  And as Leaders it is our job to extend trust.

Here again, we get more of what we reward and celebrate.  So… if we want our team members to take chances, try new methods, and innovate, we should celebrate and reward each and every instance.

I have found that it helps to suggest ways in which people might step out of their rigid confines (whether they are self defined, or have been defined for them by others).  We are often able to see the right answers and best course of action for others, and yet unable to see any path at all for ourselves.

Literally making suggestions about how to approach their work differently may not work, since too many people will hear our suggestions as yet more direction.  So… I’ve had success simply relating my experiences…  “When I was… I tried this…” or “I had this great team Leader who suggested that I try… I failed miserably, but because of that failure I thought of trying… which worked out great” or “I’ve seen this… or this… work in the past, and I bet you can come up with an even better way to…”

This is where celebrating every attempt will help you, because many of your team members will be hesitant to try something new for fear of failure… or more specifically, the consequences of failure.  So… having their team Leader celebrate and reward every attempt at innovation will go a long way toward helping your people break out of their old habits.

Some people have ideas or pictures of themselves that are not true, or not supported by fact.  You know the stories we tell ourselves… like: I’m not good at math… I could do everything about the next job but the financials.  For whatever reason, many of us tell ourselves, convince ourselves that we are not capable, or not able to do certain jobs or tasks … we can help people break out of these limiting molds and thought patterns.

As we develop relationships with our team members, we will begin to understand what thought patterns are getting in the way, and over time we can work on helping our team members see that these beliefs are not only false, but often the opposite is true!  They will only listen to us however, once we show them that we have their best interest at heart.

Some people have attitudes that stand in their way.  We can be too idealistic, feel that everything we do must be perfect, or that we cannot compromise at all without compromising who we are.  Attitudes like this can easily keep us from building on our strengths, getting enough tasks accomplished, or working well as part of a team.

We can help these people by showing them how this belief or behavior is getting in the way of achieving their goals.  Our first job, as usual, is to develop strong, trusting relationships.  Then, when they realize that our goals for them are the same as their goals for themselves, they will actually hear us when we talk to them about how these attitudes (which then affect their behaviors) are keeping them from achieving their goals.

To sum up… to move our current team members from average to great, our first steps are to build strong, trusting relationships; assume there are obstacles keeping them from being great; removing the obstacles and roadblocks we can remove; helping our team members develop new habits and overcome old patterns; and rewarding and celebrating every attempt towards the behaviors we need to see more of.

Next time we will discuss how our expectations for performance and behavior need to change in order to achieve great, as well as how to relate these changes to our team.  As the past behavior of the team is exactly what we allowed it to be, we need to fully own our responsibility in order for the team to accept the needed changes.

Does Your Workplace Foster Excellence Or Mediocrity?

Excellence poster

Everything needs the right climate for growth.

If you have mediocre conditions you are going to get mediocre results.

You have to provide the right conditions to manifest excellent results.

It doesn’t really matter what results you are seeking, if you are not mindful of the climate you are operating in and/or creating, your results may be mediocre rather than excellent.

Take a look at your company… an honest, objective look.

  • Are you achieving your goals? Are you generally meeting or exceeding your forecasts without some kind of threat or negative consequence?
  • Do your team Leaders regularly reach out to you with questions and concerns?
  • Do they occasionally reach out and tell you that they aren’t sure what to do, ask how best to proceed, and to ask for advice or clarity?
  • Do they sometimes question your decisions? And does this lead to an open discussion?
  • Do you trust pretty much all of them? Do you extend trust as a rule?
  • Do you foster a culture of encouragement, and give 5 to 9 positives for every constructive comment? Do you do this yourself, and do you remind others to do this?

It doesn’t matter what you would like to happen, or what should happen… Answer these questions with what is actually happening in your workplace.

If you answer mostly no to these questions…

You are likely creating and supporting a culture of fear, and you are fostering mediocre performance.

You are teaching your team Leaders to keep their opinions to themselves; to play it safe and shoot for staying under the radar; that they are not safe in their jobs; and that they should not take any risks or chances to strive for excellence.

You are developing a culture of ‘every man for himself’. Your team Leaders do not feel that they are an important part of the team, nor do they share your goals.

You will see this reflected in disengaged team members and team Leaders. They will be going through the motions, however they will not be showing any passion for their work. Your team members are not happy in their jobs, and this will not feel like a happy workplace; they are not engaging with your customers; nor are they striving to do their best.

You can turn this around! It will take time, and energy, and you can do it.

How to foster excellent results…

  • Excellence follows clear and transparent expectations. Everyone at every level should be aware of the expectations, and they should be consistent at each level.
  • Encourage innovation by aligning rewards with attempts at innovation and risk taking, in addition to excellence, as long as it is supporting the stated goals.
  • Encourage mistakes… if you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough! And if you can’t afford a mistake then be a partner in that area/process. Don’t leave your team leaders out to dry… work with them to assure success where it is critical.
  • Understand that everyone is not great at everything. We all have our strengths, and we should be playing to our strengths and working to build on them. People will need help in areas that are not their strengths, support them; partner them with those who have those strengths; partner with them yourself. Fully support them through the hard times and they will reward you will trust and loyalty.
  • Build strong trusting relationships… this is Leadership people. Creating relationships with others is what allows you influence them. Yes it takes time and energy… do you want to achieve your goals or not?
  • Build a culture of trust. This means that you, the Leader, must extend trust to those around you. It is up to you to say, out loud, publicly, that you trust them, believe in them, and are confident in them. It’s up to you to help them feel safe in their jobs… safe trying new things, safe attempting and possibly failing. Your Leaders and team members are the ones carrying out and achieving the goals of the team… each one of them needs to feel like an appreciated, and important part of the team.
  • Build a culture of encouragement. This means you are not critiquing everything everyone does all of the time. Would you welcome someone outside your company to come in and second-guess every decision you ever made? So stop criticizing all of the time, and start praising every little win. You will be amazed at the difference in the attitudes of those around you when you start seeing the things they do right. Yup… they will start doing more things right.
  • Understand the cyclical nature of everything… no one stays on top forever. No one will be striving to be at the top of their game if they will get in trouble for every slip. No team Leader will work harder, and push his or her team to be atop the KPI list if all they get is hassled when they cannot maintain that position.
  • Reward Leadership and Leadership development — people have to feel inspired to achieve excellence, and we are not inspired by some disconnected goals, or by tasks. It takes Leaders, people who build relationships to inspire a team to greatness. Reward leadership development because you need to be in this for the long run… you need to build bench strength… tomorrows Leaders.

People will not take the time to do any of these things if your reward system is not in alignment. You will get more of what you reward and celebrate… you will not get what you do not reward. It’s that simple.

How Successful Leaders Build Teams That Thrive

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

How Successful Leaders Build Teams That Thrive

Why You Should Hire For What Can’t Be Trained

Train track making connections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about Vision? Teachability? Servanthood? Emotional Intelligence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the benefits of team Leaders hiring their own?

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

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

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

How to Spot Leadership Qualities in Your Team Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Developing Your Future Leaders Part 3… Developing the Leaders Around You

Developing the Leaders Around You

The best way I have found to gain trust is to give a way responsibility. So… that’s what you are going to do. You are going to look for, and perhaps have to develop methods for giving a lot of team member’s responsibility for something. We are not talking about the responsibility for the behavior of others… we already talked about getting people ready for that starting here. By this time you should also be reading Developing the Leaders Around You, by John C. Maxwell.

You might already have positions of responsibility, like a buyer, merchandiser, or other roles in your industry. We are talking about anyone who is responsible for something like keeping track or anything, ordering anything, collecting anything, distributing anything (including information), or any other task that can be transferred from one person to another. Many times we can split off parts of these roles in order to create more opportunities for people to share in the responsibilities.

Remember, we are starting out slow. We want to allow people the opportunity to stretch and try something new, while putting no more onto their plate than they can handle, at least at first. With your experience, you might think some of these roles are ridiculously small and easy, however we will be giving this small responsibility to people who may have never been trusted to do anything before. They will appreciate any trust we give.

We can make a team member responsible for order just one part, or just cups (or just one size of cup for that matter), or just paper goods, or soda, just screws, or just nuts, ordering rags, keeping track of pallets, distributing and/or collecting training forms (or any kind of form), keeping track of who turned in their form, updating a calendar, collecting and filing old schedules, reconciling anything you have… the choices are limitless… use your imagination.

If you manage a restaurant you have plenty of ways to offer responsibilities to those you want to develop. Break up parts of your perishable and dry goods orders and allow your new apprentice to get his or her feet wet. How you ask?

Well… it’s been a while since managing restaurants, and still… how did you learn to order? Someone picked up the order guide and walked you through the cooler. They talked their way through the guide as you walked through the cooler. You probably have pars for everything you order, so it’s not rocket science. If you are not using pars, you should. Once they are in place, simple math and a commitment to getting it right is all it takes. The first few times, maybe more if you feel uncomfortable, do the order with them. Then you can hand it off completely, meaning they do the order, and you check the order before sending it. You decide when you can let go completely. Remember, someone trusted you. To be a Leader you have to extend trust.

You can do the same thing with dry goods. What else do you order? Paper goods?   You can delegate, or give away responsibility for, almost anything and everything. Checking in orders, back room cleanliness and organization, keeping up the bulletin boards… anything. A team member who has potential, and yet has never before had a Leader like you, will do anything they can to earn trust, respect, and the chance to move up and make a little more money. All you need to do is develop those relationships, and instill the belief that you trust them, care about them, believe in them, appreciate them, and need to them to be successful. Once that is done, or at least started, and you start talking to people about the chance to learn something new and have a little responsibility, the people who are ready for the chance will be all over it.

For someone who has never before been trusted, and who now has a Leader who cares about them, who wants to see them succeed, and who believes they are a valuable part of the team, no responsibility is too small. You may be the first person in this team member’s life to believe in them and trust them. You have a big responsibility to not let them down… give them all of the training, tools and support they need to be successful in this role. No matter how small you think the responsibility, make it a big deal for them, celebrate their success, and I guarantee you will gain a committed and loyal team member. Gaining a committed and loyal worker is worth so much more than time and energy getting there will cost. Imagine what you could do with a team full of committed and loyal team members… maybe not all superstars, and all committed and loyal? You could do amazing things!

You, and whoever else is involved with dividing up these tasks, and training your team members, will all have to be on the same page with this. Meet with everyone involved, and make sure they fully understand why you are doing this, including the long-term benefits.

The long-term benefits here are many. You gain trust, loyalty, and respect by helping your team members achieve their goals and advance their careers. You have Leaders in the pipeline to replace the people who are promoted or leave the company. Your job ceases to be putting out fires because you have so many people who are invested and committed to their jobs. You experience fewer call outs and no shows. You have more people who are willing to work an extra shift when the need arises. You suffer fewer interruptions in workflow thanks to a more stable workforce. Your turnover is now way below industry standards, saving you quite a bit of money, even though your are paying your stable, committed, dependable workforce more than industry standards.

You have two jobs here. One is to set the expectations of the people who will be doing the training. The thing we are not doing is threatening their jobs. We trust them enough to train someone to do their job (or at least parts of it), and you have been talking to them for some time now about their future, right? They trust you, at least more than they had in the past, and know you have their best interest at heart. None of this is new, as we will have been setting the stage for this for some time. They will know that we are looking for them to move into the next level of Leadership, whether that is a supervisory role, buyer, assistant team Leader, or whatever intermediate role you have in your workplace, as soon as they are fully prepared to assure their success in that role. You are helping them advance their Leadership qualities, job skills, and career.

For the people who are getting trained, you will have been talking to them about developing not only their Leadership skills, but also their job skills. This is the next step. They will still have their team member responsibilities, and part of the time they will be learning the skills to move into their next role. You will have been preparing them for this step for months… talking about the opportunity, and making sure they have the basic knowledge needed. The only thing worse than someone ending up in a role for which they are not prepared, is being the person who put them in that role without first preparing them to be successful.

For me, one of the worst things I have experienced at work, is putting someone in a role with responsibility, and finding they could not meet the expectations of the role. After doing it once, I would not allow myself to do it again. One person losing their job because I put them into a role they were not ready for was one too many. Several people have since left my team because I was not satisfied that they were ready for the next step, and I was not prepared to promote them. I’m OK with that.

Please do not put yourselves or your team members in this situation. Choose the right people and make sure you have prepared them well enough so you have no doubts about their success in their next role. Be sure of even the most basic skills… I have had team members who never really got basic math, and yet were able to fake and lie their way much farther than you would believe. When they were finally ready to be put into the next challenging role for them, where basic math skills could not be faked they were found out (and quite embarrassed). Make it easy on everyone, and go over even the most basic skills that would otherwise be taken for granted, with each team member before you choose the next role for him or her.

You will probably have to spread this process out over some time, because you will wan to be checking in with each and every team member. You are their team Leader, and no one’s attention will mean more to them than yours. Never underestimate the power, authority, and influence that the role of Team Leader brings with it.

After a while, when things are going pretty smoothly, every team member who has responsibilities will have a back up… Someone who is learning that job. Yup. Everyone gets the chance to learn something, and have more responsibility. It doesn’t matter what the responsibilities are, that person will be training a back up. By this time the only people you will have in positions with responsibility will be those who have shown their Leadership qualities in some small way, and you are now developing those qualities and preparing them to become the next layer of Leaders in your company. Even if someone is only responsible for reordering the paper towels, they get to train someone to do that job. They will look forward to getting more responsibility, and you just gained yet another more committed team member. Soon you won’t have to bring in any talent from the outside… you are raising your own. All you have to do is continue to use our method of hiring the best team members.

Remember that you will now have to walk them through how to train another person. Do not assume that anyone knows how to train another person. It takes confidence, patience, communication skills, listening skills, and they must be willing to extend trust. So this too will be a longer process than you were probably hoping it would be. Do not allow yourself or any of your apprentices to skip any steps here. It only takes one person to undo much of what you have been working so hard to build, so your job is to take it slow, follow up, and follow up. OH… and don’t forget to follow up.

If you are unsure about any of this, or have any questions at all, please feel free to ask. I know that I repeated a few thoughts in this post, and this part of the process is very important in building your Leadership development machine.

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

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