Thursday, April 17, 2014

Developing Your Future Leaders Part 2…

Training Our Team Members

While you are doing everything that we’ve been talking about so far, you start training.  Yes… even more on your plate.  That’s why you make the big money, right?  ;  ) 

Some of it will be retraining, and that’s OK.  It’s OK if they tell you they already know how to do that… show them your expectations.  Tell them that you have very high standards, and you know they are capable of meeting them.  Raising the standards of quality, efficiency, and service on the team is part of moving towards a high functioning team.  Tell them all of this… remember our belief in transparency, and how this will build trust.  Talk to them.

And remember, you are training people… these people are just like you.  They do not respond well to being talked down to any more than you do.  They do not appreciate being spoken to as if they were children any more than you do.  They want to be shown at least one; maybe two ways of achieving the outcome needed, and then allowed to work out which method is best for them.  We have to allow them to make mistakes, and see if there is yet an even better way to get to the desired outcome.  If you are not ready to do this, you are not quite ready to be a Leader.

There are doubtless people on your team who have not been properly trained to do their job in the most efficient way (at least the most efficient you are aware of), or given high enough expectations (and the support to meet them), or given the chance to ask questions, or been allowed to practice the correct method, or the chance to alter the task to allow them to do it faster/better/easier.  You will talk to each and every team member about his or her job.  No one knows more about the tasks of a role than the person who has been doing those tasks. 

Again, some of you are not quite ready to trust that this is the case… that your team members are not just out to take advantage of you.  That they are just waiting for the opportunity to make you look like a fool.  You might believe that his kind of thinking is natural, and no one really trusts other people to perform well. 

Your thinking would be wrong!  Do you believe that your boss should trust you?  Are you deserving of trust?  I’m guessing most of you will answer yes… yes, you think you are deserving of trust.  And yet you don’t believe that the people who work for you are deserving of your trust?  Hmmm… How would you define that kind of thinking?  Does the word arrogant fit?  No?  Then how do you justify and rationalize the view that you are deserving and the people who work for you are not?

All right then!  Let’s move on shall we?

You don’t have to trust everyone with everything at once.  After all, they have been taught that they should not be thinking for themselves, and have not been allowed to do what they think is best.  Start by asking questions and gathering information.  Ask your current team members the questions we learned to ask in my series on hiring (which starts here).  Ask them what they would do differently if they were in charge?  What would they change if they owned the company?  What would they like to see changed about their job?  Do they have all of the tools they need to achieve the desired results?

Make sure each and every team member knows why their particular job is important in the big scheme of things.  Over the years I have found so many team members had no idea that the job they did was important.  It might sound silly to you… that you would be paying someone to do a job that was unnecessary, and yet no one had ever told these team members that they were an important part of the team.  Make sure you say these words out loud… “You are an important part of the team, and I am invested in your success!”

You may not get the picture perfect reaction to your openness, honesty, and transparency, and that’s OK.  You cannot take any of their reaction personally. Remember that your team members are probably expecting you to find a way to lower their pay, or their benefits if they get any, reduce their hours, or put more on their plates while giving them nothing in return.  That is the way it is in too many workplaces…  Is that how it has been in your workplace?  It’s your job to show them, not just tell them, but also show them over time, that this is different.  You are listening to them.  You will make sure they have the tools they need.  You will allow them to try new things, and expect that some of the time it will come to naught.  You will have their back when they make a mistake.  In time, they will begin to trust you.  It is then that you will begin to have real influence over them.

This is a process.  It takes an investment from you. You have to give more time and energy than you are used to.  For many of us transparency and honesty do not come naturally at work.  You will have to follow up closely with your apprentices and keep everyone on the same page.  If it is at all possible, work a variety of shifts, to be working alongside your apprentices as often as you can.  Speak to the team members who almost exclusively work with your apprentices, and see if they are getting the same message that you are giving.  If not, fix it right then and there, and then schedule time for follow up talks with your apprentices.  They need more help (as opposed to you scolding them).

There is a key here… even though we are extending trust, and allowing things to change, we still have a business to run.  People will do what you inspect, not what you expect.  That means A LOT of follow up (at least at first).  You will set that expectation up front with the entire team… you will be allowing AND inspecting.   We still have department, region, and company KPI to meet.  You will do your part, and it won’t take long for them to start believing you.  They have to do their part, and you need to make sure they do, by checking that our standards/quality/quantity expectations are being met.  Part of your job is to hold them accountable, as it is their job to hold you accountable for keeping your word.

Next time, we’ll talk about building trust by giving away responsibility.  Don’t worry…  we’ll talk about the right way to do it.

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