Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How And Why I Indoctrinate Team Members…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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