‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!’
Geoff had been with Martin from the start, and had worked hard to help him grow the business. As a result, he’d been promoted to manager, reward for all his efforts. Well, financially he was so much better off, great! But the day-to-day reality felt more like a punishment.
Plucked from a job that he excelled in, and where he felt completely comfortable, even when the pressure was on, he now found himself managing a team of fifteen, actually no, not even a team, a group of people who came together every day to work under the same roof. Their work standards certainly didn’t match his; ‘sloppy’ and ‘slow’ were the two words that summed them up for him.
When I met him he was exhausted, frustrated and disbelieving that this group of people would ever do their job right without him watching over them, let alone take ownership. He was checking every piece of work that went out to clients, working longer and longer hours to do so, and the team, knowing their work would always be checked by him, didn’t bother to check it themselves. Why bother if he didn’t trust them?
Together we set to work on reviewing the customer journey with the team, I introduced them to the concept of simple, logical, repeatable, and we streamlined their flow of work, removing all of the hoops that they and their clients had been jumping through. We developed How-To guides for the most routine tasks, to achieve consistency and raise the basic standards, and we introduced regular meetings to improve communication, daily fifteen-minute huddles to set the expectations for the day, weekly meetings to review what had been achieved and set priorities for the coming week. Once a month I got them to meet as a full team, and to have one of the team do a twenty-minute presentation on something that would be of interest and/or benefit to the whole team. After that meeting, I encouraged them to go out for a team drink, or maybe even a meal, to build team spirit.
With Geoff, I focused first on his mindset, and the notion he had that everyone but him was lazy, useless and not to be trusted. I asked him to focus on training and feedback; to show individuals exactly what he wanted, by using How-Tos, and then to let them get on and do their job, without his interference. I encouraged him to trust that if he trained his people properly, and gave them feedback that encouraged them to improve, then they would, and that mistakes were not the end of the world, but a learning opportunity.
Geoff wasn’t convinced at first, but to his credit, he did listen, and he did change both his mindset and his actions. The daily, weekly and monthly meetings became the norm, and as the team began to blossom, I watched Geoff relax into his role as their manager. Twelve months later, with three further managers grown from the team, Geoff was promoted to Director within the business! Proud or what?
When I started working with Amit, it was clear that he had a problem with the team. For a start they didn’t work as a team, and they were all way too focused on the clock; never a good sign. Turnover was high too; for a business that was five years old, 90% of the people that I met had been there for less than twelve months.
There was one employee though who was driving Amit mad; always turning up late, questioning every decision, doing sloppy work; Amit was at his wits’ end and wanted to know what I would do about it, in his place.
‘Well, tell me one thing first’, I said, ‘Do her values match yours?’
‘Good god, no!’ was the reply, ‘But she had an excellent CV’.
That is so often the problem, and one that you’ll have difficulty overcoming. Hiring to a CV, focusing on the experience that an individual has had, rather than their values, their attitude, their fit for you, and your team, is a big, and a very common mistake.
So, Amit sat her down and had a conversation about his vision and his values, and what he was looking for in the people he worked with. He inspired the woman in question with his passion and drive, and she is now a real advocate of the business and a highly valued member of his team.
Focus on values; find those whose values match yours, you can always train for skill.
Do one thing: have you shared your vision and values with your team? If not, it’s never too late to start or reinforce.
Thanks for reading.