Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A lesson in leadership

You've likely been there, either on one side of the desk or the other.  The interviewer is firing away questions at the interviewee when, inevitably, that point in the interview session arrives where the questioning gets reversed.  Good interviewers ask "do you have any questions for me?"  Good interviewees seize control, if that question isn't asked, and say "do you mind if I ask you some questions?"

When I've experienced that situation as an interviewer, it seems that the first question asked was always "what's your management style" to which I would respond "hire good people and get out of their way."

I realize, in retrospect, that many of us say that but few truly mean it.  Or, if we do, we get lazy at how much effort we put forth into hiring truly "good people."

What often happens in business is that the those who are hired and who are good are taken advantage of by their bosses.  "Go to" people become "go to all the time" people.  While a good team member may enjoy being seen as a "go to" associate, he or she still faces the likelihood of job burn-out because of the consistency of the requests coming in from the boss.  Whether the boss likes it or not, resentment kicks in as the "go to" person feels punished for being a good employee.

How do you fix this problem?  One, make sure that you are giving absolute best effort when making a hire.  And, two, once the hire is made, ensure that you are doing your job as a manager by coaching the new hire--and every member of your team--to get better.

Providing open and honest feedback, to every team member, is essential.  Candid feedback and coaching can help the good get better, keeps everyone engaged with ownership of their career, and allows you to "de-hire" the low performers.

Yes, I said "de-hire."  Ignoring performance issues impacts not only the associate who is under-performing but the team chemistry of the whole group.  Associates take their lead from their boss--when they see a performance issue go un-addressed it is only natural that doubt and resentment can kick in, negatively impacting the performance of the whole team.

Remember, "people quit people before they quit companies."  (Monday Morning Leadership, David Cottrell.)  Don't let your team members quit on you--address the problems which need to be addressed, continue to hire the very best, and coach each and every member of your group.

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