TrustBUSTER™ #7 – Values individual success over team goals
I facilitated 30 people from a department doing a basic what is your behavioral style activity that divided the team up into 4 styles. I made the comment that it is not uncommon for a senior leadership team to be almost 100% concentrated in the more task focused groups in an exercise like this. I asked the leaders in the room to raise their hands. The count was 5 task focused to 1 people focused. Surprising to them, but not to me.
This TrustBUSTER™ is almost 100% focused on people who tend to put task (getting job done) before people (building relationships). This happens for two reasons. First, executives have been rewarded for getting work accomplished. Their talents for achievement, problem solving, and energy to overcome obstacles helped bring them to the c-suite. They are used to winning. If you are on their team it works. If you are on another team it often looks like TrustBUSTER™ #7. Secondly, communication and change management come after the debate and decision-making has already happened within the executive team. Unfortunately, it is the communication plan and ensuing change management that gets overlooked because all the energy has gone into the decision. Without providing the reasons why this is a good move for the overall organization, teams will fill in the blanks. This is where people begin to assign reasons for the change that are based on what they perceive is important to the leaders. Is it reality? Without any other information, perception becomes reality. Enter TrustBUSTER™ #7.
How do leaders avoid this? Here are three steps to making this TrustBUSTER™ less of an issue:
- Be diligent about establishing goals and resolving conflicting goals as part of the planning process. This team should leave this process ready to support the decisions that were made.
- Communicate WHY a decision is made when rolling out a change to your teams. Be transparent about the reasons and get their input during the decision making when possible.
- Focus on building relationships and trust all the time. There will be decisions you have to make where you cannot share the entire WHY. Having built trust will make forgiveness available when it is needed.
TrustBUSTER™ #5 – Tells a lot, listens very little
A study was shared with me once that calculated the average time a doctor listened to a patient before making a diagnosis was 23 seconds. For many of my visits that number has actually proven to be long enough. But for a complex medical issue, Twenty-three seconds is not long enough. In my experience working with the results of employee surveys, not enough listening is always a root cause of the top issues.
Here are some broad generalizations on listening.
- As people become experts at doing something, they become less adept at listening.
- When individuals are rewarded for being great at doing and made a leader, most feel the need to talk louder to make sure things happen.
- A high salary has to be justified by knowing everything and never letting people see your mistakes.
I will let someone else to worry about the issue of twenty-three seconds for doctors, lets talk about how this applies for leaders.
LEADERS: The ability to hear what people need and understand what is going on in an organizations is probably the most important skill a leader will need as they move up the organization. Recently a client shared with me that they were concerned about the statistic that 60% of people currently in jobs are open to moving to another job as the economy improves. Their response? Begin to provide the CEO time to meet with small groups of people so he can hear what they are thinking about. Listening for leaders is about slowing down. The cost? Free!
ORGANIZATIONS: The top three ‘listening’ processes in an organization are performance evaluations, one on ones, and staff meetings. Why do I say this? Listening to individuals requires face time in a setting where they are comfortable and the agenda is about them. Ken Blanchard offers guidelines for one on ones of meeting every other week for 15-30 minutes. How many organizations do that? As for performance evaluations, how many managers see this as listening time vs “I have to get through this and get their signature so I can turn it in and get credit for it” time? Then there is the staff meeting. Does the agenda promote open listening or lots of talking with no questions or debate?
Do we need to do employee surveys? They do serve a purpose and there is always benefit in asking people’s opinion. The mistake is leaning on the surveys as the primary way that listening happens in an organization. It is supposed to be supplemental data to ensure that good listening is happening.
How effectively do you use the ‘big three’ listening times mentioned above? How would you grade yourself on this TrustBUSTER™? How would others grade you?
This is a reprint of the monthly publication called trU Tips – Strategic People Reminders for the busy executive. To subscribe to receive a monthly trU Tips, click here.
What I’m hearing
Forming teams is not a new concept. It can be, however, a new experience for many entrepreneurial organizations entering their next phase of growth, and for industries such as financial services. Teams can help raise revenue, keep relationships connected with service, and reduce the risk of having one person dictate the success of the organization. While the process of team building is simple, doing it effectively is a bigger challenge when the people being asked to join a team are successful largely because of their individual drives.
What it means
“There is no ‘I’ in team.” Great slogan, but it’s wrong. When bringing people together who have been successful largely because of their personal drives to succeed, there has to be room for “I” somewhere, or the team won’t work. It’s unrealistic to ask someone — a top sales person, a driving entrepreneur, a teacher — who has basically worked independently for the first decade of his or her career to change overnight and become a great team member. Bringing independent-minded people together requires an open and honest conversation focused on defining both individual needs and team goals, then deciding if a balance can be achieved.
Building trust is the basic component of performance. In my experience, trust comes before the other three pieces in a four-step process I call trUPerformance™: build trust, build focus, build confidence and build rhythm. While the last three parts are essential for a great, high-functioning team, trust is the key. Allowing people to process through their individual needs, as well as those of the team as a whole, will promote an understanding of how the team can meet its overall goals while allowing its members to have their own needs met. In the end, individuals might decide that being part of a team won’t work for them. Sharing truth allows for good choices to be made.
What you should do
The key in all of this is having a series of conversations with potential team members to identify:
- A list of what they bring to the team, including strengths and weaknesses
- A list of things they want or need from the team
- A list of personal reasons for joining the team, including what they see as the group’s goals or potential
Process these pieces by sharing openly, identifying common themes in both individual needs and team goals. Challenge people to identify needs that are purely “Me” goals (e.g., keeping one’s top 20 clients) and those that are “We” goals that benefit the entire team (e.g., offering a more complete service solution to customers). By systematically going through these conversations, it will become evident whether or not potential team members are compatible, and whether joining the team is the right move for an individual.
Need a partner in effectively forming a team that will have a huge impact on your business? Contact me. Scott@thetrugroup.com
I like the reminder from this post about how important it is to have people bring their whole self to work. While one might look at this post and conclude that it provides a reason not to perform the job – I would offer a challenge to look at this another way. It takes energy for a person to hide things and ‘pretend’. By allowing for some transparency with your leader it frees up mental energy to focus on the work, and allows for some grace from a leader when needed. I like this post.
(DO NOT) Check Your Personal Baggage at the Door.
Good News! Getting B players more energized, engaged, and acting like an A player is not an expensive initiative. The reality? It will take a time commitment from leaders. Here are three moves you can make today to raise the energy level and commitment of your B players.
1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: Leaders need to spend time monthly talking about the performance of the business, quarterly talking about the near term goals, and yearly reviewing the goals and vision for the business. B’s are out there looking for leadership, some clear direction, authenticity, and something to get excited about – so give it to them!
2. Regular One on One Time: As leaders, we look at our solid players and give thanks they are low maintenance. When the demands on our time increases the common response is to take them for granted and slip into a more no maintenance mode. Nothing says you are valued more than time, and people need to feel valued before they will get excited . What if you sat down monthly with your B’s and started asking questions like:
- What challenges are you/the team experiencing this week?
- What questions are you hearing from people about the business?
- What do you see out there that needs fixing?
- What questions do you have for me?
After you ask a question just listen. If having regular one on one time is new be patient. It might take several weeks or months for people to open up because they need to see your commitment to them. If you listen and follow-up on any commitments you make trust will increase and engagement will follow.
3. Help Them Set Goals: B’s are generally doing the core part of their job very well. Use the yearly evaluation time or one on one time to affirm their value, offer support to help them grow to meet personal goals, and invite them to help fix a few things or guide some change. B’s are not looking for a 60 hour work week so they might appear hesitant. If they have some personal constraints that restrict them from giving the business extra time get creative. Whether it is testing a new system, meeting with customers coming in for a visit, or taking a new person under their wing to help them learn – there is untapped potential with these solid team members.
Remember, LOW maintenance is not NO maintenance. Pay a little attention, be authentic, and invite them to jump in. What would be the impact on your business if 50% of your B players poured some extra energy into solving one problem, finding one more customer, or identifying and implementing one efficiency improvement?
It makes great headlines to talk about hiring “A” players. Guy Kawasaki makes the statement that “People need to hire people smarter than they are”, but the reality is “A players hire A players; B players hire C players.” In his book Topgrading, Brad Smart outlines an approach that is designed to ensure 90% of your hires will be A players in the role they are hired into. Few would argue that having great people doing the right things is critical for a business to be successful. To start this discussion, here are three realities for hiring A players.
1. Organizations have a tendency to transform A’s into B’s and C’s: What keeps A’s acting like A’s? The Gallup organization did extensive research that resulted in identifying 12 questions(Q12) to measure engagement, among other things. The first three questions say a lot about what keeps A’s acting like A’s: 1) I know what is expected of me at work 2) I have the tools and resources I need to do my job 3) I have an opportunity to do what I do best everyday. At the core of keeping A’s acting like A’s is communication. This includes keeping them informed about changes in the business and listening to their questions/needs/opinions.
2. Hiring people ‘smarter than they are’ is hard. It takes a tremendous amount of self-confidence and cultural support: This starts with the CEO, and their willingness to allow their executive team to lead, which might result in them not have all the answers all of the time. A key challenge to hiring smarter people is delegating the work (because they are better able to do it) and giving them space to make decisions. This will put leaders in a position to not know all the decisions being made all the time. So, the CEO needs to provide some space to bring information back and leaders need to be comfortable saying and allowing the comment “I don’t know, but let me look into that.”
3. Hiring – Do people really have the time to be that rigorous? Hiring the best people for a job takes a clear understanding of the role (job description), a vision of how this role will impact the direction of the company (operational/strategic objectives), and time to really get to know the candidates. In Topgrading, Brad Smart outlines a rigorous process that could easily take 6+ hours per candidate. Teaching managers the reason for these three pieces and the importance of spending time to find great people is critical.
If you are a CEO trying to attract and keep the best talent, it is worth a 2-3 hour discussion with your team to explore this topic and find ways to fine tune your hiring and onboarding of people so they are successful. Some questions to consider in that process:
- How do you define A players, B players, and C players?
- What do you see as impediments in your own organization to hiring A players?
- What are practical ways you have seen to make sure A’s do not get turned into B or C players? What are you doing? What should you be doing?
Some other good reads: