I think I blew it. After the melting of what felt like 17 feet of snow, I can now see my yard. Brown patches and dead spots pepper the lawn everywhere. The bushes and plants in front of my house are crushed and damaged from the weight of the two blizzards that wreaked havoc on my local area over the past winter. I should have prepared. I knew that I should have prepped the yard, but I didn’t. I should have aerated or de-thatched to pull up the dead grass and provide space for the nutrients from the winterizing fertilizer (which I didn’t lay down, of course) to do their job. I should have trimmed back the plants and bushes to give them a stronger base to support the loads of snow and ice, but I didn’t. I left them unprepared for the rough times they had to face and now they, and I, will pay the price. My wallet will pay the price at the home improvement store and my back will pay the price as I begin a lengthy restoration.
Do we do this same thing to our teams? Do we leave them unprepared to face an unknown “winter” of their own?
With our lawns, as well as with our teams, we need to either prepare or repair.
Preparation is key to providing our teams with a solid foundation to face any hardships or challenges they may face. Preparing them with skills and knowledge takes work upfront, but with that initial work comes a career loaded with highly skilled performers who minimize the work we need to do later.
We need to start by understanding their base knowledge and transferrable skills that they bring to us from their past experiences and then build upon that base with new information, tactics, and extensive practice that build habits in their roles. We cannot set them free until they can repeatedly perform their duties to our level of expectations. It must become a habit for them so they, and we, can feel confident in their performance.
With competence comes confidence. Practice makes perfect and with perfection comes a sense of dominance in performance. We must give each team member this feeling of perfection for what they bring to our team each day, and we do this by preparing them fully for what lies ahead.
If we don’t prepare them, they will run into far more obstacles and struggles than they may be able to handle. They will be unable to tackle the challenges without our assistance and then we will spend additional time and energy in repairing the damage that will inevitably result.
The damage that is created by an unprepared associate will be felt by all areas of our business. The customer will feel it and, as a result, our sales will feel it. Our other team members will feel it and, as a result, our team’s morale and culture will feel it. Our unprepared associate will feel it and, as a result, we may be looking for a replacement and have to start the whole hiring and training process over again. Of course, we will feel the damage too. We will have to work hard to repair all of the damage to our relationships with our customers, our staff, and our associate, as well as to our business as a whole.
We spend countless hours and thousands of dollars on our team members. We spend money recruiting, hiring, and training. Where we need to spend additional time is in their preparation for the future. We need to give them the skills, knowledge, strength, and confidence to face what lies ahead as we set them free to fulfill their role on our team. We cannot short-cut this process. It takes time and constant, focused effort up front.
Just like our yards, we need to think about what lies ahead and prepare our team for a possible long, cold and snowy winter or we will be living a season of long cold repair.