The Chair

“It’s easier to push someone off their chair, than it is to pick them up.”

On our teams we have people who excel and people who don’t. We set clear expectations, that have both behavioral and result components, and some people still don’t meet them.

Many times the temptation is to automatically assume that the problem is the associate. We say things like, “That associate was a bad hire.” or “That associate has no talent.” or “That associate just doesn’t care.”

The next temptation is to just get rid of the associate through a progressive discipline process. It’s just easier to push them off of the team than it is to deal with them.

What winning leaders understand, however, is that there are many things to investigate before such statements are made. They stop and reflect on their own behavior and look at the evidence to ensure that all gaps have been closed.

They determine whether or not the associate knows what to do and how to do it. They make statements like, “Tell me…” and “Show me…” to validate that they understand the expected behaviors and can actually perform them to the expected levels. They look to see if the associate has ever demonstrated an ability to perform the behavior in the past. They validate understanding and investigate ability.

Winning leaders know that in order to create a winning team, they must invest time and effort into developing their team members.

Winning leaders also know that they can’t stop with knowledge. They also need to determine whether or not the associate knows how important the expected behaviors are and when the behaviors need to be done. They have to discover if the associate is committed to the behaviors and committed to achieving the results.

Creating a winning team, means investing quality time and effort to ensure the associates understand and believe in the behaviors.

It takes a lot of work to move a team to take action. It takes time to identify poor performers and learn what drives their performance. Leadership takes effort.

What winning leaders also know, however, is that the effort is worth it. Putting the time into training and teaching associates allows them to perform at higher levels. Putting time into communication and prioritization allows them to embrace the importance of their actions.

Training, empowering, delegating and coaching, all take an investment of time up front, and with many associates it takes a extraordinary amount of time. But…with this incredible investment, the associates feel important, valued, and committed. Their confidence levels are high because their competence levels are high. They feel like a true part of the team and therefore feel a sense of ownership in their own results and the results of the larger team.

Once we’ve identified that we’ve taken these steps,  the choice is theirs to act. If action isn’t their choice,  and we’ve created a culture of teaching and commitment in our organization, then taking the steps to move them off of the team may be the appropriate thing for both the associate and for the leader.

Sure, it may be easier to push them off the chair, but wouldn’t it be even easier to pick them up and ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and belief in the importance of the expectations?

Then we wouldn’t have to push at all!

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