They say it’s tough at the top and entrepreneurs trying to run their own company would agree! The single most important aspect of running a business is learning how to deal with people. This is something which is anathema to many team leaders who simply can’t figure out how to cope with the daily demands posed by staff. In fact, some people give up on their dream of owning a company simply because they can’t face dealing with people on a regular basis. The stress is too much and they attempt to find a way to success without daily interaction.
Yet this is not only the easy way out, it is also impossible to build a business without dealing with people. The first thing you need to do is alter your mindset and look upon people as the very core of your company’s existence rather than an impediment. I long ago figured out that the success of E-Web Marketing was predicated on surrounding myself with the best possible team. So how did we build this healthy and happy work culture that exists today? We discovered one of the best ways to handle situations where team members were underperforming.
How to Empower Your Team to Own the Problem & Solution
Below is a video I created to illustrate how to best deal with a staff member that is consistently late and offers up a myriad of reasons for not being on time. I used the example of being on time as an analogy for other situations where a team member has not performed to the necessary standards. The approach on how to deal with the situation is practically the same.
As you will see in the video, the team leader doesn’t offer solutions and continues to question the team member until they are confident that the individual understands the concept of coming up with solutions themselves and owning their own responsibility. The team member is informed that his continued tardiness will not create a win-win situation for him and the company.
Get Involved Without Getting Involved!
Is this a contradictory statement? No! To address the issue of underperformance with a colleague, you have a few choices:
You can shout and yell at them to get their act together – Angry Leader
You can come up with solutions to their problems – Ineffective Leader
You can explain the situation, allow them to understand the severity of the problem and give them the opportunity to solve it themselves – Empowering Leader
Let’s take the issue of punctuality outlined in the video. When a team member is constantly late, it sets a bad example and affects the productivity of the rest of the team. Allowing such behaviour to continue unchecked only sends out a message that it’s okay to be late and suddenly, half your team is tardy. The angry leader will explode with rage; shout at the team member and issue threats. This does nothing but cause simmering resentment within the team and affects morale. The ineffective leader takes all responsibility out of the hands of their staff and merely gives them a platform to conjure up further excuses.
The effective leader does not issue threats nor does he tell team members how to solve the problem. Instead, he uses logic and keeps emotion out of the equation. He understands that in order for staff to act like adults, they must be treated as such. Shouting at team members and coming up with ideas on their behalf are solutions befitting children. Treat them as adolescents and they will continue on their inefficient path.
What you need to do is discuss the situation, explaining the effect the team member’s behaviour is having on the company. Through questioning, allow him to arrive at the conclusion that if he does not change the desired behavior or outcome, there will be consequences to this situation. Using our tardiness example, the staff member may look to you for solutions but you must not comply.
Allow them to run through the options available and come up with their own plan. Have faith that the team member will understand that his actions are only damaging his credibility in the eyes of his colleagues. Self-realisation acts as a powerful wake-up call and when someone knows that his reputation and perhaps his job is at stake, he will be far more likely to quickly and effectively work through solutions. If you were to provide them with a solution, what happens if the solution didn’t work? Most team members would look at you as the cause of failure; they would see you as the ineffective leader that provided them with an ineffective solution. When they are forced to act by themselves, you better believe they will not offer up excuses quite as fast! In a nutshell, give someone a chance to explain their failure and it’s more likely that they will fail.
The best team leaders see the opportunity to work with people as the best part of their job. They grow to hate long weekends because they miss the camaraderie of the workplace. It is also a sign of good leadership to compliment your team more than you reprimand them. The much vaunted 80:20 marketing rule can also be used in management. That is, you give staff 4 compliments for every reprimand. It is human nature to respond to encouragement more positively than criticism. Let’s face it, your staff is only likely to be late once every few weeks so it’s unfair to highlight their rare mistakes and not praise their general excellent work.
If you want a happy work culture, you need to earn it. While team members must be prevented from continuing a poor level of performance, they must be encouraged to improve rather than threatened. When the workplace is filled with happy, confident staff, it makes your job so much easier. Monday morning becomes your favourite time of the week because it means you get to spend a whole week with your fantastic team!
Have you had issues with your staff performance? If so, how did you handle it and what was the end result?