“I want to be a tool box for my team by giving them the support they need to succeed, in the end their success is my success”. –Beverly L, Leader/Executive.
I recently returned from an executive team retreat where one of the leaders shared about the complete turnaround in his sales division. He said that he was a bit embarrassed to share a lesson that he wished he’d learned long ago. He told the story of how with his team, he was focused on the numbers and results and felt upset and perhaps professionally maligned when the team didn’t reach their sales goals. He felt their poor performance was standing in the way of his success. The outcome of this attitude was resentment and discord in his relationship with his team members.
After hearing his story, I thought of what might be happening with his team. I asked him to consider the idea that while he was aware of his desire for success, had he considered their desire to experience their own success? I went on to draw his attention to the fact that he was the common denominator with all his people and their missed sales goals. I presented this thought: If you change, might there be a possibility that your team will also change? That question prompted him to go out and meet with two of his sales leaders, the ones he was having the hardest time with and asked them what their professional development goals were and how he could help them achieve the success they wanted, he even inquired about the challenges they were facing, he really wanted to know. That conversation is what turned his team around from failing to flourishing, he learned to move away from focusing on the results while neglecting the people.
This executive made a smart move based on his willingness to explore a completely new idea based on the other people, not himself. This does not mean that the key performance indicators (KPI) were not necessary or that he needed to abandon sales goals, it does mean that when you are sober and clear thinking about the value of the people on your team or in your organization you will understand that the goals is to use measures and metrics to support their success not sabotage their confidence or performance.
I know a leader who was contracted to complete the production of a large international conference, there had been two other directors before her and she was walking into a bit of a mess and an urgent deadline since the conference was just eight weeks away. She had never worked with this organization or team before and one of the first things she did was meet with each person on the team and ask them this question:
“What is your success marker and how can I support you in achieving that success?”
She wanted to know what success looked like for each team member from the hospitality team to the conference speakers, each person was asked the same question. Asking this simple question gave her the opportunity to help the team members fine tune their success markers so that they could better reach them. While she was new to the team they saw her not as their leader but their partner in producing a successful event. The result? The feedback from the attendees was that in six years of attending the conference, they rated that one the best. This is a perfect example of how supporting the team took care of the business.
What Do You Believe About Your Team?
It’s up to the leader to believe that the team wants more than to show up for work and punch a clock or collect a paycheck. They want the same thing you want, they want success, accomplishment and to know that they contributed to something wonderful and they need you to support them in that desire.
Aspiring leaders need more and better mentoring than they’re getting today. HBR article:Great Mentors focus on the Whole Person, not Just their Career
There is a paradigm shift happening in the work place where employees and team members are not content to have a place to work, they want to experience meaning, connection and to be valued for their contribution, they want to be seen as “whole people” not just someone who showed up to work for you.
There was a time when employees showed up for work, day after day settling for little or no support or acknowledgement of their value. Now, team members want to be a part of something or someone that adds purpose or meaning to the work they do. Each person on your team has a dream and a life outside of the doors of your company and God has a good plan for them too:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
Consider this, what if your job goes beyond just leading and employing people, what if it is also to help them step securely into the plans God has for them? That would seem like a reasonable position to be in since we live with an earthly calling and a Kingdom mindset. Last week, I was having lunch when a very nice young man helped me with my order. He was kind, friendly and efficient. He may have been about nineteen or twenty years old. When he brought my order, I asked if I could ask him a question that he may or may not want to answer, he said “sure”. I asked what he thought his purpose was in life. He looked at me and said that he had no idea! He was going to just keep working and somehow “fall” into it he thought. I thanked him for doing a great job and for answering my question.
What are employees looking for or what really matters to them at work? Take a look at this report pushed in 2019 on the best 100 places to work, here’s an excerpt of the top 5 companies and what team members are saying:
- Bain & Company
Company rating: 4.6
“Bain fosters a really supportive and fun work environment. At a local level, my colleagues are at once my mentors, confidantes, and closest friends.” –Bain & Company associate consultant (Los Angeles)
- Zoom Video Communications
Company rating: 4.5
“Fantastic company culture of ‘Happiness.’ You feel it every day and you can’t wait to come to work because you feel ‘cared for.'” –Zoom Video Communications mid-market account executive (San Jose, California)
- In-N-Out Burger
Company rating: 4.5
“You have great opportunities to advance both in store and corporate. They offer great training and have a great support structure.” –In-N-Out Burger Oracle database administrator (Irvine, California)
- Procore Technologies
Company rating: 4.5
“The BIGGEST pro of Procore, is the opportunity for career growth. Procore is all about making you better and letting you follow your interests.” –Procore Technologies software engineer (Carpinteria, California) Glassdoor, 2019
- Boston Consulting Group
Company rating: 4.5
“Best work and life balance, amazing benefits, amazing people and most importantly a people-first focused company. What else can you ask for?” –Boston Consulting Group IT product manager (Atlanta)