Numerous studies from past economic crises show that organizations that are aligned in leadership core competencies, strategy, communication, and accountability outperform their competitors by large margins as economic conditions change.
The biggest step in alignment is to make sure that you have the right people in the right seats. Each of your employees must believe in the organization’s vision and purpose. They should have the ability to lead themselves, and the ability to have crucial conversations with their colleagues.
As a manager and leader, you need to share these traits. You must also be able to build trust and communication in your team so that you—and they—are able to move quickly to understand the new environment, and take advantage of all opportunities.
This may seem obvious, yet MOST clients and colleagues continue to complain about their people issues. In fact, the first answer I usually get to the question: “What gaps exist on your team?” is along the lines of: “They’re fine, I guess.”
The reality is that most leaders hire and then keep subpar employees far too long. Employees who don’t fully believe in the vision are not performing, and are often actively engaged in diminishing culture and trust.
Let’s take a look at some things we can do to understand, identify, and begin to solve the issue of having the right people in the right seats on our teams.
#1 Understand why leaders allow gaps to exist
When well coached with powerful analytical tools, the following rationalizations are often revealed:
- It takes so much effort and time to hire them, I just want them to work out.
- They perform, but are jerks to everyone—they are not team players.
- They don’t perform, but they are well liked.
- They have been with me a long time.
- My own fear of confrontation keeps me from addressing gaps I know exist with my employees.
- It might be my own and/or our team’s lack of communication skills with each other. Trust may be lacking.
#2 Identify the gaps
On a spreadsheet:
- Write the names of all team members in a column on the left.
- Write the letters G, W, C in three column headers.
Now, think about the answers to the following questions, keeping in mind each person’s position requirements and performance, as well as each person’s cultural fit within your organization.
Give each person a check mark under each letter if they fulfill the requirement, or a zero if they do not.
G = Does each person Get It?
This is non-negotiable. If they don’t, find a person who does.
e.g., Do they understand the vision and purpose of the team they belong to? Do they understand how the performance of this team and their own performance supports the organization? Do they routinely produce predictable results? Do they hold themselves and others accountable?
W = Does this person Want It? Again, if the individual does not Want It, they ultimately are not the right person. Find a person who does want it!
e.g., Is this industry, company, and position for them? Are they passionate about the work they are required to do? Do they lift customers and other members of the team up or bring people down?
C = Does this person have the Capacity to do It? Different from G and W, a problem of capacity can be solved if they Get It and Want It. If you believe this person can gain the capacity quickly and you’re willing to invest the time, resources and energy for her/him to do so, go for it.
e.g., Does this person have the desire, talent, skills, time, and knowledge to be successful in this position?
After rating each person on G, W, C take a hard look at the results and decide: is this the team to fulfill
your organization’s ultimate vision and goals?
Be honest with yourself. What gaps exist? One of my favorite sayings in this situation is “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Many leaders continue to allow these gaps to affect their teams for years.
#3 What to do next? Lead!
Leaders are sometimes resistant to change, but with proper coaching they can understand why it is necessary. I recently went through the G, W, C exercise with a client who quickly identified she had three people on her team with significant gaps, and was ready to move on from these three.
But first, we coached her on how to get the team aligned on vision, purpose, strategy, accountability, and desired behaviors. They then discussed and discovered how each of their actions and results powerfully affected their teams’ personal and professional goals as well as the organization’s vision.
The team then agreed on powerful goals to improve the group’s performance and each individual set a performance improvement plan. Lastly, we coached the leader on how to spend time with each of her team as an empathetic leader, coach, and mentor.
And what were the results? Two members of the team that were initially identified as “wrong people” began and continue to succeed! The other was quickly terminated and realized that this was not the career for him.
Be the manager and leader you were called to be. Make the tough decisions and get specific about what the right person for each position ultimately looks and acts like. Then lead each person up or out and your team to success!