The first interview went fairly well. He was polished, well spoken, and said many of the right things. He talked about his prior experience and his desire to be part of something that he helped build. In addition to his skillset, he clearly had something inside him that intrigued me but didn’t exactly fill an immediate void. As we shook hands that day, I knew we could be friends, but was unsure if we would be colleagues.
The next few weeks brought a surge in new business, which increased our needs for additional employees. After a few short follow up conversations, we both agreed to take the leap and have him come on board.
Truth be told, we got off to a slow start together. What I initially thought the business was getting in a new teammate didn’t exactly turn out as I envisioned. He appeared to be smart and capable enough, but he was slow at grasping our quickly changing business. He made both simple and complex errors daily and after a month the team began to question my decision to bring him onboard. I knew something had to be done, but it wasn’t what you are probably thinking.
I turned to one of my favorite business leaders Peter Drucker: “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
I knew he had a higher ceiling in him and it was my job to help him raise it up. It was clear he could add value but had to find different ways for him to show it. I came up with 5 ideas leaders can use get any employee to add value regardless of your business:
- Demand a Positive Attitude. There is one thing every human can control everyday – our attitude. Regardless of tenure or importance to a company every employee can bring down moral by having a bad attitude. By demanding a new or struggling employee to bring a positive attitude everyday he or she, at the very least, will improve the culture.
- Provide the Passion. Most people think passion is something that can only come from within. I scoff at this notion. I didn’t know I was going to be obsessed with online learning or improving other people’s skills until those opportunities presented themselves. Provide opportunities you believe will light a passion. That passion will, in turn, improve performance.
- Exemplify Personal Drive. Most employees don’t wake up with the burning desire to have the drive of Gary Vaynerchuck, Michael Jordan, or Mark Zuckerburg. By providing examples of hard and efficient work, employees will slowly begin to follow. Be careful of talking about “how hard your work” to your team, it’s a turn off. Just put in the time and effort and watch your team respond.
- Stir the Brain Pot. One easy way to improve employee performance is to get them to work on their own ideas. Having weekly “brainstorming” or creative meetings and asking team members to bring new ideas to the table ensures team members aren’t just doing their day-to-day activities. They are using their creativity to think up new ideas for business development and growth. Remember, just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you always have to be the one with all the ideas.
- Test Execution. Our brains and abilities are like muscles. They can be strengthened with practice. Provide opportunities for practice that will lead to small victories and visible progress. Tasks or projects that can be translated into some form of business results are the most valuable.
With these ideas in place, not only has my new team member turned it around, he is entrenched in many parts of our business. It’s been amazing to see his transformation.
The next time you question if someone is “cut out” for a role, use these 5 ideas to help them raise their ceiling to it’s highest level. If they’re up for the challenge, you’ll see an improvement in their performance and the value they add to your team.