At midyear we stop and reflect on where we are in relation to our goals. You will be looking at your employees’ accomplishments and talking to them about the second half of the year. If you have an employee who is not quite where you would like them to be, what do you do? Start at the beginning and refocus.
All employees are given resources like money, training, equipment, and sometimes a team of their own to lead. These resources are an investment from their owner intended to fulfill the goals of the company. If the goals are not being met then the employee is spending the resources that were provided in areas that don’t generate the expected return for the team or the company.
If you find that one of your team members is fully using every resource that you have provided but not generating the success that was expected, they are likely focused on the wrong goals. From the surface it often appears that they ignored the goals that you had for them and pursued other goals that achieved individual success but did not accomplish the purpose of your team.
Before you settle on the easy conclusion that this employee only cares about themselves, I suggest you follow the advice from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. In essence he said, “In times of success great leaders look out the window to credit others, and in times of trouble great leaders look in the mirror to evaluate what they could have done better.”
You see, people are very capable of generating success when provided adequate resources. Your job as the leader is to focus your team’s strengths on successfully accomplishing the vision of the team.
Here are four questions to review together with each employee that is not on goal:
Do you understand the purpose of the team? If you have not fully defined the purpose of the team, your team has two choices; operate with no purpose or define their own purpose. Absent a clear purpose, the employee who is geared to success, will have chosen their own purpose. You are responsible for defining the purpose of the team so each employee will seek to accomplish the same end.
“You have to know where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know if you’ve arrived,” – Denis G. McLaughlin, The Leadership GPS
Do you understand how the vision achieves the purpose? Even if you have a clearly defined purpose for your team, there are many ways to achieve it. Your vision sets the route your team will take to reach its purpose. If you don’t over communicate how your team will achieve its purpose than you aren’t communicating enough. Left undefined, the employee will define their own vision.
“The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” - Theodore Hesburgh, as quoted in The Leadership GPS
Does you understand how what you do fits into the vision? Ok, so you have a clearly defined purpose and vision for your team. There is one more level of understanding you must focus on: taking the vision down to the employee level. The employee may struggle in seeing the connection between their individual goals and the larger vision and purpose of the team. Remember, employees are success driven, without this connection they will instead focus on what they think will help achieve the team’s goals.
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who…offer a solution everybody can understand.” - Colin Powell, as quoted in The Leadership GPS
Are you achieving personal success in accomplishing the success of the team? Each person is looking for personal satisfaction in their life and in their job. For your vision to be effective you have to set it in motion and it must have an immediate impact on your team members. With each success, they need to feel that their job satisfaction is improving, along with the purpose if the team being accomplished.
“Successfully achieving your team’s purpose comes through a vision that consistently delivers small successes for each team member.” – Denis G. McLaughlin, The Leadership GPS.