Positioning Your Team in a New Environment

Hello friends,

Being a manager can be tough. There are many rewarding and great moments, but it can be hard to lead people, help them grow, and keep moving the business forward. Throw a pandemic on top of that, and things get even more complicated!

Now that so many companies are working in person, managers are restarting development and mentorship conversations and observing people working more. This can lead to the realization that within the last year, job responsibilities, roles, business goals, and even personal and team motivations may have changed. Jim Collins reminds us that it’s important to have the right people on the bus, but even more so, to have them in the right seats. So what do you do when you find yourself with people who are possibly in the wrong seats?

How often do you say to someone ‘I’m going to hold you accountable’? With that statement, you’ve just labeled that person as someone who’s not trustworthy. You’ve given them a label that they live down to. However, when you say, ‘You know what, I know I can trust you, you’ve got a track record with me and I know I can count on you to get this done. Now, let’s partner to figure out a way for that to happen.’ You’re giving them a label to live up to, which makes them more likely to rise to the occasion.

Recently, I attended a leadership conference where I heard from an orchestra conductor who was also a teacher. He told everyone in his class that they were going to get an ‘A’ and he asked them to write out what it would take to earn that grade.

Once they had a plan drawn up, he worked with them to accomplish everything on their list. He labeled all of them as ‘A’ students and gave them a goal to live up to. In turn, the students rose to the occasion because they knew he believed in them.

Even with labeling up, if the employee isn’t in the right role, it might not be enough to drive success. So what do you do when you start to realize someone on your team may not be the best fit for their role anymore? It starts with asking a few questions such as, ‘Did I misidentify them as a fit for this role? Are they not performing the same as they used to? Has their passion changed?’

During times in my career when I faced these types of situations, I’d often stop and think, ‘If this was my son or my daughter, what would I do for them in this situation?’ As parents, we want to help our kids be successful, but sometimes that means having tough conversations. The same applies to managers who truly care about their employees. Often those tough conversations stem from being honest when you think about questions like, ‘Is this person in a job they are not going to grow into?’ or ‘When giving their best, are they still the right fit for this role?’ These are hard questions to ask, especially when you know the answer can lead to an even harder conversation.

My approach has always been to try and find the place where someone could be eminently successful, even if it wasn’t within my team or even in my organization. This process can be a little uncomfortable, but ultimately when you care for your employee as a whole person, your desire is to help them be truly successful, even if it comes at the cost of your own comfort. Sometimes I thought I was helping someone by keeping them in their role. I thought this was helping them learn and grow, but it was actually robbing them of the ability to truly utilize their talents, realize their potential, and be successful.

As we reassess business goals, personal goals, and continue development and mentorship conversations, I want to leave you with a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. When I am talking to my team, what type of label am I giving them? Am I giving them a label to live down to or live up to?
  2. When your employee is giving their best, are they the right fit for the role? Or are you trying to fit a round peg into a square hole? What seat on the bus will allow them to thrive?
    As always, I would love to know how you answered those questions. Share your thoughts by replying to this email or tagging me on social media.

David Salyers
Founder, Spark A Revolution


Previous Newsletters

February 2019