Set Them Up To Win

A couple of weeks ago I was catching up with a former colleague of mine. She had just started with a company in a newly created position and was telling me what her on-boarding process was like. She compared the training to another company we were both associated with that let one fend for themselves.

"I don't know why these large companies don't spend the time or money on better training, Paul," she confided. Now Kathy is quite a determined woman, and has already started to pull resources together to get things aligned properly. Of all people, she will make success out of a vacuum.

But what about the non-Kathy's out there are are left to their own devices to accomplish the job? Or, how about the people who are put in positions and responsibilities that aren't ready for it? Are we truly setting them up to win? The sad reality is, that they are largely set up to fail. Even sadder, is that this epidemic is widespread.

There was a restaurant company about 15 years ago that started to rise fast. They were expanding and opening new locations with increased frequency. Their food and service style were getting rave reviews, and over the next 5 years they started obtaining a huge buzz in three metropolitan areas. Things seemed to be going great for this new foodservice superstar. But a closer look of their internal parts revealed they were a hollow shell.

Whenever the company opened another location, the new store management were never allowed in until the day before. This caused wasted production in trying to find where things were. The company never trained cashiers; they just hired them on the first couple of opening days as they filled out applications, and were trained on the fly. Cooks were hired and trained in other stores and brought in on opening day. No direction on systems, fundamentals, or even HR policies were ever given to the management team. No pre-opening team meetings or getting to know one another. Yet this company boasted that it spent more on training than any other restaurant in the industry. Needless to say, much of it came crashing down within seven years, and the company is largely defunct.

Leadership by its main definition is "the action of leading a group of people or an organization." Based on the stories above, how are these people being led? Any organization is successful when there is revenue, growth, and profit. But there is always a more deeper and sustainable success that comes from setting your people up to win.

Why should you invest in building up your team for success? If you were a baseball manager, you would do whatever was needed to get your team ready for every situation: relieving a tired pitcher, batting against a lefty, telling your pitcher he's still in control after giving up a home run, fielders being drilled on fundamentals.

In her blog Let's Grow Leaders, Karin Hurt wrote about focusing on the fundamentals and how essential this is for teams to succeed. Tanveer Naseer in his blog post on this subject wrote that leaders need to play an integral part in fostering employee's behaviors in order for company's to succeed in today's rapid-paced climate. They both strike a chord that being involved in the development of your team needs to be addressed at large.

A post by Holly Green shared some of Tanveer's thinking on setting teams up to be engaged and successful. Holly's thoughts can be seen in this spring's Boston Globe ranking of the 30 MLB managers. A look at the top dozen managers shows a tendency to clearly communicate, keep players happy and respected, develop them through focused training, and provide feedback through recognition. They are successful because they give their teams the needed resources and environment to win.

Leaders that fail to set their people up for the win build a culture of disengagement, frustration, inefficiency, and distrust that bog down the entire organization's efforts to move forward. Remember the Bad News Bears and Might Ducks movies, how dejected these teams were because of all the dysfunction of their leaders? It wasn't until those coaches started to make changes in how they prepared their teams that positive results started to happen.

So how can we set 'em up to win? Here a a few key actions:

Training on the fundamentals. As was mentioned above, Karin Hurt wrote a great post on this. Fundamentals are the essential foundation for success. Without a foundation, the building will crumble.

Increase their leadership influence. Give your people increased responsibility. Play to their strengths and those talents that are needed to develop. Show them everything they need to do to accomplish it, then be by their side. They may surpise you how quickly they learn and can ride the bike without the training wheels.

Build confidence and trust in them. This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with increasing their influence. By giving them extra responsibility, you actually say to them, "I trust you, I know you can do this." Know when they need assistance, but give them the space in which they can feel that you trust them do to their job.

Give them all the resources, support, and encouragement they will ever need. When any of my leaders have come to me with an employee issue, I almost always default to answer "Have you given them everything they need to do the job?" They will most likely answer "Yes," to which I reply, "So they know how to do the job as well as you?" After a few questions, the leader realizes that there is always more they can do to make this person successful. This has resulted in avoiding many employee work issues, and has built more solid teams because the leaders start to understand that their job is to build everyone up to master their job. Don't let people fail due to a lack of support on your part.

What are other ways you can set your people up to win? Without fail, every winning team succeeds on the development of its people. Build others up every day!!


(image via Paul LaRue)




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