Many leaders believe leading is not parenting. I hired you as an adult to do an adult job, so I should be able to treat you as an adult. The problem is, we ALL have childhood traits that carry over into our adult lives. And most likely, our working lives too.
Just because I’m an adult, doesn’t mean I don’t have bad habits that were instilled in me from a very early age. In fact, one of the things I see over and over again is a severe entitlement mentality. There’s this crazy idea in our young people that the world owes them something. Where they get that from doesn’t matter as much as what their parents didn’t do to fix that broken thought process.
As a leader, you get the great opportunity to receive those traits, or bad habits, when you hire each and every individual. (Don’t look now…but you have them as well.) So what can you do when some of those traits or habits start to surface? Well…fire them! Or…maybe we can take a different approach:
- Please sir, may I have some more? – First thing you should do is start by giving them a little grace. Many times I watch leaders lose their minds over some of the things their team members do. And when I sit down to counsel with them, I find they are doing the same things, just in different ways. The truth is that we all fall short. We all have issues. And until you come to understand that about yourself, you can’t help your team.
- Go all CSI on their stuff – You need to get to the bottom of the actual problem. Quite often you might notice a surface problem only to later discover a much deeper issue causing it. Spend some time investigating what you see going on. If you notice someone not giving you complete information on a project, is it possible they are covering up big mistakes?
- Open a vein – Oh, I’m sorry, I meant a line…of communication. Once you discover what the problem is, sit down with the individual and discuss what you are seeing. Now, more often than not, this is where I see leaders ripping heads off. Trust me when I say, that gets you no-freakin-where! You may feel better, but you didn’t solve the problem. In fact, you probably pushed it further down inside, only for it to surface on a much more important project. Have a calm and gentle conversation on what you think needs to be worked on. Treat the person with dignity, so they can recognize for themselves that there is an issue.
- Pete and Repeat were on a bridge… – Here is where most leaders get confused. You see, they didn’t get into that bad habit or trait overnight, so they sure aren’t going to get out of it overnight. This is going to be a process of you holding their arms up and helping them to truly fix the problem. You may have to meet with them on a weekly, and depending on the issue, maybe a daily basis to see how they are doing. And not just to see, but to be there in any way possible to help. Think of how you would want to be treated.
- WOOT WOOT! – As you see progress, no matter how small, take the time to point out what they are doing right. We as leaders have no issue pointing out what our team is doing wrong, so take this opportunity to tell them you are seeing a change and how thankful you are that they are winning. Praise what you want repeated.
Some situations make take months to see real progress. Some may be fixed quickly because the team member didn’t know they had the habit. Either way, you have to decide what’s most important to you. Roll up your sleeves and get in there, or sit on the sidelines mad and waiting for them to fix themselves.
Question: Have you ever had a leader spend time working with you to make you a better team member?