Success is hard. Periodic success is actually pretty easy, most people can do it right every now and again, but really succeeding over and over again is difficult. What’s even more difficult? Leading a team to succeed. And if you are a manager, pretty much the only thing you are there for is to drive the success of your employees.
As I mentioned, in this series I will be writing about some of the things that your employees need to succeed. This post tackles the first: Ability.
I actually look at this in two different ways: personal ability & environmental ability. Both are important!
I realize that personal ability sounds like something that a middle-aged man who lives with his mother discusses with his reflection to the soundtrack of a CD box set of self-help dogma, but hear me out.
People are often put in positions that almost guarantee their failure. Optimists however, throw out phrases like “you can do anything if you set your mind to it” and similar crap on personal accomplishment. Blah blah blah.
Let’s pretend your grandma was right. What she didn’t tell you though, is that this doesn’t really apply to something that needs to be done now. If you commit a few years to learn and get the right background and training, sure – you can do anything you want.Â But what about when you are handed something you have never heard of, and by the end of the day you have to have it fixed?
When managers put people in situations where they don’t have the education or experience necessary to do the job when it needs to be done, they set their employees up to fail.
Your job (managers, I’m talking to you!) is to have the insight to know if someone can do the job you gave them when it needs to be done. And when you fail at this (eventually you will), you have to have the courage to realize it and fix it.
This is a hard! You have to stretch your employees so that they can improve, but you also have to get your work done.
Now just because the person isn’t right for the job they are doing, doesn’t mean they are a lost cause. Firing is not always the answer. Everyone has a unique set of skills, and it’s your job as the manager to make sure that their strengths are being (for lack of a better term) exploited.
In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins talks a lot about getting the right people on the bus (read the book if you haven’t already). I like to look at this as making sure they find the right seat once they are there.
Now… environmental ability. I am actually talking about resources – the things your employees need to succeed that don’t come directly from them. Mostly they come from you. Assuming you have the right person in the job, you have to make sure they have the support and tools they need to do it.
You can’t always know what they will need to succeed – but you can pay attention! If your people are coming to you saying they need another person on the team or they need more hardware or whatever, don’t brush them off (immediately) as just being whiny. More often than not, the people doing the work know better than you what it will take to succeed. If you didn’t trust their judgement, you wouldn’t have given them the job, right?
I think the thing to do is to make sure and give your people the best chance possible to succeed. Give them everything you think you would need in their position right out the gate, and see what they can do with it. If they come to you asking for more, really evaluate what they are asking for and why.
Remember, their success is your success, and your success is the mortgage payment. Really take the time to make sure that your employees have the ability to succeed – both the skills and experience, as well as the resources and tools.