Oh come on, don’t pretend you’re shocked! Most of us have thought this at least once in our careers. You don’t have to admit it out loud. And, if this thought has never even crossed your mind, I want to meet you, because either you are truly exceptional, or you’ve only been in a leadership position five minutes!
So now we’ve admitted to ourselves that this terrible thought has occurred to us once or twice, let’s look at what we can do to solve the problem. Because let’s face it, no leader wants employees who suck.
The first thing you need to know is that it’s all your fault. I know. I’m sorry. That’s not what you wanted to hear was it? Its so easy to go around blaming the idiots that work for you for all the stresses in your life. But as a leader, that’s simply not acceptable. If your people are not performing, 90% of the time its because of your poor leadership.
And the great thing is, if its all your fault, you are the only person who can fix it and thats the good news!
So let’s look at some of the reasons why and see how we can solve them.
1. You hired people who are like you. It seems like a great idea at the time – this person really gets you and your vision for the organisation, they’re already thinking that way anyway, they’re already on your wavelength, hiring them is a no brainer. WRONG! Your team needs people who complement you, not who are just like you. You need people who think differently, who challenge you, who can do the things you can’t. Imagine a football team where everyone was a great goal scorer. They might get on really well and have a lot of fun, but they probably wouldn’t win a lot of games. Does your team feel like that sometimes? Lots of creative ideas but nothing gets finished? Immaculate systems and people hiding behind their computer screens and never communicating? Your team needs a full spectrum of talent to get things done. Make sure you hire people who are not like you, they will do the jobs you can’t and life will be much less stressful.
2. You assumed they knew what was expected of them. That’s great if you run a firm of psychics, but in the business world you need to be absolutely clear about what your expectations are and you need to be willing to have conversations with people every single day until you are confident they are absolutely clear as well, and even then have those conversations every day so they never forget. There is no room for making assumptions in leadership. If you’re one of those leaders who like to let people figure it out on their own then I can pretty much guarantee you will never find the people you need unless you’re hiring at a tarot convention. As a leader you can never assume that your people know what’s going on in your mind. Yes, it might be obvious to you, but if they’re not performing, it clearly isn’t obvious to them and that’s not because they’re useless. Its because you as their leader have not explained it clearly enough.
3. You don’t give feedback. How do you expect your teams to perform if you don’t give them feedback? And you need to tell them what they’re doing well at least as often as you tell them what they’re doing wrong. Many of us find it quite easy to give positive feedback, it feels good to tell someone they’re doing well. But giving negative feedback can be really challenging and the main reason for that is we leave it too late. We avoid the issues until they become really serious and then let rip. No surprise we dread giving negative feedback. But what if we changed the way we thought of it? There’s no positive or negative feedback, its all just feedback. When its about something going wrong its time to congratulate ourselves on finding a great opportunity to learn a better way. When it’s about something that was done well its time to celebrate and congratulate ourselves on some great lessons well learned.
4. You’re not a people person. Well what on earth are you doing leading people then? When you accept a leadership position its your responsibility to become a people person. And yes, it might be hard at first. People are challenging and unpredictable, infuriating and needy. And its your job as a leader to deal with all of this. No excuses. And there are some fantastic resources out there to help you. Emotional Intelligence training is probably the best known and most effective, and there are some wonderful books you can read as well.
5. You don’t train them. I’m always amazed at companies who complain their people are underperforming and in the same breath say they don’t want to invest in training them. “Training is too expensive” they say. “We hire people who are fully trained” they say. “What if we train them and they leave?” they say. These are all valid arguments but they don’t stack up. A survey done in the UAE a few years ago found that employee turnover costs a business on average 150% of their annual salary and that goes up to 200% as you go up the levels in the organisation. Training is way less expensive than constantly having to hire new people. If you hire people who are fully trained they are going to be expensive and what’s more, they are going to expect to continue developing. If you don’t support their development they won’t hang around long. And even if they are fully trained at the function you hired them for, they will still need training in the way your organisation does things or they will be floundering around trying to figure it out for themselves, wasting you time and money and probably upsetting a few customers along the way!
6. You’re a rubbish leader! That’s OK. Most people are when they start out. But you need to be prepared to learn and to invest in your own leadership development. Most people spend more money on the outside of their heads than they do on the inside and as a leader you can’t afford to be “most people”. Leadership development is self development, its a skill that can be learned and practiced and fundamentally its a choice. Are you prepared to choose to do what it takes to become an exceptional leader? If you aren’t, then you can expect a lot of stress and possibly a fairly short career. If you are, you are starting the most wonderful, fulfilling journey of your life.
If any of this resonates with you we can help! Get in touch and we can come and create you some great solutions. You people don’t have to suck and you don’t have to be stressed!