Page 15 - WV811 2022 issue 4
P. 15

              Is Your
Company a
By Larry Cole, PhD. TeamMax
                                                                                                                                                                                      Let’s begin our discussion by asking you to answer the following questions about your damage prevention
1. Do you want your team members
to be mediocre?
2. Do you want your team members
to be complacent?
3. Do you want your team members
to be average? (Remember average is the best of the least and least of the best.)
My guess is that you answered “No!” to each of the above. Am I correct? Who in his right mind would want a low or mediocre performing team?
So let’s consider another question: Who is responsible for helping team members have the knowledge and skills to be successful? Correct. Supervisors. Whoops! Some supervisors have told me that employees should have the necessary knowledge and skill sets as a condition of their employment. I agree that would be nice. We also know the difficulty of finding high- performing talent.
So that leads us to wondering about those employees who are underperforming. Are you a supervisor? If so, I have another question for you to ponder and
I want you think about it before responding. Are you willing to
accept the responsibility of teaching your employees, including your underperformers, how to be successful? Pause ... think ... now answer.
I’ve asked thousands of supervisors to identify the number one responsibility of being a leader. Most
of them respond with such phrases as “get things done,” “manage the assets,” “work safely” or other descriptions
of their technical responsibility. Very few mention developing their people assets – which is their number one responsibility. If you think about it for a moment, people constitute your team’s resource with the greatest potential to develop.
Let me tell you a story that
I’ve heard more times than I can remember. A supervisor complains about the performance of one of his employees. When I’ve asked, “What was the employee’s response when
you discussed it with him?” What would you guess the answer is? “Well I suppose I should talk to him!”
Whose fault is it that the employee is not performing to the expected level in this scenario? When a supervisor points a finger at the employee, consider the fact that three are pointed back at him. A supervisor is not helping anyone by not having that conversation.
It’s confusing to understand why
a company would not emphasize developing its people when considering the fact that people drive the company’s success. The fact is people must improve before the company improves. If you want a first class company, you must have first class people.
So where do you go from here? First, if you’re a supervisor you must embrace the responsibility to help your people succeed. Second, that means ensuring that your people know the results expected to achieve peak performance both in terms of their technical responsibilities as well as interpersonal performance. Note I said results instead of listing
responsibilities. Of these two, defining technical expectations is the easier to discuss. For some reason, talking about interpersonal skills is a “sacred cow” and as such, this most critical subject is usually avoided. When that happens, everyone loses.
Third, people need a continuous stream of feedback to guide their performance. You don’t want them to be the blind hog that luckily finds the acorn. You want to help that hog fatten up to reach market weight. Providing feedback is critical for employees to become peak performers. Providing feedback is simply an accountability tool. Unfortunately, instead of
viewing accountability as a teaching opportunity, many supervisors perceive it to be a negative event. There is nothing negative about helping people to succeed. Receiving feedback from
a supervisor shows employees that they are cared for. We can look at this situation from another perspective.
Is a supervisor helping anyone when he allows an employee to continue performing at an undesirable level and not intercede? Obviously not.
Take a poll among members of your damage prevention team sometime and ask if they want to be taught
to be successful. My guess is you’ll like the results of your poll. Your damage prevention team is really a “schoolhouse.”
Larry Cole, Ph.D., is founder of TeamMax a consulting company that helps people work together. Please send questions and/or comments to Larry at
2022, Issue 4 West Virginia 811 • 13

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