An instruction manual for leaders

Have you ever had one of those days when you wished you had all the answers on how to deal with your employees?  One of those weeks that got you to the point you said “Why can’t these people come with an instruction manual??”  Well, while that manual has not been written yet, I do have 3 easy steps that you can follow that will make life a lot easier for you!

1- Hire the best.  Does this mean that you have to spend a bundle of money to get the highest paid, highest qualified person in your industry?  Not necessarily.  The best candidate may be the one that has the greatest amount of determination, loyalty, attention to detail, or communication skills.  They may be the person that gets a B+ in their technical skills, but an A+ in their ability to bring teams together and drive projects to completion.  I’ve worked with many people that did not have a degree or years of technical training, but had the best work ethic and ability to learn.  This made them invaluable.  The key is to fight the urge to hire the “right now” candidate instead of the “right” candidate.  Far too many companies have paid the price for hasty hiring decisions and later suffered the consequences of these hires.  A poor hiring decision will always prove to be more costly than taking extra time to make the right hire due the potential impact on culture, lost productivity, (re)recruiting costs, and customer impact.  People are an investment in your company’s success.  Make a good investment.

2- Treat them well.  Once you have hired the best, make sure you have created an environment in which they can thrive.   Don’t hire great people and give them limited resources and limited support.  Don’t hire ambitious, creative individuals and put them in a box.  It’s not always about pool tables and onsite fitness centers (which are great), but it IS always about removing the barriers that cause frustration and ineffectiveness every day that they report to work.  Listen to them, and respond to those needs.  You can’t give them everything, but what is in your control and within reason is owed to them.  Is their clock-in process too difficult?  Are they forced to run reports no on looks at?  Are they working on machines that make more scrap parts than good parts?  True, some of it may have a price tag attached, but so does high turnover and low productivity.  All of this also applies to your B and C players as well.  They also play a critical role in helping your business to run smoothly, and sometimes are the informal leaders that do things you will never realize until they are gone.

3- Repeat.  This is a never-ending process.  Keep hiring stronger and stronger people.  Raise the bar.  Improve your processes by allowing your team to give you insight into what is working and what is not.  Listen constantly.  Pick up on queues from your team to get a feel for when the culture is shifting in a direction that is not what you want.  Stay ahead of it- be creative about ways to keep people engaged and motivated.  They are your greatest investment in your organization.  When they shine, you shine, and your customers/clients are pleased.

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