Month: November 2012

How Inspire Your Team

How do you get the best out of every team member? I think that first you have to recognize that you cannot “make” a great team member. The team member must have the desire to do the work necessary to become the best that they can be.

What can you do? You can inspire them. You can show them that you have confidence in them, thereby giving them an inner confidence. If they have worked hard to become the best that they can be, then they shouldn’t have fear of failure, and your job would be to show them that when they fail, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t made progress.

The beauty about sports is that it can teach you how to deal with life – and failure. Show me a person who hasn’t failed, and I’ll show you a person who hasn’t tried.

Here is a speech made by Knute Rockne to his players at Notre Dame. Not only does he inspire, but he gives them the overall strategy of how they will win the game! When I read this, even I was ready to run down the field!

“Now-w the success of any team men is based on team-play — the same as you’ve shown all year –: Sacrifice; unselfish sacrifice! These are the fellows they say are pretty good; but I think we’re better! And I think if we get ourselves keyed up to a point, and when we’re confident of that … why-y-y the results will take care of themselves.

All right, now. On the kickoff — if we receive, the zone men will drop back to the receiver and block long — that old Notre Dame style. If we kickoff — which the rest of the teams want — let’s run down fast — just as fast as you can run. And then we go on defense. And on defense — I want the center in and out of that line — according to the situation. Use your old head! And I want you guards charging through as far as you can go — on every play. Expect the play right over you every time –.

And the tackles — I want you to go in a yard and a half — and then check yourselves. Spread your feet — squat down low — and be ready with your hands and elbows, so you won’t be sideswiped. But I want the ends in there fast every play. Every play, but under control. And you men in the backfield there, I want you to analyze it before you move. If they throw a forward pass, a zone pass, wait ‘til you see the ball in the air — and then go and get it! And when we get it, boys, that’s when we go on offense. And that’s when we go to ‘em — and, don’t forget, we’re gonna pick on one last one tackle that is weak.

We’re going inside of ‘em, we’re going outside of ‘em — inside of ‘em! outside of ‘em! — and when we get them on the run once, we’re going to keep ‘em on the run. And we’re not going to pass unless their secondary comes up too close. But don’t forget, men — we’re gonna get ‘em on the run, we’re gonna go, go, go, go! — and we aren’t going to stop until we go over that goal line! And don’t forget, men — today is the day we’re gonna win. They can’t lick us — and that’s how it goes… The first platoon men — go in there and fight, fight, fight, fight, fight! What do you say, men!”

The Employee Turnover Problem

I was recently involved in a discussion about the question “Why do so many losers get hired and promoted?”  The discussion eventually led to how one reduces employee turnover.  Employee turnover is very costly, and is unavoidable.  The AMA did a survey that showed 25% of companies were ineffective at retaining high performing employees.

Employees no longer feel loyalty to their companies.  It has also been proven that financial incentives don’t prevent people from leaving.  Companies that offer bonuses and options are often the ones with the greatest turn-over.  Compensation should be competitive within the industry, but it is a bad strategy to use it to retain employees.

So, what works?  Spending time with subordinates and getting to know them.  The biggest complaint often heard is that “nobody listens to them”.   Peter Drucker said that, “Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.”  However, the one meeting that he encouraged and stated that 15 minutes was far too short a time, was the performance review.

Most companies have adopted the policy of quarterly, semi-annual or annual performance reviews.  This is far too long a period of time to wait to have a meaningful discussion with a subordinate.  Even when the performance review is held, it is usually an uncomfortable situation where surprises frequently surface.  And the policy of linking salary with this type of discussion makes it even more tenuous.

Drucker recommended frequent and relaxed conversations with subordinates, taking 30 minutes or more.  It often takes that long to build rapport and understand the problems they are facing.  Asking them questions like: What are your greatest areas of stress?  Is there anything that keeps you awake at night?, this is done before discussing the assignment and may expose problems that you can do something about.  After you develop rapport with a subordinate you can focus on the assignment that you delegated to them.  How are they doing in the assignment?  What roadblocks are they encountering? What can be done better?  Are there any skills that they feel need improving?  Do they feel like they are getting the support that they need?

The key is to ask questions, then listen to the answers and fix those things within your power.  If this was done, we’d likely have far fewer “losers”.

Hiring Best Practices

The biggest problem managers have in hiring people is that they believe they are a good judge of people. Peter Drucker said, “To be a judge of people is not a power given to mere mortals”.

The best we can do is to have a thorough diagnostic process. Candidates must be rigorously researched and tested. People should always be hired based on what they can do.

George C. Marshall had 5 steps for hiring people:

1. Marshall carefully thought through the “assignment”. What objective was this person being asked to achieve? Job descriptions last a long time but assignments change frequently.

2. Marshall always considered 3-5 qualified candidates. Then asked the question, “Does this assignment fit this person?”

3. Marshall studied the performance records of the 3-5 candidates and paid particular attention to the results they achieved, and how they were achieved. It is often the “how” that reveals their strengths.

4. Marshall always discussed their performance with former bosses and colleagues.

5. When the decision was made, Marshall made sure the new hire understood the “assignment”. The best way to that is by asking them to explain their strategy as to how they are going to be successful at the job. Then he closely monitored them for 90 days to see if their strategy was working.