3 Ways to be the ‘Coach Who Makes a Difference’
When a new team member joins our dealership — especially if they are replacing someone who was experienced and/or was in a leadership position — it’s a time of adjustment for everyone.
• Will a new hire be efficient at their job?
• A new hire will probably feel intimidated to a certain extent.
• Almost everyone will have to become accustomed and adjust to the new dynamics in the group.
• It will take time and effort to train a new person, and for this new team member to be quick and confident in their duties.
That’s a lot going on. As leaders, it’s our job to make sure all this happens smoothly — one of our primary responsibilities is to provide a workplace where everyone can do their best work and see the results of their actions and efforts.
As with most periods of adjustment, there is also a great opportunity. Instead of looking at the time and effort it’s going to take for a new hire to get up to speed, the Theory of 5 philosophy tells us that the best leaders focus on the fact that we could turn this person into a superstar, with the proper training, time, effort, modeling and mentoring.
So, what will it take for this potential superstar to succeed?
A Positive Work Environment — Trying to teach someone how to perform their tasks is made difficult — if not impossible — if there is chaos around them. Instead of putting their energy into learning the job, they may have to navigate office politics, encounter different people telling them the “best way” to do their job and deal with the morale of an unhappy workplace.
On the other hand, if you’ve already got your team running like a well-oiled machine, your new potential superstar can spend their time and energy on learning their role and hitting the ground running. If they know that the people around them are supportive, rather than constantly competing for every crumb, they’ll be less intimidated to ask questions, and will therefore learn more quickly. And, more importantly, they’ll want to stay.
Micromanaging — This word has a negative context because it can be used as a weapon rather than a tool. When we start a role, especially at a new workplace, we need someone to look over our shoulders and tell us how to best fit in. No matter how talented a new team member is, they’re going to need specific instructions on how to do the job at our company. Perhaps, in the future, when they excel, they’ll be able to influence growth at our company. But until then, they’ve got to learn our culture, values and the specific procedures of our dealership.
The best leaders understand how much micromanaging to use, and when to start stepping back with each new team member. In the first 30-90 days, a lot of detailed directions will probably be appreciated by most new team members. After that, we’ve probably stepped back and are answering questions but not hovering over them. If we’re still giving specific, daily, detailed instructions a year in, we’re creating an unhappy employee ready to run rather than a valued team member looking to grow. Great leaders are actively involving their talented team members in decisions to continue to grow the company.
Reward on Success, Instruct on Failure — One of the ideas my Theory of 5 mentors drilled into me is that “What gets recognized and rewarded gets repeated.” When we catch our new hire doing something right and praise them — either privately or publicly — we’re reinforcing those actions or behaviors and giving them a valuable piece of information about how to succeed in their career. When they fail — they will fall short on occasion, especially at the beginning — poor managers berate or punish them. The mission of the best coaches is to instruct them and facilitate their progress. Tell them what happened, why they didn’t get the result they were aiming for and how they can improve. By doing this, we’re not only guiding their failures into successes, but we’re building their confidence. They’ll be better prepared in the future, and they’ll know that their team leader is there to support them.
One of the best things to do is to remember what it felt like when we were new to the company. Did we crave instruction, knowing that it was the best way to improve? Did we have a “boss” who yelled at every mistake we made? On the other hand, how fondly do we remember those leaders who took us under their wings? How hard did we want to work to make them proud of us?
Let’s be the coaches we wanted when we were new to a company. That’s not just how we build successful teams; that’s how we create a legacy.