During workshops and talks I’m often asked about what to do when you’ve hired someone who just isn’t measuring up.
Sometimes people actually tell me the person they hired is an idiot.
I tell people don’t be so hard on yourself. They get a bit of a surprised look on their face because they didn’t intend to be hard on themselves. They intended to point out that in their wisdom they, apparently for some reason, purposefully hired an idiot.
The first problem of course is thinking that one of your people is an idiot. Once one of your people knows your low opinion of them they are unlikely to exceed your low expectations. Never ask or expect less from your people than you need or want them to deliver.
I believe that leadership comes with certain responsibilities. If you actually have the audacity and courage to accept the mantle of leadership then you must also be willing to accept the wide range of responsibilities that come with it.
The responsibility to put people in their strengths zone is one example. If you’ve hired someone and they are not getting the job done there are only two possibilities.
You’re not going to like either one.
The first one is that you simply hired the wrong person. Yes, you simply hired the wrong person. If they truly cannot get the job done then why did you hire them? If they didn’t have the skills, knowledge, and experience to successfully complete the requirements of their role then why in the world did you hire them? You must have just hired the wrong person.
The second possibility is that you did hire the right person but you’re not giving them the tools they need to succeed. You, as a leader may not be teaching them the additional skills required to truly excel. Your may not be transferring your additional knowledge and experience to them.
Either way, if you’ve hired someone who is not succeeding it’s your responsibility. When you accept 100% responsibility for the success of your people you begin to grow as a leader.
When you accept 100% responsibility for the success of the people you’ve hired you’ll no longer be so quick to dismiss them with a “they’re an idiot” flick of your tongue. You will stop “spending time on” and start “investing time with” your people.
Now, let me stop a good number of you right now. You’re thinking of a million “excuses” right now why you can’t be held 100% responsible for the success of your people. I’ve heard them all 100’s of times, heck, I’ve used them dozens of times.
Let me also tell you this: if you allow yourself those excuses then the chances of one or more of your people failing goes way way up! Don’t tell yourself that you’ll accept 50% of the responsibility but “they” have to give 50% too. I’ll guarantee you that it’s not a 50-50 proposition because your people will not succeed with you, their leader, giving a 50% effort in helping them develop and succeed. The fact is, when it’s a 100-100 proposition then your people have a great chance at success.
Leadership is a big deal. It’s not just a position, title or concept. It is real, it comes with serious consequential responsibilities. If you can’t handle them, or are unwilling to accept them, then you should reconsider your role as a leader.
There is no harm in choosing not to lead, leadership is not for everyone. The harm comes from accepting the challenge of leadership without the commitment to accept the responsibility of a leader as well.
Leaders can make excuses or they can make more leaders. They can’t do both. What are you making?