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We hired smart, capable people and we can learn from them, right?  It’s amazing how many times I’ve met with senior leaders who aren’t sure about the people on their team.  It’s so easy to assume we know all about someone we’ve had on our team for many years.  And yet I repeatedly watch leaders in our workshops discovering each other…after years of working together.  That’s a great benefit of a workshop as I see increased trust, openness and positive intentions be a responsible leader.

At the end of our Leadership Excellence workshops we do an exercise on feedback.  We talk about the expression “talking behind someone’s back.”  In this exercise, we tape a piece of cardboard to each participant and have everyone in the room write something they admire, like and appreciate about this person, on their back.  It has lead to smiles, tears, shyness, humility and every reaction in between.  What I have learned is that there are many people at all levels of organizations feeling underappreciated and in need of positive feedback.

Now you may be thinking, I hired someone I thought was smart and capable and they just weren’t a fit, or worse, they were a complete disappointment.  Considering that many studies have shown that the average hiring manager “gets it right” 14% of the time, it’s understandable that you would have been disappointed.  When I was a hiring manager in the hospitality business we were told that turnover in our industry averaged 300% in hotels, in particular.  There are many reasons for this and I would like to focus on the ones you might share.  We usually had many resumes, did multiple interviews and had demanding schedules.  Some of us were trained in the interview process and some weren’t.  What I have learned since is that 14% fit to a job is common across the board.  The good news is, that I’ve since learned is that there are tools to increase the fit to a 80% success in getting the right person on the bus and the right person in the seat.

So let’s say we use those tools and we did a great interview that resulted in smart, capable people hired onto our team.  We are responsible to a) hire well b) train or coach well and then work with an employee to develop their capabilities.  In other words, we need to appreciate these people and support their growth. This is good for us as leaders, for the employee and for the organization.   If we truly want to inspire and lead people, we need to take responsibility to get the right people in the position that fits their natural skills and abilities and then to coach them toward success as they define it within our organization.

All well and good, and how easy is it?  Some people are great at interviews and we may have felt hoodwinked when they got into the job.  Others were not that good at interviews and we gave them a chance anyway, much to our delight.  Then we go back to the people who are steady performers.  Let’s make sure we use all the tools at our disposal to find the right “fit” in the first place and then it will be much easier to encourage, lead, coach and appreciate the smart, capable people on our teams.  After all, being a great leader means developing the next great leader!


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