During workshops and talks, I’m often asked what to do when you hire 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.
And they usually get a bit of a surprised look on their face because, of course, 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.
And by the way – you are 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 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 their leader, may not be teaching them the additional skills required to truly excel.
Either way, if you’ve hired someone who is not succeeding, the issue is yours and not them. And ultimately, it’s your responsibility 100% of the time.
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 some of you right now. You’re thinking of the “yeah but…” and a million reasons 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, early on, I’ve used them.
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 this is not a 50-50 proposition because your people can not and will not succeed without you, their leader, giving a 50% effort in helping them develop and succeed. The fact is, when it’s a 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. And by the way, 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?