A friend of mine is angry at the people he leads. They performed very poorly. In fact, they failed miserably. When he reviewed their performance with them, they were defensive. Some were even argumentative. This made my friend even more angry.
No one wants to be a poor performer and no one wants to fail. No one wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “You know what would be great today? Performing poorly and failing the people who count on me.”
Success, results, and achievements of any kind all begin with a mindset. As a leader, it is your job to provide the vision, the mission, the identity, the purpose, and the values that give people a reason to perform their best.
By sharing your vision, your mission, the identity you want for your team, and your values, you help your team recognize what’s important. You provide them with an answer to the questions, “Why? Why should I do this? Why is this important? Why does any of this even matter?”
It’s true that some will resist or refuse to adopt the mindset they need. Some may even actively work against you. But most are looking for you to lead by giving them the beliefs they need to succeed.
Most people don’t do things wrong on purpose. They don’t wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “Self? You know what would be great today? Making mistakes that cost my company time and money and embarass me in front of my peers.”
People do things wrong when they haven’t developed the skills to do things right. You cannot teach people; you can only facilitate their learning. You can provide the training, but you also have to provide the coaching that allows them to work with the material, to make new observations and distinctions on their own and gain the competencies they need.
Much of the time people fail when there are challenges for which they haven’t been trained or difficult issues that they aren’t yet sure how to deal with.
If someone is failing because they don’t know how to do something, you are responsible for that failure as their manager or leader. You have to begin with the belief that they didn’t know how to do better unless and until they prove that they did know but didn’t care enough to get it right. In this case, go back to mindset.
No one wants to be a poor performer and no one wants to fail. It’s easier to blame people than it is to give them the mindset and skill sets that they need. But blaming people does nothing to improve their results, and it is a terrible strategy. Helping people to grow is a better, more effective, and more sustainable strategy–even if it is more difficult.
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