Leading your people not by 'WHAT' they are - but by 'WHO' they are

Why behaviours and attitudes are the foremost reasons to recruit and promote, not qualifications and time-served! And why leaders making this common mistake have struggled to manage teams and individuals effectively?

Until now!

Many leaders spend most of their working days dealing with frustrating issues from teams and individuals. They are constantly being pulled from all sides by underperformance, de-motivation, poor productivity, customer dissatisfaction and some employees lack of ability to perform without supervision, or even more frustrating, employees constantly expecting their questions to be answered and therefore not taking ownership of their roles.

Why is this a constant challenge for leaders?

To answer that question we need to understand a key reason why the above frustrations happen in the first place.

For as far back as I can remember most hirings and promotion decisions have been made primarily based on the skills, experience and qualifications of an individual. They have a first class degree in X, they are a qualified Y, and they have been working in the role of Z for N amount of years. They must, therefore, be the right person for the job!

It makes business sense! Or does it?

For decades this has been the main criteria used when selecting a person for a role. The reasoning behind this is because the perceived measures for somebody to actually deliver and perform at a high level has been drummed into us since childhood: 'If you don't work hard at school and get good results you will never amount to anything, you have to stick at a role for a number of years to show stability and commitment' (even if you hate the job), etc, etc.

'Shelf Help'

You only have to think about the number of people you know who have cupboards full of books covering courses they have completed, studies they have undertaken, box sets of business DVDs and framed certificates on the walls. BUT they have never utilised any of them?

They believe this knowledge will automatically propel them to success, but without the drive to do anything with these skills it's all been a waste of time and money. The 'Shelf Help' industry are the only winners (they have drive and ambition), they thrive on the misguided belief that knowledge is everything...

Now of course I am not saying that the ‘shelf help’ aficionado and all the students that completed their degrees, diplomas and other awards did not have to work very hard and be fully committed to gain them, of course they did, BUT that drive does not automatically translate/transfer to the workplace, it was a means to an end, most breathe a sigh of relief and say; ‘thank (whoever) that’s over’, I can relax now and just wait for the offers to come flooding in.

In a lot of cases these individuals have completed their parent’s ambitions or fulfilled the expectations drummed into them since junior school, but was it their dream, their ambition? probably not. Lets face it most people don’t know what they really want until they are well into the thirties or forties.

Study alone does not maketh the man (or women), the workplace is a completely different environment, where drive and ambition should be a full-time commitment, it has to be what the person really, really wants (the Spice girls were driven), not just something to get out of the way (job done).

Of course their circumstances may change as they get older; marriage, children, mortgage, and this possible could re-motivate them, but again is it for the businesses sake or for their own? probably just the need for extra money...

So our minds are programmed around the importance of qualifications and experience. We have this presumption of; 'How can anybody without the right bits of paper and experience possibly be successful'?

As Thomas Hardy once quoted: “Experience is as to intensity and not as to duration”. In other words, it's not how long you been doing something, it's the intensity and determination to which you do it. Somebody may have performed a role for 20 years but may never have performed it well. We’ve all met them (frequently, in my role as a consultant).

Experience is a commodity that has been earned over a period of time, however like all things in life some experiences are good some not so! And of course in today’s fast moving business environments yesterday’s experience is doomed to tomorrow’s history books!

So consider this, why are some of our highest achievers in the UK, who left school at 15 or 16, devoid of any qualifications, tried many things (failed at quite a lot) but then have gone on to succeed at a very high level, running some of the largest companies in the United Kingdom, and how pray have they done it? People like Sir Alan Sugar, Simon Cowell (love him or hate him), James Caan, Mike Ashley (not so popular at the moment), etc, etc.

There is a very simple answer to this: they consistently demonstrate positive mindsets, drive, self-motivation, determination and persistence, no matter what! These are personal behaviours and have nothing to do with qualifications, experience and timescales.

And it's not just entrepreneurs who show these traits, look inside your own organisations, recognise those behaviours? The ‘star performers’ those that go above and beyond, and don't always expect to be rewarded for it. They exist, yet so many of these people are passed over as early as at the interview stage (if they make it that far, and are not confined to the wastepaper bin because of what's missing on their CVs, i.e. experience and qualifications).

They can also be ignored when businesses are looking for a person to promote internally, promoting others instead of the real performers. Those others who have been with the company for a long period of time or have the requisite qualifications and skills, have been made promises of progression in the past (for all the wrong reasons) or even worse, because they simply want to keep them happy, even if they are not performing at a high level in their existing roles!

56% of hirings and 65% of promotions are unsuccessful, in terms of the employees not reaching their managers and the businesses overall performance expectations, why? Because of the copious reasons I have listed above.

So, let’s get back to leaders having to manage and lead these people effectively. Well, it's very hard, if people aren't driven or motivated, simply in the wrong job or position, or just marking time. It is a constant up-hill battle, unless managers start to adapt their approach, and get the most from these people.

Easier said than done mate! ‘how can I have a proven method of successfully hiring and promoting the right people and ultimately making my role as a leader more productive and focused, planning instead of problem solving for others’? And secondly, how can I manage my existing core employees and maximise their performance by understanding their behaviours and motivations?

I will answer that in two parts, first and foremost, you need to be able to identify your ‘star performers’, your ‘average performers’ and your ‘under performers’, secondly you need to understand their mindsets, behaviours and drivers. Next you need to fully understand your preferred leadership style, step out of your comfort zone and start the process of 'learning' other styles. Finally, you need to adapt and flex your leadership methods by taking a pro-active approach instead of a re-active fire fighting one, as each employee needs a different tactic from you.

Is this guy for real? I hear you ask, shout, scream!

Yep, I know that sounds like a lot of asks! But what if there was a tool that could do most of that evaluation for you and also support your correct choice of management styles to fit?

Which brings me to my second answer and solution:

Let me introduce you to PRISM Brainmapping, a Neuroscience based online assessment tool that has been certified at 96.5% accuracy, it works across your business, not just with Performance Management, Recruiting and promotion Decisions, but in all aspects of your business needs from Team Assessments, Cultural Alignment, 360 Feedback and Talent Management, to name but a few of its multiple functions.

So how does PRISM differ from other profiling tools? Simply it measures behaviours not skills and ability, not only peoples natural preferred behaviours, but behaviours in different scenarios, under stress and during change for example, whilst also identifying a match (or not!) of individuals to your businesses strategy, culture and teams.

Skills can always be taught, but behaviours are who we are, they can change and adapt in different circumstances and they can be developed (if people want to). Ultimately, they are what drive our/their performance not a piece of paper, or years of service under our belt.

Our PRISM Leadership and Team Management seminars take you through how this unique system can help and support you when managing individuals and teams, as well as giving you the essential tools and skills to flex and adapt your style when dealing with the different types of behaviours and motivations in your teams, thereby improving overall performance and freeing up your time to focus on critical business needs.

Focus on WHO they are, not on WHAT they are! Those that surprise you, exceed your expectations, and do it with a smile (of sorts) on their faces…

For further information on how PRISM can help your organisation achieve its strategic plans through your existing employees or when recruiting new people, or if you would like to attend one of our seminars, please contact: info@leadingnationaltraining.co.uk or telephone: +44 (0) 7966 570421

Copyright Philip Peters 2016.

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