My first take at multi-unit and multi-team management was an interesting and arduous one. One of the things I struggled with the most was getting everyone on my team to march in the same direction and to the same beat. It took me about 5 months to finally find a technique that allowed me to get the most out of my teams and have them all heading down the same path. I am going to share some of the tidbits I learned on that 5 month journey. Let’s start with some words from one of my favorite “do-ers”.
Dale Carnegie is quoted saying, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one.”
Now, you may think, “People aren’t always that interesting”. Sure, that may be the case. But this is also a belief, an opinion, and you tend to see what you want to see.
Here’s a PROTIP: Spend time talking to your team members about their lives. I start every one of my weekly, 30 minute one-on-ones with, “So tell me about your weekend. What did you do?” People love to tell stories about themselves. You don’t even have to say a word. Let them do the talking. Just remember to actively listen.
Let me give you an example: The day I took over my first district of twenty managers, I received a call from a young Store Manager who wanted to put in his two weeks. He had found a job in the home insulation business and wanted to leave his current position with us. I told him that I would be at his store in under an hour and we could talk about this new opportunity.
He was so surprised about my willingness to get to know him that he was on pins and needles during our first get together (I am sure he was also nervous because I was the new district manager ready to spread my tyranny to the masses). I got to his store and I took him out to lunch. I asked him to tell me about himself: dreams, hobbies, family, anything and everything.
We talked for about two hours, and at the end of the conversation, he retracted his two weeks’ notice and became one of my most loyal and trusted team members. I never once asked him to come back, not once asked him to reconsider his decision to leave. All I showed him was that I cared about him and that I was genuinely interested in his success. That one conversation changed his life and I won an extremely loyal team member.
Stop reading. Let that sink in. Read it again if you have to.
The way you can lead someone to finding their true potential is by asking questions and discovering how their brain works. By winning your team members over using the very simple “have them talk about their lives” trick, you will have more traction when delivering messages, plans, and directives. Without this, your ideals and your vision will never reach fruition and you’ll be stuck writing scathing emails and saying things like,
“Well if you don’t want to do it, I’ll find someone who will.”
I am sure you all have known someone who said, “I don’t care if they like me or not.”
How did you feel about that person? Did they get their results by hook or by crook? Browbeating is intolerable and has no place in your business. I am not advocating that you become best friends with all of your team members. If you want them to react to you in a positive light, get the needed work done and progressively grow their talents, you will need to win their loyalty and respect. By using the techniques outlined above, you will have better relationships with your team and in doing so have greater success.
Do you have any experience with management either in the driver seat, the passenger seat, or strapped to the roof of the bus? Let us know some things you've learned regarding leadership in the comments below.