You’ve got the four coins in your pocket. The quarter, the dime, the nickel, and the penny all represent the diversity that you have on your team. Think about this. What roads did those coins travel before coming into your possession? One thing is for sure … all likely had different routes before crossing your path. Think of all the ways they could have been used, saved, bought something meaningful, bought something frivolous or even illegal. They could have been misplaced, been forgotten in the wash, driven over, lost out in the weather, dropped in machinery, stored in a drawer, tub, car console, etc. If those coins were alive, what would be the implications of those experiences? If those coins had feelings, habits, or thoughts, how would all of those be affected by their experiences?
The people we work with are no different. Think about the woman who works in accounting … she dresses the part – most of the time and performs her job at an average level – most of the time. But if you get to know her, you will find that she has been told all her life that she doesn’t really matter – she’s a nobody. Or the gentleman on your outside sales team that is aggressive, almost domineering. Down deep it is very possible that he is striving for something that is missing – and he has been on a journey for a long time to find that something to fill the void. Still there is another person who offices a few doors down from you. She barely talks in meetings. You would barely notice her except that her work is always completed as such a high level that she shows up at the top of several metrics each week, month, and year. But ask her a few deeper questions and you find that she worked 2 jobs as a single mom for 5 years – 5 really tough years! Then, she landed this job – one that adequately pays the bills by itself – and she loves it as well… but she doesn’t hear much praise for her accomplishments and is constantly driven by a fear that she is not meeting the standard. She feels the pressure daily to provide for her family!
Do all these backdrop stories affect the individuals on our teams? Yes. Do their histories affect how they work on our teams? A resounding yes. Do their histories give us hints as to what motivates them and what likely hinders them? A unequivocally strong yes!
So, take time to get to know each one on your team. There are great stories and tough stories to discover about people. There are clues to key on to become a better leader for that individual. Don’t miss them.
Let’s get out there and create positive momentum in people’s lives!
What are your thoughts on this? What ideas have you seen work to help leaders key in on these differences? One book that I am reading right now is “First, Break all the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. This book really keys in on the idea that great managers understand that people don’t change that much and it is their job to help people further develop what is uniquely them to execute the shared team goals.