To create a strong team in today’s work environment takes just one thing…
LESSONS FROM THE ECONOMIC SLOW-DOWN
Leaders and owners who I’m currently coaching in the Physical Therapy industry can all testify to the hard truth of what’s happening at their clinics.
Little to no patients coming in the door to tend to.
Which leaves them to work through how they are going to stay afloat until they can resume treatments at full capacity.
Some have taken to virtual visits, using telehealth to replace a portion of their cash flow. Others considered reducing hours or possibly letting go of staff members in extreme cases.
WORKING THROUGH A COMMON STAFF MEMBER DILEMNA
Recently I held a coaching session with a practice owner who had a high-value employee with a low-level interest in remaining on the team.
The problem is that this staff member wants a title and a raise. At least before the pandemic, those were her demands. She feels she can get what she wants because she performs a key duty at the clinic which nobody else can.
Since the lockdown conditions slowed foot traffic into the clinic, it gave my client more time to work through how to handle the situation.
OPPORTUNITY EXISTS IF YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Because he felt unable to meet the demands of his staff member, he found a way to automate a portion of her work. Just in case she was to leave, he wanted to make sure the work she was responsible for could still get done properly.
But, the next step I advised him to take is the critical one to help both him and his staff member to get what they want.
I invited him to have an open dialogue, a vulnerable conversation that invited in the concept of co-creation.
HOW TO INITIATE A VULNERABLE CO-CREATION DISCUSSION
Using my client’s situation as a model, here is how I would advise you to handle a similar staffing situation.
First, set up a block of dedicated one-on-one time with your team member. But, do it in a way that would be appealing and feel welcoming to them.
Invite them to a co-creation session. A safe place to discuss what you both want to see how you can shift what exists to satisfy everyone.
In that meeting, be sure to open the conversation with how you’ve had more time to think through what’s important to your business.
Let them know that keeping valuable staff members like them on your team is a high-level priority for you. However, your highest priority is for them to feel like they are getting what they need working with you too.
That small act is a massive hat tip to being vulnerable.
You are letting your staff member know your business needs them. Plus you’re alerting them that you are willing to entertain their input about what they want.
SCHEDULING THE MEETING IS ONLY PART OF THE SOLUTION
Getting back to my client’s scenario for a second, he reduced his staff member’s job to a part-time role. Once he did so, he realized the portion of her duties he had automated was only a sliver of the value she provided to his clinic.
Naturally, tensions were higher for both of them because through his actions, he demonstrated she was replaceable.
If you’re dealing with a similar situation where “back-pedaling” feels necessary, consider these next steps.
DIVE DEEPER INTO THE CONVERSATION
You’re both present.
Your team member feels somewhat rejected or abandoned because you’ve reassigned some of their key tasks.
What are you going to do to spark a desire to want to work with you in a new capacity? Especially since you already took away a big portion of the duties they feel proficient doing.
In a word, you’re going to ask…
These are a few of the questions to continue the conversation.
Tell me what you feel would be the best use of your energy?
What do you think your knowledge base lends itself to doing for the team?
What would it take for you to function at your highest level in my business?
ADMIT YOU DON’T KNOW IT ALL
With those answers, now is the time to share your vulnerability again.
Acknowledge the replies you get. Ask for clarification if you need it. Then, give them this key piece of information…
Say that you’d like to entertain what they want as part of the position that you’re creating together. And, that you just don’t know what it would look like yet.
It’s critical that you don’t make the mistake of saying you think you can give them exactly what they want and then not deliver on that promise. That puts them right back into feeling undervalued, unappreciated, and unheard.
Admit that in the past you didn’t pay attention to some of the things they wanted. And, that you lost track of some of the details.
Make it clear that you used some of the recent downtime to shift your mindset to what matters most. Happy staff, happy leader.
KEY METRICS CAN WAIT
Consider this conversation your discovery session.
You and your key team member are having a meeting of the minds to decide if what you can offer is a fit for the other.
Yes, you will need to set up an employee scorecard so they know how you will measure their performance. Along with a description of behavioral expectations and core competencies.
But for now, it can wait.
If you bring these points up during this meeting, it becomes off-putting and feels like a manager to a subordinate conversation.
Besides, it’s jumping three steps ahead of where you need to be in the present moment.
LEADING THE WAY IN THE CO-CREATION PROCESS
There will be pieces that are important for you to add to the position you are co-creating to retain great team members.
One way to make sure they are recognized by your staff member is to let them know “this” is where you’re going with this business. Then, ask them if they are interested in coming along with you?
Next, tell them what you plan to do to create expectations for all of the staff members. Ask for a commitment on their part for that process too.
Finally, tell your staff member that you’re considering transitioning them into the position they defined as their “ideal” role. Get their buy-in by asking if they are interested in considering it once it’s defined.
CO-CREATING A STRONG TEAM TAKES MORE THAN ONE
To create a strong team, you need help.
When you choose to involve each member of your team in defining their role for your business, you all win.
Remember to remain vulnerable in your conversations and you’ll have a strong team surrounding you. Each staying true to their strengths while you stay true to your business mission.
I’m here to coach you through additional roadblocks if you’re struggling with team dynamics. Click here to schedule a free strategy session with me.