Filling in the Blanks... you’re good at it, but should you do it?

“Pat, I’ll Buy an L for $200!”

As a manager, you have a team and are often tasked with hiring on a new individual to complement the team. You work with your HR department or a Recruitment Firm to ensure that you choose the right person that can complete the necessary job requirements and will fit into the culture of your existing team. You want a productive, strong relationship within your team that will last so that success can be built and reached!

You focus on 3 key areas:

  1. Does the individual have the core skill set to fill the role?
  2. Does the individual share the same core values as the team?
  3. Do you see future potential with this individual to do more than just what is needed today?

So now you’ve done it. You have hired on your newest team member and you are quite pleased with the hire. You begin the on boarding process to ensure everyone understands the role of the new hire, everyone is on the same page and that they understand their short and long term objectives in order to achieve success.

Now let’s fast forward into the future – let’s say 5 years. You are still managing this same team. Your commitment to your team’s success and to the organization has been noticed by those around you. You have been commended for the ability to form a good team and for your ability to retain talent. You have coached your team along, supported them when they have wanted professional development and celebrated in the success of the implementation of several projects. You have addressed issues when they have arisen. In fact, you have proven to yourself, that even when there were issues, where some team members may not have pulled their own weight or needed assistance in some way, you have been there for them. You have jumped in by putting in the extra hours and have adapted your management style to ensure success. You have taken the burden of the team’s stress, so as to ensure those more senior to you and your peers see the cohesive team you have put together.

But wait a minute! As part of the role you took on as a manager, you always knew that you would have to support, coach, lead the team, and address each obstacle as it was needed.

Is your team really the cohesive team you make it out to be? Have you been actually ‘filling in the blanks’ to create a successful team to the detriment of your own personal success? Are you fulfilled as the manager? Has the role you took on turned out to be the role you thought it was? Are you happy?

Let’s look back at the hires you have made....are they all where you need them to be, to ensure success today and into the future? You have prided yourself at reading and understanding your team members. You have a high EI and have been very adaptable. You have shown complete understanding and patience when certain team members’ personal lives have encroached on their business life and they have needed some time off and have picked up the slack. Have you compromised your own personal growth for that of the team’s and organization’s? But that is what a good leader does, you justify, is it not?

Even now, you think back to all of your hires, and you still believe in their potential the way you did when you hired them. You have to, right? Otherwise what does it say about you as their manager? Yes, there have been industry issues, and competitive pressures, and tight timelines, and for that reason, things have been tough. You have made it through and everyone seems to be doing well. On paper your team is doing very well! But are they really? You have been logging so many hours to meet objectives, and without letting anyone know, you are simply exhausted!

Perhaps when you look at your team, you do not see them for who they are today. You are still looking at the potential you hired – years ago. You do not see the short comings as being ingrained traits that have been nurtured and adapted to and are now not what you need for the next phase of business. You consider how you look at the work week each Sunday night and think about what you need to do more of, to adapt and change to continue to make the team work. Right, after all, you are the successful manager; you are the one who is to be thinking about this!

But, does it really make sense to ‘fill in the blanks’ in order to support the hiring decisions you made years ago? Often times, we hear how based on where an organization’s business cycle is at, a different style of leader is needed. One can argue that the same can be said at any level of the organization. Some team members are good with start up projects that are exciting and new and require creativity! However, when the environment moves into maintenance mode or a new direction is required, a different skill set, and hence different team members may be needed. Team members may not be able to change and are simply incapable of being what you want them to be or what you need them to be to address future objectives. It’s hard to admit, but the tried and true may not be right for the next and possible future.

So what now? Do you consider keeping certain members based on a sense of obligation? Wanting to believe in their potential? Or is it out of a sense of guilt, that maybe you could have done more to have them ready for this next phase?

Ultimately you have a role not as a manager but as a leader. A true leader will welcome the opportunity to reassess. A true leader recognizes that ‘filling in the blanks,’ although easy to do, is not the way to go as it doesn’t empower your team but simply enables them to be less than their true potential. You’re a fixer, and they will let you fix. Each team member and the leader can benefit by understanding individual strengths and weaknesses and how they play out for the future direction of everyone involved.

Organizational reviews handled by firms, like Legacy Bowes, should not only be considered when things are not working well. Reviews done with the intention of bringing out the best of the current state and built upon the success of each individual are a form of breakthrough leadership and vision. Objectivity will bring clarity and may bring to light, where gaps have existed, still may exist, but have simply been managed extremely well.

So, perhaps, “filling in the blanks,” because you are so good at it, is not the way to go. An organizational review objectively conducted, will lead you to a better place, lead each team member to a better place, and ultimately lead the organization to a better future state. In the end, everyone has a comfort zone and it is easy to simply fallback into familiar roles, taking on familiar tasks, hoping for success again, without any true sense of growth. However, a new role, a new team, may just be what is truly needed, to experience exponential success!

On the television show, Wheel of Fortune, the excitement of completing the phrase with the least amount of letters ‘filled in’ must be balanced with the amount of money one wants to risk winning – by the luck of spinning the wheel. When you do complete a phrase, you move to a new category with a new phrase. Is it time to complete this current phrase you are in, forget one letter at a time; and get yourself to a ‘new category’ as a leader? Yes, it could mean a change of some team members, but perhaps a growth opportunity for them, yourself, and the organization!

Attitude is Everything
Believe in the Process!