Encouraging your team to make mistakes

“Say what? Why the heck would I want to encourage my team to make mistakes?”

As I’ve been prepping for a new team leadership course that I’m working on (details coming soon) one of the things I’ve come to see is this:

There are a lot of businesses out there that have a culture of perfectionism.

And perfectionism could be the very reason why their team is struggling.

A culture of perfectionism means that people feel like they have to do it right. The first time. All the time.

And when they mess it up or make a mistake, it becomes a BIG deal.

They become so afraid of making mistakes that they can end up:

  • constantly second guessing themselves
  • getting caught up in every little detail to the point they don’t get things done
  • relying on other people (you?) to give them the right answers or tell them what to do before taking action
  • quitting because they are too overwhelmed and stressed out about it all

Put simply, when it’s not OK to make mistakes then people can’t do their best work. And that is a problem.

Now perfectionism can be sneaky… as leaders we may not even realize that we have created a culture of perfectionism!

Perfectionism sneaks in when we do things like:

  • Take over when someone makes a mistake. When our response is “just let me fix it”… instead of empowering them to fix the mistake on their own
  • Expect them to ‘hit the ground running’ the day we start working together… and then question why things aren’t happening as quickly as we would like. (It takes time for people to get to know you and your business.)
  • Let someone go the moment something is done wrong or it feels like something is missing… vs. digging deeper to see if it can be resolved (others on the team will see this happening too)
  • Get outwardly mad or frustrated when someone makes a mistake… it’s OK to feel mad or frustrated (we are all human!) but to lead and respond from that place is damaging. Especially when it happens on a regular basis.
  • Hang over their shoulder and question their every move, with things like “why are you doing it that way? I would have done it this way”…
  • Question their recommendations or advice, especially when you’ve hired them to bring those recommendations to you.

“So does this mean I just let mistakes slide?”

Heck no! We don’t want mistakes to happen on a regular basis, and nor do we want to just let things slide when they do.

Encouraging mistakes means that we create a culture where two things are true:

  1. It’s OK to make mistakes
  2. We EMPOWER our team to fix their mistakes

When we create a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes a few things start to happen. People start taking more action because they aren’t getting as caught up in “I have to do it right!!” They move faster. They become more creative and innovative. They are more engaged in their work. They may also bring more caring to their work (because they are no longer afraid of judgement or having to operate in defensive mode all the time.)

And when they do make a mistake – because lets be real, we all do – then they are empowered to fix it. To explore options and bring solution to the table. To get support from you or other team members as needed. To do what it takes to make it right AND prevent it from happening again in the future.

I’ve always said that I don’t care if someone on my team makes a mistake – what I do care about is if they are willing to own it and fix it. And in my 20+ years of being in business I have yet to see a mistake that couldn’t be fixed…

Here’s to making more mistakes! So that we may move forward faster & together.

Making your team a profit center

There are 3 ways that your team can impact the bottom line in your business:

  1. They can BRING in money
  2. They can SAVE you money
  3. They can help you KEEP money

It’s this last one that I want to talk about today, as it often gets overlooked.

When we think about our team being a profit center we default to thinking that it’s all about them bringing more money in the door. And yes, if they are in a sales or marketing role that is exactly what they need to be doing.

But that’s not the only place your team can make a difference to the bottom line.

How can your team help you KEEP more money? It’s all about managing delivery of your programs, and ensuring that your clients have a great experience which leads to:

  • less refund requests
  • fewer cancellations (of memberships and ongoing programs)
  • repeat customers (who continue to buy more from you)
  • sending referrals your way

And the beautiful thing here is that the simplest things can make a big difference – which is exactly what I’m sharing in my session next Friday as part of the Fill my Groups Virtual Conference hosted by my friend Milana Leshinsky.

My topic is aptly named ‘How to Make your Team a Profit Center in your Group Coaching Programs’, and I’ll be sharing 3 ways that your team can help ensure your clients have a great experience in your program (so that they stick around, sing your praises and come back for more.)

This conference is free of charge, and starts on Monday, March 15, 2021.
>> Click here to register

Don’t ask for free work during the hiring process

I’ve had a number of folks share with me recently that they are being asked to do free work or “submit projects” when applying for posted opportunities.

I define free work as something done specifically for that business that takes a measurable amount of time (1-2 hours or more).

Things like “create a plan for my upcoming promo” or “write a piece of sample copy for X”… and they are being asked to do this before they’ve even been interviewed.

Yes, I get that we are looking to test someone’s skills and abilities during the hiring process… that we want to see what they are capable of and that it matches what we need.

But if we ask for too much upfront not only is it unreasonable, you are also going to miss out on some great candidates.

So how do we find out someone’s skills/abilities during the hiring process?

There are 3 ways:

1) Ask them about their skills, experience and training/certifications as part of the application. In traditional hiring this is asking for a resume. When hiring freelancers/contractors you don’t want to ask for a resume (as they don’t have one being business owners themselves) but you can ask for a link to their website or LinkedIn profile with relevant information.

You can also ask specific questions about what you are looking for “Tell me about your experience with _____” or “How would you rate your skills in this software?”

2) During the interview you can dig in even further re: what they shared during the application process. Talk about examples of past work they’ve done, types of projects / clients they’ve worked with, etc. This is the stage where you can really see/feel what they do (and don’t) know.

3) And last but not least, if you want to get an experience of what they bring to the table before hiring them you can have them do a PAID project or bit of work.

Let’s imagine you’ve talked to a number of candidates and narrowed it down to 2 that you are really interested in – pay them for a few hours of their time to do X. This is a great way to see what someone is capable of before making it official while also honoring the value of their time.

The more purposeful we are throughout the hiring process the more likely we are to find the right fit.

5 characteristics of a top performer

We all want to hire (and be!) a top performer… but what makes someone a top performer? In today’s video I share with you 5 characteristic of a top performer.

What characteristics would you add to this list? Share a comment below 👍

Ups & Downs

You’ve started working with a new client and it hasn’t been as ‘smooth’ as you would like… and you are wondering if maybe it won’t work out?

You’ve hired a new team member and things haven’t been moving as quickly as you hoped… and you are wondering if maybe they are the wrong fit?

It is natural to have ‘ups and downs’ in the first 90 days of working together! AND there is a mistake I see many people make here that could be getting in the way of your growth… which I share in todays NEW video (along with my #1 tip to navigate the ups and downs.)

Is it you or is it them? (team issues)

I do a lot of work with people around their teams – and what I’ve come to see is that it’s a 50/50 split when something isn’t working.

  • 50% of the time it’s a “wrong person was hired for the role” issue.
  • And the other 50% of the time it’s a leadership issue – not leading them effectively so that they can do their best work.

It’s easy to default to assuming the first part is the problem – it’s them. Although this can be true, I recommend checking first to see if it might be a leadership issue vs. saying “this person isn’t a fit” and looking to hire again… which can be costly in terms of time, energy and money!

This requires that we come from a place of curiosity – and sometimes vulnerability – to ask ourselves:

Is it possible to take a different approach to leadership that might bring out the best in this person? That might make it work?
Was I clear in my expectations of the role and the results that I’m looking for?
Did I get agreement from them to ensure we are on the same page?
Do they have access to all of the tools, information and resources they need to get the work done?
Is there anything I’m doing that might be (inadvertently) getting in the way?

These can be tough questions to ask ourselves, as it forces us to take a look in the mirror and see where we need to improve in our leadership. Where we aren’t as effective as we could be.

And yet… the beauty of leadership is that it’s often the little things that can make a big difference! Slight tweaks in the way we engage with our team members can – at times – change everything.