Spread the “pay attention” equally
Rick, the machine shop supervisor for a dental equipment manufacturer, told Session 6 of the Leadership Development LAB (LDL):
“Lately, I have noticed myself paying a lot of attention to the most experienced top operators in my business unit. As I reflected on how I was using my time and giving my attention, I realized I was also paying a lot of attention coaching and assisting the new, inexperienced employees who seem to need the most help. I realized I wasn’t paying enough attention to some of our ‘invisible,’ reliable, ‘you can always count on’ team members, our ‘steady Eddy’s.’ There was one employee in particular whom I was feeling guilty about having neglected. She is not one of our most experienced people, but she is productive and has never caused any trouble.
“I decided to consciously make it a point of speaking with her whenever the opportunity was there and if necessary, to invent reasons to see and talk with her. I soon found myself looking forward to these unscheduled meetings. She is a very pleasant individual with a great sense of humor.
“During a recent review with her, I asked her how she thought things were going in our area. She said, ‘I think the adherence to safety rules in our area is going downhill,’ and she gave me a couple of good examples of where we can improve. As soon as she mentioned them, I knew she was right. A few days later, I tackled the problems she mentioned along with some additional safety issues that I knew needed attention and improvement. As a result, our area has definitely improved our safety practices.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that some of the best suggestions come from team members I least expect. All I have to do to tap this resource of great ideas is pay a little attention, show an
expression of interest, and when I do, it can pay big dividends. “The action I call you to take is look for the ‘invisible’ member of your team. Pay equal attention to all team members in your group. Take a moment to wake up and become aware of the amount of time you devote to each member of your team. Be honest. If you notice, as I did, that all of your attention is going to the stars and duds, then develop a plan to pay equal attention to every member of your team.
“The benefit you will gain, it is safe to say, is an invigorated, empowered team. You will experience enhanced performance and improved team work.”
Paying attention to all team members, not just the trouble makers, trainee’s and stars, is a challenging opportunity for all leaders. It’s so easy to become reactive driven by demand and circumstance instead of being an empowering leader who sets the agenda. Be an empowering leader. Set the standards; make them high and devote valuable time to really paying attention to everyone on the team. When problems come your way, you will have an empowered team of high performers.
The Southwest Washington Contractor’s Association is sponsoring the first ever open enrollment Leadership Development Lab (LDL) in Clark County! For more info, call us at (503) 625-1867.
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