David K. Williams, Contributor
September 23, 2015
“Everyone can be great at something; everyone is on a path to becoming great, and leaders facilitate, encourage and empower that greatness,” declares Jim Holm, CEO of the Performance Assessment Network (PAN), a provider of talent measurement solutions that help companies hire, educate and develop people to their fullest potential.
Our leadership team at Fishbowl met with Jim to explore how we could bring an awareness of greatness into the rhythm of work. It’s time to turn the tide; we cannot build great organizations if we, as leaders, are champions of pointing out failure. Exceptional leaders possess an uncanny ability to envision greatness where others cannot.
Humans experience an average of 60,000 thoughts a day. That’s one thought per second in every waking hour. Amazingly, 95% are the same thoughts repeated every day. On average, 80% of those habitual thoughts are negative, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Great leaders counteract negative thoughts with positive actions. Jim encourages leaders to participate in at least five encouraging exchanges prior to having any corrective conversation.
Jim is an intuitive, thoughtful leader who naturally brings out the best in everyone and everything around him. He assured us that focusing on greatness is a skill every leader can develop.
Here are his insights on creating an awareness of greatness at work:
- Stay humble and optimistic. Most employees are trying to meet your expectations. If there is a gap in what is delivered or in communication, look at what you did in the scenario and what you could have done better to enable a successful outcome. How could you have provided more direction or support to help them meet your expectations?
- Build a relationship of trust and continue to extend trust, even if it has not always worked in the past. Accept what you are being told at face value with an open mind. Encourage every chance you get.
- Serve as an example of your expectations. Too often there is dissonance between what leaders expect and what leaders do. Minimize this by modeling in your actions what you expect in behavior and outcomes of others.
- Once the foundation is in place, the team will rise to meet your expectations because of the trust they have in you. Positively reinforce them when you see the greatness surface.
Capitalize on the greatness in the people around you
Jim reminds us that the most important component of business is people . The leader is the aggregator of skills, and employees are the providers of skills. People and businesses thrive when a leader is accountable for discovering greatness in everything.
This is essential not only to create complex solutions for the market but also to become complete leaders and maximize the results of the organization.
“Leaders experience hundreds of interactions a day. Some people leave you with increased energy and excitement. Others drain you. To experience more positive interactions, you can focus on greatness with those you interact with,” said Jim.
Discovering the key to unpacking the building blocks of greatness
The science of measuring people’s performance has improved significantly in the past decade. When leaders struggle to identify the greatness in someone, assessment tools can help to quantify strengths and weaknesses.
Personality tools allow us to communicate and interact better; skills and abilities tests will help identify ways to reinforce the knowledge and abilities your employees need to be successful in their roles. Provide mentoring, training and feedback loops to encourage changes.
Jim encourages leaders to look at the competencies each job requires and the skills team members possess to make sure that each person is well matched. Do not be afraid to make a change. When you place people in roles that give them the highest probability of success, you help them and your organization.
“We (as leaders) need to make sure that we recognize great (desired) behaviors and achievements even when it’s what’s expected (job description/requirement). For example, an employee is in charge of performing a specific report by the end of each week. They get it done every week, on time, and done correctly.
“A great leader understands that it is important (and motivating) for the employee to receive positive feedback and reinforcement of a job well done. It’s easy to expect greatness as the norm and easy to forget to recognize, compliment and reinforce it ,” said Jim.
Find the right match
There are tens of thousands of different jobs in the market today, so there is a job that can fit nearly everyone. People can be great at their jobs. If they are not great today, we can help them to be great in the future.
We all know individuals who struggle mightily to do great work but fail because of a misstep, the culture or expectations. To help, we must identify the type of role they need to succeed, and we can use the advances in measuring psychology to do this.
“When each person is in the right role, their expectations line up with their performance. Each person has knowledge, skills and abilities that create a unique opportunity to contribute. Each role has distinct challenges and requirements. While there are similarities between roles, each organization will handle roles in a slightly different way,” shared Jim.
His company PAN matches the requirements of the role with the culture of the organization and the strengths of the individual. There are useful assessments to assist with this goal. Employees are not always aware of their personality and influence in their organization. As we help people recognize how they work, we empower them to improve.
Small changes can make a big difference
As leaders, we can directly influence both the role and the individual. When we identify the simple things that people do well, we will create an upward spiral of success in the culture of recognition of the great work around us. Say thank you, encourage, praise people in public, inform peers that something good has happened, celebrate success, etc.
“As the leader, you will easily recognize the significant contributions because they influence the financial outcomes, product launches or important customer interactions of your organization in a big way. It is more difficult and, therefore, more important, to recognize the small things that matter. Compliment whenever you get a chance,” shared Jim.
When you help employees identify their strengths, you can change their level of contribution. People who know they are good at what they do, act and perform differently.
Identify employees’ strengths and place them in a position to use those skills or capabilities repeatedly. When employees know they can succeed in their roles and you, as the leader, have recognized, complimented and reinforced great behavior, great things will happen in your organization.
Respect is a powerful motivator and the ultimate key to unlocking the door to greatness and so much more.