You Can’t Manage People You Don’t Know

During the industrial age, we, as managers, found it effective and efficient to treat employees the same – they were a homogenous group of abilities and skills, not a diverse group of distinct people. This has often been referred to as the “cog” economy where the sole purpose of an employee was to get the job done. The more employees blended into each other by acting the same, the easier the process of production.

Today’s service workplace is a radically different environment. Today’s employees need to be able to provide service experiences, connecting more personally with customers and choosing who and how to be in each customer interaction to provide a customer event that inspires loyalty. Employee uniqueness is now a requirement for the work.

This changes how managers must interact with their employees. Consider these two scenarios:

Think of one of your great employees who is ready for more responsibility, based on their current work, effort and performance. How do you know where to direct this employee, or how to develop them to continue their successful performance? Larger roles don’t naturally mean future success and misaligning the employee may lead to their disengagement and departure.

Think of one of your average employees, one who gets the work done but requires more significant management and seems disinterested and distracted. How can you start to investigate what is causing the performance challenge? Unless addressed, this performance could remain average, affecting the quality of their customer interactions, the employee’s engagement level and the success of the business. 

Both situations could benefit from expanding what you know of your people.

Successful managers make the time to gather information about the performance abilities and human attributes of their people. Yes, our days are busy, but there are ways to increase knowledge of your employees without taking away from the work that still needs to be done.

Here are 3 tips to help you create the situation to start to intentionally gather useful and relationship-building information about your employees.

  1. Think like a coach. Coaches are interested in the person they are coaching – to know who they are, what motivates them, what their goals are, what their strengths are, what their liabilities and triggers are. Coaches make time to get fully acquainted with the people they coach to fully understand them so they can wisely guide them. This can only happen when trust is established. Trust comes from taking the time and expressing and interest. This is critical in today’s manager / employee relationships.
  2. Develop a “get to know you” questionnaire or process for your employees. Consider gathering information such as strengths, interests and their favorite way to learn, for example. Expanding what you know of each employee will provide you with the information you need to manage them successfully and build a more personal and supportive relationship.
  3. Make time. People need time to get to know each other. Make time each week to spend even a few moments with each member of your team or, depending on the size of your team, create a schedule to make time with everyone on your team over the course of a month. One-on-one time matters and is a great way to better understand your employees.

It may be easier to manage every employee the same way but it won’t get you the results you want and need. Customization is the only effective way to manage in today’s workplace. When you know the important information about your employees and commit to being more present to your conversations, discussions and interactions with them, you improve your relationship and your management which will better activate their engagement, performance and loyalty.  

Take Action
Identify one employee you know well and one you are not as familiar with. Spend time with each, then assess what you now know about them. How can this help you manage them more effectively? How can this help you build a stronger relationship as relationships influence employee engagement and loyalty?

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Pay or Purpose – What Really Activates Employee Performance?

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Finding Your Fit: A Real-World Story

The Forte Factor is dedicated to helping you discover, develop and live your strengths to be happy and successful in life. This requires you to be tuned in, aware and mindful – aware of you and your world, and mindful in the way you connect the two to find your fit. This is the key to living a happy, successful and responsible life. 

Sure, this is all great to hear, but what does it look like in real life?

Meet Jay Forte. Sure, you may have read his bio and know he was a former financial executive before becoming an educator, author and coach. Some of you may even have had the opportunity to be a client or to be part of one of his programs and know what he’s like to work with directly.

Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

But that just scratches the surface. I recently sat down with him to get his full story: how he went from a world of numbers to being a Certified Professional, Executive, Business and Greatness Zone Coach.

Q: You worked as a CPA and Financial Executive. What led you down that path?
I knew early on in life that I was good with numbers and organization; process thinking comes easily to me. It was that and some guidance from my parents who thought that because I was so organized and process-driven, that becoming an accountant was a good fit. I heeded their advice and got an MBA. It seemed right at the time. Though I enjoyed the work, I was never passionate about it or felt that is was my calling or a true vocation.

Q: When did you discover your calling was something else? What did you do about it?
As the CFO for a distribution company, I started a small education department to help my employees become more skilled and more engaged, and it caught on in a big way. Going through the training program I created led to significant performance changes that seemingly happened overnight. As a result, the company’s results improved, which led to us being purchased by a much larger organization. The leadership team of the new organization was impressed with our education approach and asked me to start an education program for the company. Twelve years later, we had a formal education center where we trained over a thousand employees from around the globe, focusing on writing, teaching and guiding performance at every level. This is where I found my true calling of education, performance development and coaching. 

Q: Why did you decide to make the move and start your own company? What factors came into play?
After 12 years of developing course materials and working with a significant number of employees from around the world, I felt the need to leave the corporate environment to step out on my own – to write books, coach, teach and speak. I started off by writing two books: Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke the Competition and The Greatness Zone. Taking the time to pull my thoughts together in two books helped me find my voice to bring a mindful approach to work – to help organizations learn how to attract, hire, engage, develop and retain great talent. And in my writing process, I discovered that the same tools and approach to improve workplace performance also worked well for life – to discover, develop and live who we truly are to access our potential and to make our difference.

Said another way, I found my fit – the connection of my abilities and passions to a need in today’s world.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to launch The Forte Factor?
A colleague suggested the name The Forte Factor. How amazing to be born with a name that is connected to your purpose – of helping people discover, develop and live what is best in them. The Forte Factor is your noteworthy special talents and strengths that help you achieve your goals and live your potential. Knowing and developing your Forte Factor is the way to show up big to work and life. My organization is committed to helping people discover and live their Forte Factor – their way developing and living their potential – to improve their lives and the lives of all of us.

So, what is your Forte? It’s a question we ask our clients to help them get thinking about their unique abilities that they bring to the world.

Q: Who are your role models?
My role models are leaders who are able to influence, guide and support without making it about themselves. They are self-aware and self-managed – with little or no ego. These leaders show up as regular people – parents, colleagues, clients, flight attendants, waitstaff, LYFT drivers, kids, teachers, CEOs, trash collectors and others. I watch for them everywhere to learn from them.

Q: Do you have a specific role model or mentor that you’ve looked to for your own life guidance?
The CEO of the organization that owned the company I was CFO for took me under his wing and provided both great advice and interest in my ability to learn, grow and be my best. I saw first-hand how mentoring done right could not only raise skill levels but help others feel valued, included and important. Though this person died suddenly from a heart attack and my time with him was cut short, his lessons of watching the details, knowing and being myself and choosing to bring my A-game to every event of work and life to do and be remarkable still guide my approach in work and life.

Q: What is one thing you are still working on that you know you can do better?
Developing a deeper understanding of who I am and how to bring that unique person to all I do, authentically, courageously and wisely. I still find it difficult to be my authentic self in a noisy and critical world. It is always in the challenges that we learn the most, but developing the courage to be authentic is still a work in process for me.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who may not feel like they’re in the right fit job or position in life? What can they do to find their right fit?
Focus on these two words: Stop and Notice. Interrupt your habits and make time to notice you – what you are good at, passionate about and what matters to you. Then Stop and Notice your world – what opportunities do you see that connect with the real you? It is your job then to work to connect the real you to today’s world to find what fits you.

Be aware of when you listen too much to others at the expense of listening to and choosing for yourself. You are here to be the best version of you. Only you can know and do this. Know yourself. Know your world. Connect the two to find your unique fit.

Q: What is your motto?
No fixing required. You were born with all the right stuff. Discover, develop and live who you truly are. The world is waiting for you to show up as the real you.

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