The Coach's Corner

Archive for July, 2017

You Can’t Put a Square Peg in a Round Hole. It’s All About “Fit”

July 24th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Years ago, Barbara and I were leading a mission trip to Ecuador. One of our 20 team members, “Charlie,” was quite challenging to our leadership team. He often showed up late and missed several required preparation meetings, he struggled to get paperwork completed on time, he talked too much at our tightly scheduled meetings, he frequently offered unasked-for comments suggesting we do this or that differently, and the list went on. I think you get the picture.

The general policy with mission teams was that the leaders had the right to excuse someone from the trip if they believed that individual would be a detriment to the team. In the case of the Ecuador trip, we would be traveling through a number of airports to a developing country where the government was unstable. We needed team members who responded to us.

A week before our departure, the leadership team expressed their concerns and said they thought it would be best to leave Charlie in Detroit. For reasons I cannot even explain today, I disagreed and assured the team that I could manage him, and the situation fell into my lap. (Let me tell you, working with Charlie really honed my leadership skills.)

During our trip planning and preparation process, Barbara had offered to administer the Learning From Your Strengths assessment to any team members who wished to complete it. Charlie volunteered to participate in the assessment. One evening in Ecuador, Charlie came to me with his LFYS profile and asked if we could talk. Several hours later, after he had shared his life story, including telling me that he had worked at many different financial services firms, I said to him, “I am at least an average leader, and you’re unable to follow me. After hearing your story, getting to know you over the past six months, and looking at your assessment, it’s evident that you need to be in charge. I strongly recommend you start your own financial services firm.”

When we returned home, he did just that — and over the next several years, I heard from multiple sources that his firm had become very successful.

Why am I telling you this story? If you’re a business owner or CEO, it’s part of your job to make sure people “fit.” In my March 7, 2016, blog post, I spoke about the importance of “attitude”; now I’m adding “fit.”

Charlie was obviously talented, but all his life he had been a square peg in a round hole. Do you have any square pegs in your company?

p.s. Charlie was a very well-meaning and talented guy. He painted a beautiful mural on the back wall of the Ecuadorian church we were constructing and, privately, he gave a very generous financial gift to the church.

Is it Better to be Efficient or Effective?

July 10th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Those of you who know me well can testify to how obsessed I am with efficiency. When I observe wasted time, it drives me crazy. I’ve come to realize, though, that often you can achieve both — efficiency and effectiveness.

That being said, there are times when it may take longer to handle an item/issue properly. When you’re dealing with a more complicated issue, it’s better to speak in person with someone rather than communicating via an email or a text.

A few years back, I was meeting with a client and, when I asked how his day was going, his response was, “I have spent most of the day mopping up messes/misunderstandings caused by emails that should NEVER have been sent.” That’s a great example of an instance where it may have been more efficient and less stressful if the people communicating by email had spoken with their colleague directly.

Many of you are probably not aware of it, but before emails and texting, there used to be a document referred to as a memo (yes, paper) that was delivered through inter-office mail (you may not know about that, either). Back then, my mentor, Frank Moran, would instruct his team members that if their communication had any emotion involved, they should speak with the colleague or client as soon as possible. His directives were clear then and still make sense today: Do not send a memo, email, or text, or leave a voicemail message if some level of emotion might be involved; all of those forms of communication can easily be misinterpreted.

I’m guessing that most of you have experienced this unpleasant situation. My advice is to learn from your painful experience and, next time you’re dealing with something that’s really important, challenging, or difficult, resist sending an email or text.

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Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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