How to multiply your effectiveness – the 4 levels of ability in your associates


NOTE: This post is a continuation of a topic I started last week. If you haven’t read it already, I suggest you begin with “How to multiply your effectiveness – 2 critical assessments you must make.”

4 levelsI ended the previous post with a promise to disclose how Louis rated himself. But before I do let me ask you?  What would a person with the experience and insight you possess predict would be Louis’ self-appraisal?

Where on the scale found in figure 2 do you think he would place himself?

Before I tell you where Louis placed himself, let me define and explain what those four descriptors mean.

 At the highest level is a trusted associate who can grasp the essence of your vision, your objectives, and your purposes and find ways to make them reality with as much vigor and dedication as if they were his or her own. We all hope we can find these rare individuals to work for us because they need almost no input from us. There is a fire within them that needs no kindling, no stoking, no ignition. They possess such insightinsight understanding and understanding they can perceive what is important to you, define a number of processes to complete your objectives, garner the resources towards those objectives, and voluntarily come to you with a full accounting of what they’ve done.

 If you’ve ever dined at a fine restaurant with exceptional service you know what I mean. The server anticipates your every need. Glasses are filled before you ask, the food is prepared as you like it because the server knows you and wants to make the meal an event – for you.

 As much as you may want those who work for you to be fulfilled and challenged, in the end it really is about you, your vision, your objectives, your profitability, and your circle of concern. Trusted associates know that, accept that, and do everything in their power to achieve that. This is not as true with the others on the scale.

 Next level down is a reliable assistant who is nearly as valuable and capable as a trusted associate with one major distinction. They are slightly less confident in their capacity to understand what needs to be done so they interact with you more. These are highly capable people who can garner resources and make things happen if and when they understand what to do. They will come to you for clarification, check with you for verification, and look to you for validation. It won’t take much to get a fire going under reliable assistants nor will it take much involvement on your part to keep the fire going.

 The next two down the scale are defined by one distinctive character trait that sets them apart from the first two. Neither hired hands nor forced laborers have you, your vision, your objectives, or your circle of concern as their primary concern. They are most consumed with themselves. They work for wages. They labor for what the job pays them and have little concern for what they contribute to the job beyond what is earns them. Their investment in your career extends only to the next paycheck. Some cannot think even that far ahead.

 Before you object that everyone, including trusted associates and reliable assistants works for pay, let me counter that while it is somewhat true, it is not the primary motivating force for trusted associates and reliable assistants but it is for hired hands and forced laborers. The vested interest of hired hands and forced laborers in their jobs is not the satisfaction of tasks well-performed, it is in the paycheck quickly cashed…and just as quickly spent.

 A hired hand will do what you tell him to do in the manner you tell him to do it, to the extent you supervise his performance. For him the adage is true – You don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect. Most manager/leaders, who encounter the hired hand more than any other type of worker, soon realize the amount of time and energy they consume will be substantial, and give up. However, many hired hands have the potential to become more productive and can become even more valuable assets to your team. They can work hard and with some training, free you from routine tasks.

 Forced laborers are hired hands who have to be coerced into action. They consume vast amounts of energy both in the effort it takes to find them and make them work and in fixing the mistakes they make. These bottom feeders can say the right things and mask their consumer mentality. If you encounter one, you will soon discover you are expending way more resources than you are getting out. The best thing to do is cut them loose. They do not possess the potential to improve so they will not be potential producers.

 “You cannot multiply a positive factor (that’s you) by a negative factor (that’s a forced laborer) and expect a positive result.”

You know who said that?

I said that. How often have you tried to do just that? I am certain I could redeem a year or more of work time if I could get back all the hours I’ve wasted trying to motivate the inert. There are no magic methods to turn a black hole into an energy resource. You can multiply your effectiveness by passing off responsibility only to those with the potential to shoulder it.

 4 levels plusYou multiply your effectiveness by handing off responsibility to people who will fulfill it as if you were doing it yourself.

 The energy you expend to work through a trusted associate or reliable assistant pays big dividends. The energy expended working with hired hands can often be an equity trade – equal parts in to equal parts out. The effort spent on forced laborers is always misspent. Too much time is required on your part, too much effort, to much supervision, and too much management. They divide your effectiveness, not multiply it.

 I began this chapter with an account of the performance appraisal Jeff made of Louis. Louis was, at that point in his development, a hired hand. When asked where he would place his performance, he incredulously pointed to the top level – that of trusted associate. How should Jeff respond? How would you respond?

 The operation of multiplication requires two integers. In its simplest and most used form, one integer is made greater by the other. In our specific application here, you and I are made more effective by the participation of another person. In the aforementioned interview, Jeff had an opportunity to increase his effectiveness as a leader and manager by what he said and what he did with Louis.

 He could have played out the summer without doing anything. Louis would go back to school and nothing would happen. But that is in itself not the most expedient thing. Even if Louis made no changes, even if he did not grow as an employee and associate, Jeff could increase his skill as a leader/manager, thus becoming more effective.

 There is the possibility that Jeff’s actions could make a difference in Louis’ performance for the remainder of his term and become more productive. Then, Jeff would multiply his effectiveness.

 Here is the problem. Louis suffered from incompetence in certain areas. He was lacking in certain job skills and he was out of touch with his true value as an employee. He was incompetent but didn’t know it.

 On Thursday’s post I will address the critical place of the teachable moment. See you then.