Thought Leadership
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Affecting Change at the Leadership Level (Part 2)

May 6, 2016

This is part two of a two-part blog post discussing how leaders can affect change.  Click here to read Part 1: "Affecting Change Through Your Leadership Style And Presence".

Affecting Change within An Individual

Brad also needs to address an underperforming individual at the partner level. Law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms are in the people business. Their business is to serve their clientele. Therefore it is a necessity that they have clientele to serve. One typically moves up to the partner level because of the client relationships he or she has developed throughout his or her career. So, what do you do with an underperforming partner. Terminating the relationship is the easy answer. However, being who he is, that is not Brad’s first choice. He wants to expend all possible options to see if there is a way to turn this underperforming partner, not necessarily into a star, but at least into a solid, client-centered performer.

With our underperformer in question, Brad, has an opportunity to do and create something really special here for both the firm and for the underperformer and his family. The reason I know this is because what the underperformer had to conquer 8 years prior (through our initial coaching encounter with him) was far more difficult for a trainee to accomplish than what is needed now (being more proactive with developing new business and interacting with people from a business development perspective).

So, here is how the one in leadership can affect that change within another individual:

  1. Make a list of the specific behaviors you wish to see improved, or changed or eliminated within the trainee. In this instance, being better at developing new client business.
  2. Once you have a “workable” list, select just one item on that list. It is easy to mess this up if you are too involved, too emotional in the situation. But if you are focusing on the right items that require change, it is rather simple, as long as you are patient.
  3. Now with that one item, it becomes a short-term, mini-goal or objective.
  4. Give the trainee an assignment that requires him to carry out that item. If you can make the assignment fun, enjoyable or gratifying that will make this process go much better and much easier.
  5. The trainee is to then report back to you his or her progress and results 7 days later.
  6. The trainee must record his results and experiences ON PAPER and bring two copies to discuss; one for you and one for him or her.e This will be their Action Log. With this action log, be sure they understand that they are to record three things PER ATTEMPT:
    1. The date and time of day.
    2. Who he/she was interacting with and what were the circumstances.
    3. What he/she learned or realized from this attempt.
  7. Require at least ONE attempt per day in-between your weekly “coaching” meetings.
  8. Then, after the trainee has successfully performed this task, move to the second item on your list and repeat the above process, then the 3rd and 4th and so-on.

If Brad does this correctly and remains consistent in every way; weekly meetings, day and time, objectives for doing this exercise, etc. then he will see his underperformer experiencing transformative behavior before your very eyes and that is a VERY good thing to witness.

As long as the trainee is motivated to do the work, the motivation does not have to be because they want to improve.  It can be as a result of a negative motivation (for example, “I don’t want to lose my job").  As long as the trainee is motivated and they are supplied with the right tools and given an increased sense of greater accountability for executing on the tools and assignments, then you typically will see that individual change the indentified behaviors over a 2 to 12 month period of time.