For a split second, I debated writing this; I naively believed every Company and Leader would naturally provide their Employees with a cheat sheet to success. However, in the very next second, I distinctly remembered sitting across the desk from my Supervisor in his office… you know, that belittling format of “The Boss” sitting on their side of their BIG Desk and you feeling like a child in the principal’s office (I’ll share a better way as you continue reading)? He told me (for the second time) my paperwork was not up to par. I was shocked and frustrated as I had worked to include suggested changes from our previous meeting. I was also the best regarding paperwork at my last job and had even trained many employees as their Supervisor.
Keep in mind, being the best at your old job does not mean you’re the best. Maybe you were, perhaps where you were had different standards or expectations, or maybe times have changed and what you used to do is now obsolete and it’s time to humble yourself, adapt, and learn with a positive attitude! Therefore, I asked if he had a file of someone else’s work he admired or copies his past work… “A Cheat Sheet”… I could review, study, or copy from to ensure my future work would be not only sufficient, but the best. He said, “No”, provided little feedback, and due to paperwork becoming electronic I requested to look at my coworkers’ files to read their reports.
Although I eventually met my Supervisor’s standards, it could have been less painless. In my previous Supervisor-Days, I created my own mock files. As a Leader, you want to be mindful not to hinder anyone’s style but also provide a framework of what to do and not do, what to write and not write, perhaps what to say and not say… and they can work their magic within that framework. Of course, there are careers when there’s no wiggle room… as a doctor or engineer… please stick to the script that keeps people alive, Lol! When I started my own company and had staff and later when I outsourced highly qualified and elite professionals, I maintained this practice of knowing what works, providing a cheat sheet, and encouraging them to use it and fine-tune it. So, how can you do the same?
As a Leader, you have paperwork and administrative tasks from your previous and current positions. Whether you enjoy it or not… the better you are at it, the smoother your day, and the running of the ship! Give this gift to your People by having a cheat sheet for how to do certain tasks. Remember, Leaders don’t do their old job… they do the People who are doing their old job! What do they need to know, how do they need to do it, how do you want them to do it, and is there a way to mix their way with your way when possible? Remember, times change and the way you used to do it may be outdated, slower, or not as beneficial.
For example, in my days in Mental Health, I used my old Treatment Plans and Progress Notes to create sample files for new therapists. They teach theory in school, but not how to type acceptable documents insurance companies will accept and pay for! Nowadays as a Professional Speaker & Leadership Trainer… my job real job isn’t speaking… it’s Connection & Sales! Years ago, I began reaching out to Leaders within companies via social media and developed a flow of connecting without selling that worked. As business increased; my time to do it decreased. I now have a fantastic Connection Specialist and she uses my original templates… “Cheat Sheet”… and we fine-tune it as necessary!
Of course, your Direct Reports and Employees will attend professional trainings, however I’ve been surprised by how many don’t… and it’s your job as a Leader to enhance their skill set through coaching and mentoring; allowing their skill to improve and your leadership to evolve. Do you have a Cheat Sheet your people can refer to… making them look better, you look better, and the Team more efficient?
Preface Statement – “It’s so great to have you on the Team. We’re going to have a lot of professional wins here and we’ll be sure to celebrate them! As with anything, there will be bumps in the road and mistakes made and I may have to ask some questions or same somethings that are hard to hear, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t… and it’s always to make you, us, the Team, and the company as great as possible. Is that going to be OK?”. BEWARE who says “No”, Lol! This can also be used with an existing Employee or Team to institute change and a new way of doing things.
Tough Conversation – “Hi _____, do you have a second? Remember the time I said I may have to ask a few questions or say something hard to hear? You ready? It’s great having you on the Team and I notice how dedicated you’ve been and want to Thank You. I’ve noticed _____ and it’s causing this ____. Can you help me to understand what’s going on with that? Or, moving forward let’s do or change ______ as it’s causing ______ and will help with _____.” In my Leadership Trainings, I share how to allow your People to suggest their solution; as it helps to enhance their Leadership Skills and may provide solutions you’d never think of! However, in the case of having and needing a particular way of doing things… this style is helpful.
For example, in the situation I shared with me sitting across the desk from my boss. Had he requested to speak with me in his office and sat at the corner of his desk… creating a 45-degree angle to create a feeling of mentorship and support rather than intentional or unintentional power and belittling… it would have felt much more professional and helpful. Also, the sharing of what I did wrong or could do better, proving an example of how, why, the impact my output on my career, the Team, and beyond… and lastly, sharing a Cheat Sheet to ensure his Leadership, my success, organizational standards, and client/customer satisfaction would have made a lit of sense!
Lastly, I end all meetings with, “So over the next ___ (timeframe)__, we’re going to be focused on this, right? Let’s follow up with this in our next 1-on-1! What was your Biggest Takeaway from our meeting today?”. My advice, don’t get lazy with this final question… “What was your Biggest Takeaway from our meeting today?” I promise, you have no idea what your People will say and most importantly… whatever they say is more real and important to them than anything you would have said… and they get to leave your office or virtual call with that embedded in their head and character! Perhaps they say, “I’ve never had a Boss meet with me like this before”, “I thought I was doing a good job, but now I see where you’re coming from”, “I didn’t think of ____”. “Thank You and how about we also do _____?”. This is you enhancing not only your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony, but also theirs… Be Mindful!
A “Tough Conversation” is rarely easy for you as a Leader or your People as Employees… the process above and a Cheat Sheat make it a bit easier… but without Following-Up, progress can stall or come to a screeching halt as old habits tend to overcome new ways! Be sure to Follow-Up as you said you would and in the timeframe you said you would. Your People will be surprised you remembered and kept your word… Remember, Following-Up leads to Follow-Through.
I’ve found most people want to do a good job, and praise helps… what gets rewarded tends to get repeated! Some people like public praise… being acknowledged in the office around their professional peers, on a virtual team call, via company email, Employee of the Month Recognition, or an Award at the company get-together. While others prefer more private praise… that pat on the back, a personal email, text, call, etc. I share more in my Leader’s 7; The 7 Professional Languages Your People Need, Want, and Benefit Most Hearing/Receiving from Leadership! I encourage you to do it all, know your people, add a cheat sheet or two, and lead accordingly!
You now know A Leader’s Cheat Sheet! Do you have one? What’s been the most successful cheat sheet you or your organization uses? What cheat sheet would your People benefit most from having at the moment? Do you have a cheat sheet for your role and administrative tasks… as it will be your job to replace yourself at some point?
“Leaders understand, following-up leads to follow-through… Be Mindful!”
– Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Looking to impact your Organization, Leaders, Teams, and Employees with a Leadership Training or Speaker? Click www.youevolvingnow.com to connect, chat, and customize with Andre Young!