A Leader’s Speed Bump; How to Best Lead Your “Speedy Employee”!

As a leader, either you’ve come across or will come across what I call a “Speedy Employee”. This is the person on your team that’s a go-getter, doesn’t need micro-managing, is intuitive, listens, applies, takes initiative, and hits the ground running; all you have to do is point them in the right direction! In my employee years, I was the “Speedy Type”. I wanted to GO; therefore, I asked questions and wrote the provided answers in a notebook I carried around… so I only had to ask once, could learn on the fly, and develop my craft. Sounds like a great employee to have on your team, right? Remember, they’re Pros & Concerns to everything! The Pro is your “Speedy Employee” can be an asset as they help to impact and enhance the vision and expectations you have for your team; acting as a model for how to be and a beacon of professionalism servicing your clientele. However, The Concern is, they will only do as good as their leader allows, delegates, and deals with the mistakes “The Speedy Employee” will inherently make!

Too many times, leaders may become frustrated by “The Speedy Employee” due to them wanting to move too fast, learn too much, taking initiative, mistakenly operating outside of the chain of command, or simply making a mistake they were bold enough to attempt and invest themselves in. I’ve heard and seen leaders boldly reprimand “The Speedy” in email or face-to-face, pull back work, or visibly become upset or intimated by “The Speedy’s” drive and enthusiasm… I was once yelled at by a boss for being too happy! Or, the supervisor has check-out or burnt-out, and leading this type of employee is no longer what they desire to do; as your “Speedy Employee” is going to inadvertently demand more from your leadership than your average. As long as you “Speedy Employee” is coming from a place of wanting to do great at their job, has the best interest of the team at heart, and is motivated to do and be more…. our job as a leader is to slow down their process; not stifle their progress. So, how do we do that?


Their Dream?

It’s so important to connect with your “Speedy Employee” at this level to enhance not only your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony, but also theirs! Know what their dream is and what they want to get out of working with you, for you, and at the organization. When their dream has anything or nothing to do with the organization… Great! The truth is, an employee like this will not be with you or under you forever; they inevitably will move up or move on. When they move up… it helps the company and your reputation that you had something to do with it. When they move on… and you knew their dream and either helped them with it or at least encouraged it; allowing them to speak great about you in their new professional and personal world… and your company will be seen as a great place to work!

At my last jobs before walking away to start my own business… I couldn’t help but share my dream. Unknowingly, it inspired and motivated some of my co-workers and also allowed my supervisors to know what to talk to me about; at the minimum to ask me how my dream of being a speaker and author was going? Not only did it bring a smile to my face when they asked…  it also helped keep me motivated as I didn’t want to be embarrassed and not make it!

Be mindful… you may end up working with or under “The Speedy Employee” one day; crazier things have happened! In my first job out of college, I was young and speedy and my supervisor was a great guy. I learned a few nuggets from him I still use to this day. I later accepted a new job at a new company, loved it, and rose to a position of leadership. Who knew… five years later a man was hired to be a part of our team and who walks in… my old supervisor! Wow, now I’m his supervisor!


How They Learn?

Your “Speedy Employee” knows how they learn best… do you and can you make room for it? In my Leadership Training Program, I talk about A Leader’s Nicely… the four big ways people learn best and which type you are and your people are. Know yours, know theirs, and allow a marriage of the two. I can’t tell you how many bosses told me to put my notebook away during my first few weeks on the job. Remember the notebook I said I carried around to ask questions one-time, write the process, learn it, only having to ask once… They told me to put it away and that I wouldn’t need it! Why? Perhaps it’s the first time they’ve seen someone do it, subconsciously expect you to learn as they learn, the process of an employee writing slows your teaching down, etc. The point is, how do you like to teach, how do they learn best, marry the two, and allow for great learning to positively impact your team and company!


Clear Expectations!

Your “Speedy Employee” is intuitive, listens to what is needed, responds quickly to requests, and is off to the races! They are most likely going to do the task within the guidelines that are initially presented to them and honor the titles within the organization. Sometimes, their speedy follow-through can inadvertently mess things up. Or, YOUR boss asks them to do something… they are most likely going to speed to do and get it done. However, to you…  it may look as if they are disregarding you or overstepped their boundaries. Let’s face it, sometimes your boss has no idea of what’s really going on, the nitty-gritty details, and the relationships you have with those involved in the project… and here they come with a bright idea, request, or a change of plans… giving it to you’re “Speedy Employee” and now it’s more work for you to clean up. Sound familiar?

The problem is, you may take it out on the “Speedy Employee” due to your emotion of the minute and the safety of lashing at them rather than your boss. As a leader, it’s your job to set clear expectations with your boss and with your “Speedy Employee” that best impacts the organization, the team, and your people.

1.    Set a time to discuss with your boss how the project is working and it will be completed better and faster when requests can be made through you and then delegated through you as you have the inside track, relationships, and have worked to put everyone in the right seats to get the job done. If a backdoor approach is needed… It may be best to present it as an idea. “I have an idea I think would help with the communication problem we just had with the project or  __(person)__. It’s been working best when you contact me with the issue/request and I deliver it to _________. Due to the nature of the project, I have a lot of inside information and can help us save some time and potentially some money. Plus, it helps me in my position as the team leader and to build the team’s leadership skills”. Feel free to make this more of your own.

2.    Have a positive conversation to appreciate your “Speedy Employee’s” diligence in getting tasks done and sharing the expectations of how to best handle interference by other or higher organization leaders. So, how to do it?


The Positive Sandwich!

In the mishap like I shared above… remember, your “Speedy Employee” was simply doing what they were asked, getting the job done as usual, and being a great employee. However, that will not erase your frustration and the amount of clean-up you now have to do. Therefore, having a conversation when you’re in the middle of your emotion typically is not a good idea. The last thing you want to do is turn an employee who cares into an employee who doesn’t. Therefore, pick a time or schedule a time with “The Speedy” to discuss. Be mindful of having this conversation via email; as leaders protect themselves and you may not prefer to have statements about other leaders in black and white, Lol!

The Positive Sandwich may sound like, “I’m glad we’re getting to talk. You’re a great worker and the team is benefiting from how quickly you’re getting things done. As you can see, there can be a lot of hands in the pot and sometimes when someone who is not closely involved with a project asks you to do something, it can cause unforeseen issues. I don’t want you to stop being how you are; as we move forward, I’d like you to reach out to me first when ____________ requests you to ____________ and we can go from there with either you doing the task or I can step in. I’ve addressed this with ___________ and we appreciate all the work you’re doing.”.

Think about the anxiety your “Speedy Employee” may feel not following through on a task YOUR boss asked them to do. That’s why it’s NECESSARY you exhibit great leadership by addressing this with your boss or bosses first; to protect your “Speedy Employee” then address it with him/her to fine-tune the process; ensuring leadership, teamwork, and elite customer satisfaction!

“As a leader, sometimes we may have to slow down someone’s process, but never stifle their progress… Be Mindful!” – Andre Young

Written by: Andre Young

I’d like to learn more about Andre Young’s Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings & Speaking Engagements, books, Online Training Program for my organization, leaders, employees, and teams or MasterClass! www.youevolvingnow.com

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