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How the ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ Approach Can Save a Problem Team Member’s Career

“Stop, Look, Listen”

On the rare occasion when a team member fails to meet expectations, a manager’s first inclination may be to “use their words.” They may deliver a harsh rebuke, launch into a pointed interrogation, or even impose immediate sanctions.

In the Dasher culture, our first move is not to lecture, but to try and understand. We “stop, look and listen” when something goes awry.

Was our team member just having a bad day? Are they suffering from a stroke of bad luck? Are they habitually late because they lost their ride to work or their child care provider? Has a deep-seated traumatic experience resurfaced?  Or is this blemish on their work record truly evidence of a serious problem that is an occupational deal-breaker?

 

Listening to learn

At Dasher, we are active listeners from the very first screening interview of a potential hire. We screen job candidates for “fit” with our culture and values, so difficult employees rarely creep into our culture. We don’t hire challenging team members first, and then try to shape, change or correct them. By and large, we hire right, right from the start. It’s why our retention rate is remarkably high.

Straight out of the starting block, our team members know that we want them to stay, and to succeed.

One way to keep listening at the forefront of our interactions is through the use of EOS®, the engineer-developed Entrepreneurial Operating System®. EOS® was founded by Gino Wickman, who collaborated with other small business owners to establish a system of managerial best practices.  Frequent meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page are a mainstay of this style of operation.

 

Meetings with a purpose

Even in pre-pandemic days, we conducted daily meetings between managers and team members.  Now that we are teleworking, these daily meetings are more vital than ever.

In EOS® parlance, we conduct weekly Level 10 Meetings™ – 90-minute leadership team meetings designed, on a one to 10 scale, to rate 10 in effectiveness. During L10 and quarterly reviews, we develop and discuss goals – or, as EOS® calls them, “rocks.’’

Rocks must be concrete, realistic, generated by team members, and approved by supervisors.  A goal such as “to improve my performance” may be too nebulous and impossible to measure. For instance, one of Dasher President, Tracey Glenn’s rocks has been to devise a work plan for expanding a product line. For another team member, their rock may be to take a customer service class or rewrite a process.

The higher the responsibility a team member has within Dasher, the more ambitious their “rock.” We expect team members will fulfill 80 percent of their “rocks” each quarter.

Meetings help us to showcase and track our rocks. Our frequent meetings are not time-wasters, where one person drones on, and everyone else just tunes out.

We actively engage everyone and listen to how well team members are reaching their rocks.

Trust is essential, and we expect our team members to be honest about their progress.

 

When a rock becomes an anchor

If a team member fails to meet standards, it may just be a one-off — a once-and-done aberration.

Generally, before there is written corrective action, we need to see three examples of poor behavior, such as three incidents of being uncaring and disrespectful and discuss them.

Mentoring and dialogue then follow.

Three strikes lead to an individualized course correction process, based upon listening to the root causes of the problem.

Like their rocks, a course of self-improvement involves a team member’s input, and our active listening, to help them succeed.

Helping a team member get back on track when they hit a rough patch or take a detour is how we help keep them here, improving and appreciated.

 

Dasher is a data-driven, customer contact services operation with a focus on communicating complex messages to diverse populations. Specific capabilities include face-to-face communications provided by our field teams, customer engagement strategies provided by our call center and member engagement staff, and secure, complex, variable mailing services provided by our production team. Dasher is an experienced Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) with a bestselling book, “The Talent Pool,” and is certified by AICPA with the SOC2SM Type2 data certification and validation.

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