A leader leads. A leader does not focus on the wants of those led; rather he or she focuses on what customers need, for it is through meeting those needs that the leader can pass to the workers what they need—a paycheck and a secure job.
Last month we said the first test of the leader is to legislate when the worker works. This month we focus on legislating what the worker does when they are working, the skills they must possess, and time taken off for vacations.
A simple example is a graphics person who refuses to use spell check. “What can I do,” the leader usually asks, “they just won’t do it.” Hmm. Sure, you certainly collaborate with and listen to workers. After all, they are the people who know most about their jobs, and there may be a good reason. However, the worker is not the only one who knows about his or her job.
Let’s get a better understanding of the relationship between the employee and employer. When the leader hires a worker, the leader is not buying loyalty. We’re not buying a motivated high performer. That develops from the behavior and leadership skills of the leader. All we are buying is the time of the worker.
Because of that, the only absolute right the leader has is to direct the worker in what to do with the time the leader has purchased. If the worker is being told to use spell check and doesn’t or refuses to do so, then the leader has a discipline issue.
The bottom line of discipline, of course, is if the person repeatedly doesn’t or won’t do a task, then they are not doing the job and need to be made available to the industry so that another worker, who will follow procedure, may be hired.
And, frankly, if a worker refuses to follow procedure and continues to be employed, then it is not the worker’s fault. Nope. In that case, it is the owner who should be fired.
The leader legislates the job that the graphics person is expected to accomplish. This is the same principle as the leader setting the work hours so the business can attract and retain customers. Those who are willing to do so are eligible to hold the job. Those that wish to change the work specifications are not. The leader even legislates what the worker should know and the skills they must possess.
Common is the leader who hires a person and tries to organize the job around what the worker wants to do. The CSR is really friendly, customers love her, and she’s been here a long time. But she’s not computer literate and doesn’t want to use the point of purchase or estimating system. Hmm.
The leader decides how jobs are to be priced and entered. The CSR administers the procedure. Should the leader change the procedure, such as introducing a computerized system, then the CSR must learn how to do it and the leader must provide the training.
A training program can be created for any job by listing all of the tasks needed to do that job. Then compare what the worker knows with what the worker needs to know in order to do those tasks. The difference between the two is the training program. Then the leader need only figure out how to best train the worker to do the tasks.
Sometimes the worker refuses to learn the tasks needed. If they do, then they are taking themselves out of consideration for the job, just as if they were unwilling to work the hours and do the tasks required of the job.
Again, you are not being mean, hard, or inconsiderate. You are protecting the jobs of everyone by requiring everyone to do their job. When everyone can do their job, the business is more likely to attract and retain customers, which results in providing the workers what they need: good wages and secure jobs.
The flip side would be to give in to what the worker wants. “I don’t want to deal with the computer, but I want the wage.” This adds waste and redundancy to the system and increases costs while decreasing the ability for the business to perform. Thus, it risks everyone’s wages and security.