Making sure they have the right people on their team is one of the most important skills that great leaders possess. Conscientious leaders employ everything from role-playing to cognitive abilities tests and from personality tests to peer interviews to decide who to retain, train, and promote. While all of these tools are valuable to refine a team, there are two key factors that leaders should focus on when deciding whether or not an individual should be on the team. Those two factors are attitude and skills.
Attitude is a way of thinking or feeling about something, reflected in a person’s behavior. A team member’s attitude about the company, teammates, managers, products or services, and customers are reflected in their actions. An individual with a positive attitude about the business arrives to work on time, stays late if needed, always gives their best effort, values customers, and generally makes the company a better place for all involved with it.
Skills are how adept one is at using the current tools of the trade and are manifest in both the quantity and quality of the work performed. Skills are like the teeth on a saw. A saw doesn’t get sharper with use. Managers often focus on experience when evaluating skill levels but just like a saw needs sharpening, skills need constant updating. Technology can make high-level skills of the past obsolete. Rate skill based on relevance to present needs.
With a list of team members and a simple two by two grid, a manager or owner can quickly evaluate the quality of his or her team and identify where to invest further or make changes. Use the Attitude Skills Grid to evaluate team members as positive or negative for both attitude and skills. Ideally, the entire team would have a positive rating for both attitude and skills, but typically the team is spread throughout the grid. Each quadrant represents a team member classification.
Oaks (+Attitude; +Skills): These are the mighty oaks in the organization. They have great attitudes and excellent skills. The Shel Silverstein book “The Giving Tree” comes to mind when describing these individuals. The giving tree gave all it had to the boy it loved: fruit to eat and sell; shade to sleep in; branches to climb on; wood to build with; a stump to sit on. Moreover, the tree was happy. The tree had all the skills necessary for success and a selfless attitude.
Acorns (+Attitude; -Skills): Hire attitude and teach skills. Hardworking, honest, dependable, grateful humans can learn to do about anything very well. Acorns will become your oaks. They are the future of the company. As a manager, focus on nurturing the potential that these team members demonstrate.
Berries (-Attitude; +Skills): Team members who fall into this quadrant are a temporary fix. Yes, they produce fruit, but like blackberries, you have to fight the thorns to get the results. It is possible to tolerate blackberries for the three months of the year that they are bearing fruit, but during the other nine months of the year, they are simply a fast-spreading weed. No matter how much time you spend tending to a blackberry bush, it will never lose its thorns.
Weeds (-Attitude; -Skills): A weed by definition is simply a plant that is out of place. A team member with a bad attitude and a lack of skills is out of place at your company. There is absolutely no benefit to letting a weed continue to exist in the organization. Weeds grow and spread quickly. When found, a weed needs to be pulled.
The Attitude Skills Grid is a simple and effective way to help managers identify team members that they need to protect and nurture and the ones they need to remove from the organization. Most managers have already started putting team members into quadrants in their minds while they are reading the article. Click HERE to download a PDF form that will help you sort your employees and then take action.
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