Look Outside to Fix Your Inside
I believe that every major corporation and business can derive exceptional benefits and value by looking ‘outside’ your organization to fix the problems and issues ‘inside’ your organization.
A DAY IN THE LIFE
When I was an airline manager, I was responsible for every aspect of daily operations at 4 different airports. I recruited, interviewed, and hired all of my employees and I was responsible to coach, mentor, direct, train, and guide my employees to provide the highest levels of customer service. I had great support teams at the senior and local station level — but at the end of the day, I was still responsible for everyone and everything. The buck stopped with me.
When my employees fell short of the mark, I was responsible to address, remind, encourage, and make recommendations on how they could have achieved a different or better outcome. When the informal approach did not work, I moved into a progressive discipline process leading up to and including termination. All of these steps were critical as a people manager and I never stopped thinking about what needed to be done.
THOSE DARNED PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
I was required to conduct new hire and annual performance reviews. Many new hire employees made it to the 6-month mark and beyond; but several did not, which started the entire hiring, onboarding, training, and evaluation process all over again. At any given time I was a coach, mentor, cheerleader, mind reader, facilitator, cajoler, mediator, counsellor, negotiator and chief arbitrator. Exceptional patience, respectful communication, and conflict resolution skills were an absolute must in my position, and I honed those skills every day for many years.
ALL ENCOMPASSING, ALL CONSUMING
In addition to the people management side of my job, I was responsible for Safety and Operational Performance, Annual Station Budgets, Financial Reporting, Regulatory Compliance, Emergency Response, Ancillary Contracts and all administrative functions. I managed Market Intelligence, Customer, Community, Airport Authority, and Stakeholder relations. My position was all encompassing and all consuming. My work environment was dynamic and demanding and I thrived on the daily pressures and challenges. No day was particularly easy, but I was still rewarded for my efforts. I knew when I connected with my employees in a positive and meaningful way and they knew it too.
OVERWHELM IS A WORKPLACE HAZARD
In hindsight, I think the majority of frontline managers, no matter what profession or industry, are simply too overwhelmed to keep up with their daily workload — especially if it is operationally based. Employees need a lot of attention even if they are self-directed. They need to understand what is expected of them and they need to be nurtured and coached, motivated and praised.
Employees also need to be held accountable for any gaps in their performance and it is incumbent on the manager to ensure the employee is made aware of any performance issues in a timely manner. The superstars need to be challenged and the slow starters need to be nudged. Every employee responds differently, so on any given day, a manager needs to stop and think about what communication or management style should be utilized so that they can be most effective in the delivery of their message, be it positive or negative.
AND SO, THIS IS WHY
My biggest revelation happened after I started my new business, Jennifer Grant International . As a consultant, I have been hired by several companies to do exactly what I was '‘supposed' to be doing as a frontline manager. The difference now is that I can actually focus on the specific task I am hired to do as an external consultant — be that coaching, mentoring, directing or reinforcing, explaining policies and guidelines, improving internal communication, building the team, addressing conflict issues and making improvements that are critical to the success of the company who hired me as a consultant.
As a consultant, I am extremely well prepared to handle any project involving employee groups or teams, including managers and executives. I can easily relate to the challenges that most employees in any work environment are exposed to. I am also regarded differently: I am an outsider to the organization, which is a very good thing. I am not bound by friendships to the employee group, executive, and management team. I am there for the sole purpose of making the improvements that the business owner simply does not have the time or expertise to do. Many of the employees I have worked with as an external consultant tell me they feel noticed and appreciated for the very first time in weeks or months, even when I have to call them to task.
PRIDE AND DENIAL
I am aware that most every large company has an HR department as well as Team and Department Managers who all want to do the job they were hired to do — and do it well. It has been my experience that companies are often skeptical or resistant to look 'outside' their company to find fixes to everyday problems because they believe they need to fix it themselves. Pride and denial is very commonplace amongst executives and business owners. Many companies also profess that they don’t have the budget to hire an external consultant to help resolve problems in the workplace.
THE TRUE SIGN OF STRENGTH
It is a proven fact that more companies than not are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars by letting small problems become big problems. Only some of the examples of letting problems spiral out of control range from conflict, poor morale, abuse of sick time, substandard performance, and low productivity resulting in customer complaints, profit loss and sometimes even bankruptcy.
Believe me when I tell you, it is not a sign of weakness or failure to consider bringing in a trained consultant or specialist to help you identify and fix what the root problems are in your business. You will actually save money in the long run and your company, employees, and customers will reap the rewards a hundredfold.