Whenever I assumed responsibility for a new area or department, I’d always try to hold a staff meeting(s) as soon as feasibly possible with all my people.
I believe it’s vitally important to set the stage, to put your personal stamp on the business, to let your people know how personally invested you are in them, our customers & the business.
You want to ensure there is no doubt whatsoever regarding how you feel about what you consider to be important. You must take this stuff PERSONALLY & convey the fact that you will treat every staff member as a PERSON, not a number or a resource.
If you want to be successful, you must view your role as more than just a job, just a bunch of functions you perform because they’re defined in some job description.
When your people realize how serious you are, how personally you take your role, how totally obsessed you are about not only the department’s success, but THEIR personal success as well, then you’re making progress.
When they’re able to see, hear & actually feel your passion about them, the customers & the company, then you’re already half the way there.
You’re not gonna rule from the throne in your office or cubicle; rather, you’ll get personally involved with the business & your people.
You must speak directly from the heart…or else, they’ll smell a rat in a damned heartbeat!
Two of the topics I always expand upon are RESPECT & TRUST.
They don’t have to truly respect me from Day 1.
“What was that you just said, you crazy man you?!?”
And while I do expect them to show respect & be respectful from the get-go, I will work hard…every single day with everything I say & everything I do…to earn & gain their true respect.
You can’t demand respect from people…that’s management by intimidation. And all you’ll get back is fear & (maybe) obedience. Instead, you must garner their respect over time with your words first, then your follow-up actions.
And while I will certainly demonstrate the appropriate respect in dealing with them, they, too, must work hard & strive to gain my true respect of & for them.
If I fail along the way, they have no obligation to truly respect me. None.
And, similarly, if they don’t act in such a way as to gain my true level of respect, they won’t get it, either.
And, trust me, if either of us fail, we’ll all fail. They’ll be few, if any, survivors if this ship sinks.
But if we’re successful in what we do & gain each other’s respect along the way, then I won’t hesitate to point to them directly as the reason why!
Trust, on the other hand, is a totally-different thing.
I will demand, not ask for, their total, unconditional trust in me from this very second. I don’t care if you know me, heard of me or if this is the first time we’ve ever met each other.
100% trust in me.
And, in return, I will trust each & every one of them.
(Trust me, I know a lot of this stuff sounds absolutely “weird”, “contradictory”, “nonsensical” & “irrational”.
Why, thank you very much!
But what it DEFINITELY is is “unconventional”.
Neither right nor wrong on its own, but for me, it felt right! I’m not a big believer in “going by the book” or “following a certain formula” that various “experts” may profess.
Im looking to communicate on a totally-different level that most leaders & managers…and NOT because their way isn’t right!
It’s just not right for me!!!
That’s a very important lesson for all of us. YOU GOTTA BE YOURSELF, first & foremost.
Then, you try your damned to wrap your role & responsibilities around that core.
NOT the other way around!)
The trust we’ll have for each other must be at the highest level possible. It can’t improve. It can only decrease over time by each other’s actions.
They MUST trust me that I will ALWAYS do the absolute right thing for them, the customer & our company. That I will ALWAYS take into consideration their situation when making a decision. That I will ALWAYS care for them, worry about them, help them, do everything possible in my power to make sure they’re successful.
They must believe, with all their being, that I’m on their side.
And while that doesn’t mean that I will ignore all the rules & regulations that help govern our business for the “sake of having fun”, I will always take their particular situation into consideration when making changes or doing anything that affects them.
And I’ll always try & explain my position before anything gets implemented & why I did it as well as answer any questions they may have…before, during or after.
They must trust me that I’ll treat them as if they were a member of my immediate family.
(Yeah, I know, the 2021 way of “leading” is that we’re a team, NOT a family.
Just be yourself above all.)
And I will always trust them implicitly, believing that they’re always trying their best & that they always have the customer’s & the company’s best interests at heart.
Until & unless one of us…either they or me…do something to break that trust.
If that ever happens, then we’ll need to address it directly & fairly, then try our damnedest to regain that total trust from the other party.
(Yeah, yeah, I know I said that “once it’s gone, it’s gone!”, but that was more for effect than anything.
Nothing is irreparable.)
The example I always gave them is if I ask them to jump off the proverbial bridge.
I want them to trust that I’m always trying to do the right thing for them, regardless of how it may appear initially.
And if there’s no time for explanations, I want them to jump immediately & without hesitation…because they trust me.
While they’re in the air, before they actually hit the water, by all means they can look up & ask, “Hey, Mike, how come?”.
But I want their first inclination to be “I trust that he’s asking me to do the right thing” & then we can always go from there.
And I will always trust that they’re telling me the whole truth, being completely open & honest with me. I want them to be comfortable enough to know that I will keep their confidence when requested & will always try to help them in any situation regardless.
That’s how I want the relationship between me & my people to be.
A base level of respect is initially assumed, but to get one’s true respect, that’ll hafta be earned…each & every day!
Trust? We must begin at the highest level possible & from the very beginning. And we must ensure that everything we do & say never puts that trust at risk.
Your people will appreciate the way you feel about them, the customers & the company. They will find it very refreshing that you’re personally dedicated to making them successful & that you truly believe that it must be “all hands on board”.
No one’s too important or too busy not to jump into the fray with them, not afraid to roll up your sleeves & get actively involved with what’s going on.
Your passion for success, for the business, for the employee, for always doing the right thing must be clearly evident to everyone.
A quick little story…
We were holding a quarterly meeting (“All Managers Meeting”) with all officers from across our San Antonio site (the U.S. Citibanking Center) & I was scheduled to make a short presentation to the group.
But since we didn’t publish a formal agenda or anything, no one (in the audience) really knew who was doing what or when.
Our site CEO would come to the front to announce each of the presenters when it was their time to speak.
I was up next, but I was sitting quietly off to the side.
Our CEO, Ken Villano, took the mic to announce the next speaker.
“I don’t want to tell you his name right off the bat, so let me see if I can possibly describe him to you.”
He holds his hand up in the air, and with his other hand, he grabs his pinky finger, only exposing the very top of it to the audience of ~350 attendees.
“Here’s what I’ll tell you.
“This next speaker has more passion in the tip of his pinky than this entire room has all put together!”
I started to get up out of my seat. Before he could say another word, the entire audience stood up & started cheering, “Mikey! Mikey!”.
They were screaming, stomping their feet, pounding on the metal folding cheers. I clearly remember seeing my buddies Michael Garza & Randy Klause in front.
Blew me away.
Every time he tried to calm them down, they just began roaring even louder.
I was totally choked up. I knew if I tried to say anything, I would start crying & acting stupid. I was completely overcome with emotion.
When Ken handed me the microphone & we shook hands (“Thank you so much, Ken!”), these crazy people were still going.
Finally, they calmed down & I regained my composure.
The rest was easy.
But I hafta say, that was one of the proudest moments of my entire life. These were all the supervisors, managers, officers, AVPs & VPs from the entire campus & these people knew everything that was going on in the business.
I used this to illustrate that your passion, when it’s real & genuine & you wear it on your sleeve, is obvious & infectious!
Your people see it & feel it…as will others.
Make yourself stand out by being a true champion for your people, your customers & your company.
Thank you so very much for listening!