Part of my responsibility at Gilligan Sheppard is to recruit, hire and train new administration team members. The recruitment process is something I find relatively easy, especially by being located in Auckland city. Once I’ve made the decision to hire the person I believe is right, I then take on the responsibility of being accountable for that decision and wanting the best for them and the rest of the team.
As we all know (or if you don’t know, wow lucky you), sometimes that decision isn’t always the best or the right one! Some new team members just don’t fit the mould, culture, have common sense or even the use of their brains to fit in or become the team member you need them to be. This said, you still need to give them a chance to prove themselves. You need to be the one to encourage, train and also protect! Sometimes you just need to be like the African Elephant!
African Elephant: When it comes to African Elephants, a new mum is not alone in guiding her young. Elephants live in a matriarchal society, so other females in the social group help a calf to its feet after birth and show the baby how to nurse. The older elephants adjust the pace of the herd so the calf can keep stride. By watching the adults, the calf learns which plants to eat and how to access them. The females regularly make affectionate contact with the calf.
But just like the African Elephant, the job isn’t’ yours alone. You should have support from other team members and management. If this isn’t readily available, let them all know that you need it. And if necessary be as big as the elephant!
What happens when you finally have to agree that this isn’t going to work? How do you handle that? Not only do you have the reality of – ‘I made a mistake and have to accept it’, you also have the reality of – ‘I need to let someone down and inform that this isn’t the job for them and they just don’t have the skills required to complete tasks’.
I am one of those who believe honesty is the best policy, but I am also aware of how hard that can be to deliver in an empathic way. We don’t want to crush someone further than they may already feel about not being able to do the job. They are probably already receiving all sorts of complaints about mistakes they have made and are continually making from other team members or from clients. Like I said in the beginning, it is your responsibility to be accountable. This means stepping into a junior role if required, putting in more hours or assigning more resources for a period of time. Helping the transition of exiting a team member with compassion and understanding is not an easy task.
You need to make sure you give enough time and energy to the new recruit (who may have some legacy issues to now deal with). So yet again, you will find yourself back to impersonating an African Elephant.