• Leigh Gerstenberger

SWEAT the Small Stuff

Updated: Jun 19, 2019




One of my favorite aphorisms is “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff….and it’s All Small Stuff.”

While there may be situations where this is good advice, one area where it’s not, is in the recruiting, hiring, training and development of staff.


Recently a business owner I was speaking with posed a number of questions on these subjects and our discussion led me to reflect on the following acronym which proffers good practical advice when attempting to develop high performing teams.


S – Steering – Is the new colleague receptive to being coached, counseled and developed? Are they open to guidance and direction under the mentorship of a manager or team leader? A lack of receptivity to being “steered” will make for a difficult tenure for them with your organization.


W E – Work Ethic – Does the colleague demonstrate industriousness? Do they arrive on time, stay late when necessary to complete all their assigned tasks? Do they look for what needs to be done rather than waiting to be told what to do, pitching in wherever and whenever necessary?


A – Attitude – Are they upbeat, encouraging and possessing a positive attitude? In my experience while many colleagues can take some time to develop the skills necessary to effectively do their jobs, a proper attitude will often buy them time in the minds of their managers who might otherwise judge them more quickly if it’s taking them longer to master the skills needed to effectively perform their assigned tasks.


T – Teamwork - How effective is the colleague at working well with others? Are they collaborators or do they view themselves more as individual contributors? Do they put the customer first at all times, or is their world all about them? Do they understand the basic tenets of servant leadership and do they truly understand that there is no letter “I” in the word TEAM?


One of the best leaders I ever worked with reminded us constantly that hiring effectively was at best an inexact science. He used the National Football League as an example. He would frequently remind us that the NFL an extensive tryout process for rookies known as the combine.


The NFL Scouting Combine is a week-long, recruiting showcase where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of National Football League coaches, general managers, and scouts.


Prospective NFL athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of an athlete's performance during the combine can affect their draft status, starting salary, and ultimately their career.


All that said, my manager would remind us, even the NFL has less than a 50% success rate of players who excel during the combine and go on to enjoy stellar careers.


Therefore, managers shouldn’t be too hard on themselves and/or their new colleagues when folks don’t live up to expectations. Rather, they should consider working closely with their new associates after they’ve been hired, making clear that the first 60 days are a mutual, probationary period where both parties will be evaluating if the colleague and organization are a good fit with one another. During this period of time managers would be well served to do their best at SWEATing the Small Stuff as they work closely with their new colleagues.

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