Everything begins with the brain.  The brain engaged with the heart is a powerful thing.  The heart/brain can sometimes get disengaged with stress or the need for an immediate outcome.  You rely on your past experience or future-forgiveness to get through.  Without a conscious commitment to your mind-set, what every part of our brain is telling you, you can make mistakes in the name of expediency.

This is true, and sometimes harmful, when it comes to creating engagement in the employee life cycle.

How goes your hiring?  Is it time to tune up your processes?  Maybe you are attracting the so-so rather than the go-go?  Does the idea that Jim Collin’s espouses in Good to Great, “First Who Then What”, seem frivolous in the heat of battle?

When in the heat of expansion, or pressed to the wall because of staffing issues, the brain goes to survival mode and you may be tempted to place anybody in a position just to have some relief.  The stress may lead to the decision to short-shrift on training.  Fear of losing a body leads to non-direct performance feedback.  Frustration leads to termination.  The cycle begins again.  Sound familiar?  You are not alone.

One simple Brain Hijack around your hiring decision or your feedback communication could breed disaster for the engagement of your overall team.

So, let’s start with your brain and take a loop around the Employment Cycle – from hiring to firing – and see if you can be persuaded to hire and nurture the WHO for your company.



What your stress is telling you:  Get a Body

Mindset Re-Frame:  “With crystal clear vision, I know the characteristics and skills required and I am willing to wait for the right person.  I have a simple hiring strategy which includes probing for the cultural and behavioral characteristics that best fit my company.  I am willing to suffer my discomfort to respectfully ask the tough questions from the start.”

Orientation to On the Job Training:

What your expedience is telling you:  We’ll figure it out as we go along

Mindset Re-Frame:  “Do we know, together, what success looks like?  My job is not complete until you have the resources that you need.  I believe in you.  I’ve created this training outline which will allow you to see the path and what success outcomes look like.  I feel confident that I can factually and neutrally point you in the right direction.”

First Corrective Performance Feedback:

What your concern is telling you:  This employee is doing it wrong

Mindset Re-Frame:  “There is no shame or blame, simply course correction.  I’m probably feeling a little frustrated because I wanted your performance to be effortlessly great.  I own my frustration and can put it to the side to communicate the facts and the path.  Now, let’s look at what success looks like together.”

Coaching, Counseling and Discipline:

What your frustration is telling you:  I’m going to write you up

Mindset Re-Frame:  “Maybe I’ll need to formally document the discipline, but I have to have the conversation first.  In seeking to understand, maybe I get some different information about a resolution.  I owe it to you to share judgment free honesty about the impact and consequences of the behavior.  I hold you as powerful enough to create and agree to an action plan for change.”

Conclude Employment:

What your shame/blame is telling you:  I made a bad choice

Mindset Re-Frame:  “This position or place of employment is not a fit for all.  I don’t need to blame or shame.  With respect, I set you free to find the perfect job fit for you.  I now have an opportunity to start at the beginning and make sure that my hiring plan is in good shape to find a great fit.”

Let’s sum up:

  • You have to hire great people who fit your culture.  Avoid the warm body syndrome.
  • You have to train them according to a plan.  Everybody needs to know where they are going and why.
  • You have to be willing to course-correct performance as it is occurring and do so with fact and respect.
  • You have to coach and counsel with your own discipline, allowing the other person to create the change – or not.
  • You have to be willing to release and terminate those who demonstrate behavior that doesn’t work for your company.

And you have to be willing to do all of these things with a brain connected to your heart.

The logical plan combined with empathy creates safety for your employees.  Emotionally safe, yet inspired employees deliver the highest level of engagement.  Create engagement at every opportunity by getting on to your mindset and being willing to shift and change what’s not working for you.

Mary Pat Knight, CEO of Leaders Inspired, is a Transformation Strategist, Speaker, Facilitator, and Coach committed to leadership and emotional intelligence in the workplace. She is known for cutting through corporate drama to create laser focus for powerful business and personal results for her clients. 

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