After college, I was hired by a large staffing company as a recruiter. Over my 11-year career with this organization, I excelled at recruiting. Whether it was light industrial, office professional, or massive, high-volume projects I always seemed to exceed my client’s expectations. My managers, too, were happy with my results in all areas except for one. Documentation. I loathed documenting my activity in our applicant tracking system and rarely did it, much to the chagrin of my managers.
I am driven by efficiency and results and being asked to document every interaction I had with a candidate or customer felt like a monumental waste of time. Time I could have been using to find more candidates to fill more jobs.
Now, I am also a logical person and understand the logic behind documentation. Documenting activities in the system ensures a paper trail that others can follow to continue to serve candidates and customers at a high level without disruption.
But I did not care. I was stubborn and did not want to document my activity. I just could not get past the impact that documentation had on my overall productivity when it came to finding candidates and filling jobs.
Did my managers coach me on my lack of documenting? Yes, but it never stuck. Why not?
Here are three reasons why I believe their coaching efforts were ineffective.
Reason #1 - My perception was that it wasn’t that important. Why did I feel that way? Well, there were never any consequences or follow-ups. I was never held accountable, and I knew that I could continue to get away with not documenting.
Solution – Had my manager outlined consequences and followed through on them, I probably would have adjusted my behavior and started to document in our system.
Reason #2 – The feedback was never consistent. My manager would address my lack of documentation maybe once or twice a year. This lack of regular feedback made me feel as though it really was not that important to my manager and as a result, it was not important to me either.
Solution – My manager should have addressed my documentation struggles during our weekly one-on-ones. Heck, they should have held weekly one-on-ones. Interactions with many previous managers were few and far between. Because I was performing at a high level, they pretty much left me alone and I rarely had one-on-ones.
Reason #3 – My managers never sought to understand the “why” behind my lack of documentation.
Solution – What if they had asked themself the following question: “Is it an aptitude problem (Can Do)?” If they had, they might have uncovered that I simply did not understand the most efficient way to document. With a little training, I might have been more on board with what they were asking of me.
How about asking “Is it an attitude problem (Will to)?” Perhaps they would have uncovered that I had a bad attitude and didn’t really buy into the process.” Equipped with this knowledge, they could have had a greater understanding of how to best coach me and gain my buy-in.
Being a leader is not easy. It takes considerable effort and time to build up employees and provide them with the feedback they need to grow in all aspects of their roles. I am sure many of you have employees who act similarly to how I acted and if you don’t, you will at some point in your career.
When you are struggling to connect with a member of your team, just remember this quote.
A weak leader says a thousand things one time. A strong leader says one thing a thousand times.