Now I would consider the 4 of us – me, my husband and my 2 daughters – a tight family unit. We enjoy each other's company, we spend a lot of time together and we love each other. Sounds obvious, right?
I wanted to share with you something that I've learned about my eldest daughter, Leilani, over the past 3 weeks.
Leilani is my joy. She is the happy go lucky kid who when my husband, Cody, asked her if she wanted to play in a baseball league 2 years ago her response was 'Yep! What's that?'. She is very caring and loves to laugh. And talk. So when it comes to her schoolwork, she will spend her time helping others do theirs, she will try and make everything perfect and... she'll talk. Her handwriting isn't amazing, her spelling isn't crash hot and she's distractable.
Compared to her sister she's (to use these very traditional words) 'not as smart'. I'm not being cruel, it's a judgment consistent with her school reports that come home every semester.
But, almost 3 weeks and many battles over comprehension later, I've realised something. She is very good at reading: she understands what she reads and she loves decoding patterns in maths. She's actually really smart. I've noticed this through the conversations we've had when battling the work – that she processes information by talking it through and once she's done that, she can answer the question correctly. It's not that she's not smart, it's that her friction point is the writing.
By now you might be wondering, 'Alena, she's your daughter. You spend so much time with her and she's one of your top 3 most important people in your life. How did you not know this?'
The answer is this: I never really looked.
I learn a lot from this little legend
The illusion created by strong relationships
This is so often what I see between CFOs and their staff. There is an illusion that's created when a CFO has a great relationship with their team that everything will go smoothly and performance will follow. But - even when 1:1 meeting rhythms are set up and the meetings are had, this isn't always the case.
We start to make performance judgments. "Gosh, I really like Jennifer and she has so much potential, I'm just not seeing it in her work." Or "Mark really fits in with the team, but he's really hitting the mark from a delivery perspective. I'd really like to see him work out here."
This is because you're not looking out for the clues.
What clues are your team giving you?
1:1 meetings are most valuable when they increase the bond between manager and staff so that work can be enjoyable and more productive. They're not intended to be task oriented nor treated like a 'tick the box' exercise.
They are also a great way for you to notice things about your staff – things that influence their performance. Like their communication preferences or learning styles. Think about where they're struggling and use your 1:1 time to see what you can learn about them that may be contributing to it.
Be an investigator. In your 1:1s be interested and get clues to help you identify performance gaps and opportunities for your team members. Look out for what's not said. Do this well and you'll be able to lead them more effectively and deliver better results.
Results are not the only thing
You might be of the opinion that, especially now, ensuring Leilani knows she is loved is more important than schoolwork and I agree. But knowing this information now allows me to support her even more. Because no one likes to struggle. Even when it's not the most important thing.
Who in your team is not delivering?
What is the quality of your interactions?
What clues are they giving you?