Not so long ago, I had someone whom I considered to be a young lady with a bright future as a machine operator pull me to the side. I could clearly see that she was upset. I asked her what was wrong.
She said “I don’t think I can make it. I don’t think I am good enough to make it as a machine operator.”
I was shocked. I didn’t let her see that. Instead, I started thinking back as to where I had been. Consequently, I decided to share what happened to me many many years ago.
“Let me tell you what happened to me many moons ago. I was 23 and a brand new mechanic in the Army when out of nowhere I see one of the leaders from another department bend down by me and whisper, “you don’t belong here. Why don’t you go be an admin or go become a nurse or something.”
I love the Army, but I still remember what I was doing when he told me that. Why, did he think that because I was a woman I wouldn’t make it as a mechanic. I don’t know maybe he was right. I laugh about that now because I am in HR now, but not just any HR person. I have a maintenance background. That helped me get my job today because I can relate to our workers better. I can talk maintenance and people respect me when I speak.
I did not let his words hurt me. I used that to work harder and make it a point to not just be a mechanic, but be better. I found my real passion in people.
The real moral of this story is that the only person in between you and where you want to go is yourself.
I see something special in you. I see you making it far in this company, but you have to snap out of it. Now go and show me that I was right.
I know you have it in you to be a great machine operator. Go talk to Johnny the lead mechanic and have him show you how to take that machine apart and trouble shoot it. Tell him I sent you.
I will check back with you in 30 days. Show me what you have learned.”
I went back to see her. She was so excited to show me what she had learned. She thanked me for my encouragement, and she told me she was going to make me proud.
As HR, I didn’t just dismiss her and tell her to get over it. I told her my own story because I had one. I also not only told her to challenge herself, but I also told her who to talk to. The most important thing that I think truly made a difference is that I followed up. I took a special interest in her because she needed a special guide. I also spoke to her supervisor about what happened and we made a plan to help her.
I am proud to say that she is a great operator because we did more than just hear her “complaints.” We listened. That to me is our job as an HR department who executes with purpose like Steve Browne says.
The key to developing people is to:
- Relate to them to build their trust and respect
- Connect them with other employees who can help them
- Give them a clear short term goal
- Collaborate with other leaders to bring visibility to employees with potential
- Follow up that shows them you care and can remember
One of what some people say is one of my talents is my ability to just look around take a picture and find ways to teach a story or a bring up a point. This one I showed to her supervisor and her.
“I took this picture on my way to work because it made me think. It is so easy to allow the obstacles in our life distract us from where we truly want to be. Don’t lose sight of what you truly want. Never stop reaching for the sky!” ~C.A. Clark
I hope this will encourage you to be a more deliberate when motivating your people to be better people and employees. If you treat your people right the attainment and the profits will follow.
Now I am off to try the steak and eggs my husband just made me!