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Success at Every Level


Article by Chad O'Roark

Photography by Chad O'Roark

Success can be determined by the people you surround yourself with. Placing the right people in the right positions at the right times can be a difference maker for your business.

As I state in my book, "Success at Every Level," there are many differences in the skill levels that people possess, but no matter what skills they have in their personal tool box; nothing can fix a person's behaviors that is unwilling to do any particular job.

"Now, I am a firm believer that anyone could be a great employee if they wanted too. I never take over a new business or new position and think, “The first thing that I need to do is get rid of all these people and replace them with good ones.” I have found in my 32 plus years in retail that its more often poor leadership that led to the current issues and opportunities; not bad associates. 

I believe that most people inherently want to do a good job. I don’t think that a lot of people wake up in the morning thinking, “Alright! a new day has come. I wonder what I can do to mess things up at work today?” I know that there are some people like that out there, but they are certainly not the majority. 

Some people may be unwilling for reasons such as poor prior management, being disgruntled, feeling overlooked, or thinking that they are just a number, another cog in the machine. Maybe they feel run down or burned out because they have always been the GO-TO person for every big project and just need a break. 

The good news is that it’s not hard to spot ‘Will’. For a moment we’ll talk about Will as if it were a person. Will has a lot of faces and can take several forms. Will likes to cross his arms, roll his eyes, and he sighs a lot. Will is unenthusiastic, hesitant, grudging, reluctant, and slow. Will shrinks away from responsibility and balks at new ideas and any type of change. Oh, he loathes change of any kind and murmurs about it under his breath. Sometimes the murmurs turn into complaints and whining. Will doesn’t like to be bothered, and probably shies away from work. Will says things to others like, “Stop working so hard because you’re making the rest of us look bad.” Will can’t stand to be around positivity, and positive people really drive him crazy. Will is not a team player, and unless he becomes willing to change; then he may need to be changed. 

Admit it; as you were reading through that description it reminded you of someone that either currently works for you or that has in the past. Why did you allow Will to be such a downer for so many and for so long? 

Will may still have potential. You can determine this through proper coaching. Sometimes Will needs to be handheld or guided back into the skilled workforce. This ‘Will’ may be someone that failed at a similar project before or could even simply be a new associate that doesn’t have enough experience to feel confident and motivated to do the job. 

As a leader I can teach someone a skill. I can’t teach that same person to be willing to perform that skill. I can guide them and direct them, but I can’t make them want to perform. You have probably heard the old adage that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. That is true. However, you can certainly drown the horse in the process if you try. 

If you have someone that is truly unwilling; someone that is a cancer to your business, then you need to operate. Remove them from your organization. However, if you have someone that is not skilled, but willing; then you are obligated to teach them and to help them to succeed."

Helping others to succeed will breed loyal and committed team members. When they recognize that they are part of a team and that the leadership is on their side, then they will be willing to do almost anything to support the group.  

Make sure that you take the time to recognize each individuals skill and will levels. The actions you take at that time will determine the future of your success.