I’ve just finished an RFP (Request for Proposal) that I’m submitting to universities across the country giving them the opportunity to partner with Trailhead Enterprises on this first curriculum project.
Some of the questions I asked them to respond to were EQ (Emotional Quotient) questions. You may or may not be familiar with EQ, but it is a parallel idea to IQ (Intelligence Quotient). In years past, IQ was how most were measured, but recent research has led people to believe that EQ can actually have a larger impact on job success than IQ.
For those who haven’t read anything about it, consider the book, “The EQ Interview” by Adele Lynn. You can also google EQ or look on Amazon and find a ton about it. I will continue to recommend books as I encounter and like them.
Anyway, I’ve been considering the impact of a persons EQ on their ability to function well with and for Trailhead Enterprises. Thus, I’ve begun to incorporate these questions into interviews, applications, 1 on 1 conversations with my leaders, and in our RFP. Being true to my company values of Learner and Excellence I feel I should answer these questions before I ask others to. So, here goes a couple of them.
1. Describe a problem you had on another project (involving or affecting other people) and how you solved it.
I worked on a project in San Diego where a colleague was not pulling her own weight. We were each assigned a school to work with and she was doing nothing at her school. Unfortunately the leadership didn’t lead conversations that confronted, evaluated, or handled this and the team members (including myself) were asked to cover her school. She was still being paid full time for her position, but now two of us were doing her work.
This had a huge impact on morale and trust within the group. Even though the two of us covering her school were being paid extra, we resented having to work overtime when she was not doing her regular job. The entire team saw what was going on, and not wanting to make the team meetings uncomfortable, just let it alone. Underneath, everyone was frustrated that she was not removed; but not being the leader with any authority, we felt we could do nothing.
I attempted to create a place in our team meetings for each of us to share what we were doing at our respective sites giving opportunity for people to share if they were struggling, unsure, or needed help. But most considered it a show and tell and the potential depth of the moment was never achieved.
I offered to help anyone, not wanting to single her out, since I felt I was getting some success at my site. The leader asked me to help her, and I spent a significant amount of time with her building some relationships and helping her work with her team. But she never took it anywhere.
I asked the project leader to evaluate each of us for our own professional development and files, but she refused to spend her time evaluating formally. She instead wanted to just coach us.
After a short time the two of us, who had been asked to cover her school, asked for a meeting with the woman. We asked the leader of the project to be present and mediate. Being a person who hated confrontation, the leader said nothing and so we attempted to share our frustration with this person. She cried, got mad, said she was trying, and she resented being ganged up on. NOTHING was resolved. The leader, apparently, had never confronted her on her progress and therefore she thought she was doing fine. We continued to do her job and resented the boss for not addressing it further.
This problem turned out to be the beginning of the end for the project. 90% of the team left before the project was over with reasons being “lack of leadership.” I don’t like the BLAME game, so I feel I have some responsbility to this situation. I NEVER did confront her directly. I tried to go around the issue to offer help and support, but in reality she had so little self-awareness she didn’t realize how poor her performance was nor how the team resented her.
I have learned a great deal from reflecting on this experience. First, I still struggle with direct confrontation. HUGE area of development for me.
2nd – The lack of clear expectations and opportunity to reflect on progress in an evaluative way with leadership cost this project its team. Just as Blanchard and Ridge in “Helping People Win at Work” built their entire company success on clear expectations, goal setting, and frequent opportunity to review and evaluate, this project could’ve weathered this storm had implemented a similar plan.
I won’t make this mistake with Trailhead Enterprises. There will be clear expectations, goal setting, and frequent opportunity to review and evaluate performance of those expectations and progress toward goals.
2. What has been a consistent strength of yours? What evidence do you have that this is an area in which you are strong? How do you leverage this strength to work for you on projects?
WOO (Winning Others Over) has always been a huge strength for me. My evidence falls into a couple of areas. 1) The “Strengthsfinder” program. It is a way to think about your strengths and how to leverage them against your weaknesses in your job, relationships, and life. The assessment is simple and one of my top ones was WOO. 2) Others have told me that I have a “something” that draws people to me, my ideas, and my missions. 3) I can see how simple it is for me to win people over to my ideas, my projects, and to me.
However, WOO demands follow through, not a strength for me. I can easily win others over and then they look for the next step and opportunity to get involved. If I don’t follow through and provide that, then my WOO will soon become empty promises. And I am no politician. 🙂
In terms of work and projects, I leverage my WOO to get people to trust me. They do, quite simply. However, if my idea or product doesn’t provide all that it promises, I lose that trust and earning it back will take more than WOO. Therefore, I leverage my WOO to strenthen my follow through.