My friend and neighbor—let’s call him Tim—is a major player in the financial planning world. His money management practice caters to top end investors and has consistently been ranked in the national top 10. His group of a dozen associates is a coordinated team focused on proactive service and investor specific advice. They need to be, as he says, a “well-oiled, coordinated machine firing on all cylinders every day.”
So when one of his long time assistants retired he had for the first time in almost a decade a need to add a new member to the team. By coincidence the retiring Emily was replaced by other women of the same name. They jokingly called her “New Emily”.
But almost immediately “New Emily” struggled. She appeared to have the skill sets the job demanded. She was smart and knew her numbers inside out. But she seemed hesitant to jump in and to some on the team she looked like she lacked drive.
It didn’t help matters that Tim is impatient by nature and assumed that “New Emily” should have been one step ahead of things right off the bat. It didn’t occur to him—or at least right away—that “New Emily” was, well “new”. He took for granted the lock-step movements of a coordinated team. “New Emily”, on the other hand, was hesitant because she was concerned about stepping on the toes of others. Something it turns out she had been criticized for in a previous job.
When he told me he was thinking about letting her go I gave him a recognition crash course. I suggested that he explain to her in definitive steps what he wanted her to accomplish, each day, and each week and for the remaining month, and then when she hit each goal, compliment her on the way she had gone about it. I coached him to set clear expectations so she could get a better sense of what was her responsibility –her turf if you will—but to also praise her effort and reinforce the value of her personal style.
By the end of the first month “New Emily” had settled in nicely and had become a big hit with clients and colleagues alike. Turns out she just needed a little direction and recognition. Now “New Emily” is thriving. Except Tim says they don’t call her “New Emily” anymore…”she’s the one and only Emily now.”