Give Them an Oil Change

Developing your team members can happen in a group format but it also should be happening in a one-on-one setting. We call a one-on-one meeting a PC. A PC is not a performance review but a chance for you to meet with your people regularly to proactively develop them.

There are two big reasons why doing PCs regularly is critical. The first reason is so that your people feel connected, valued, appreciated, positive, and invested in. It is also important to do them in order to have an opportunity to coach people— in other words, to help them develop new skills and hold them accountable for implementing those skills.

At Southwestern Consulting, we talk about a personal conference like an oil change. It is a chance for you to help your team member drain out all the old gunky oil that is slowing down their engine and put in good, fresh, clean oil that will help their engine hum.

This analogy is a good way of describing both functions of a PC.

First, for people to truly feel connected, valued, and appreciated, they need to have a forum where they can release anything that is bothering them. You provide a healthy outlet, a place where they can release their pent-up frustrations. If you don’t do this, they will either keep it bottled up or vent to someone else. It is much better for them to vent their frustrations on you as their leader rather than venting on their peers.

Also, if you don’t give them a chance to vent at the beginning of the conversation, they will typically bring it up at the end. It is always better to end the conversation on a high note than with a cliffhanger.

Another reason why the oil change analogy works is because leadership is a sales job. The number one reason that a salesperson does not make the sale is because they did not find a need for the solution before they presented the solution. Many managers make a similar mistake. They provide a lot of unsolicited advice. They present a solution to their team member without them fully buying into the idea that they need to change. In other words, they are trying to put the new oil in before draining the dirty oil out.

So, in addition to asking people how they are doing and allowing them to vent, a good leader also asks enough questions to help their team members realize an opportunity for growth and then asks their team member if they would like a solution. You can’t fill up with clean oil when the old oil is filling the engine.

Remember, just like a car or any other piece of equipment, our team members require maintenance.

Take the time to meet with them regularly and ask good questions. Then fill them up with encouragement and training so that you keep them operating at their optimal performance.

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