By July 7, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Hire Strong-Willed Employees Who Will Challenge You as a Manager

Hire Strong-Willed Employees Who Will Challenge You as a Manager

Throughout my career I’ve had a wide range of staff working for me, from Wallflowers to Challengers. The Wallflowers are easy to manage while the Challengers not so much.

Since management isn’t a spectator sport and you have to really get in the game to be successful, Challengers are your best bet.

Passive managers who want an easy ride with their staff expect to simply use cookie-cutter management techniques and coast until the next opportunity arises. These managers usually gravitate to the Wallflowers.

This type of manager feels that if they have to spend time and energy managing their staff, they aren’t getting things done or getting results. That’s why they avoid Challengers. With Challengers, they will have to explain themselves, debate issues, consider alternate viewpoints, and expend energy to arrive at a conclusion or solution.

As a manager, you’re part of a team and each member of the team should be a valuable contributor. While Wallflowers have their place, Challengers will bring your game to the next level.

My best staff were Challengers. In several cases, colleagues from the other departments or the corporate offices would ask me why I hired them or why I kept them, usually because they encountered the characteristics I like so much in a Challenger and they didn’t like it.

A Challenger is the one most likely the put up their hand and say, “Boss, that’s a stupid idea and here’s why.” That leads to discussion and debate, including an opportunity to consider alternate experiences, ideas, and perspectives that you won’t get from your Wallflowers.

The simple reality is that as a manager, you simply can’t know everything and as a manager, you should consider input from your staff who often have more experience in their specialty than you and may even be smarter than you in certain areas. The important part, of course, is that they are willing to stand down when necessary and put their full support behind your decision.

Having a bunch of Wallflowers around will lull you into the belief that your decisions are right, since you’ll never be challenged and your staff won’t raise issues, ideas, or bring forward different perspectives from their own background that augment your own and get you to the best possible result.

Sometimes this is simply because you’re the boss and they don’t want to challenge the boss, sometimes it’s because they are content and don’t want to rock the boat, and sometimes because they are shy. Either way, unless they have a very specific skill or benefit within your team, they’re unlikely to help you advance your role and achieve results for your organization.

Getting to this point isn’t always easy. First, you have to identify and hire the right type of Challengers. Second, you need to develop the staff you have so they know they can challenge you and that you welcome contrary points of view. Some of your Wallflowers may turn into Challengers if they know there is no career risk involved with challenging your decisions or putting up their hand and saying, “Boss, that’s a stupid idea.”

If you don’t have the right mix of Wallflowers and Challengers on your team right now, you should first try to develop some of your Wallflowers into Challengers. If that doesn’t work, consider some lateral moves to free up space for new Challengers. Some of your colleagues might even be willing to trade you their Challengers for your Wallflowers. If that fails, you’ll simply have to look at more drastic means to change the dynamics in your group.

With a well-managed group of Challengers, supplemented with some valuable Wallflowers, you may have to spend more time and effort managing them, but the results will be worth it.

(This article originally appeared on AllBusiness Experts)

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

Posted in: Career, Human Resources

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