William was the Naughty Boy
I am sure we can all recall that naughty boy in our primary school class who always had to sit in front, because his reputation preceded him even before the first day of the new school year commenced. Maybe that naughty boy was you? Like any other primary school, we also had a “marked” child forced to sit right in front under the teacher’s nose. For the purpose of this article, we will call him William.
What fascinated me about William was the lesson I learnt from one of our teachers who took a significantly different approach with him. From day one she never singled him out. She never made him come and sit right in front. She treated him as she would have any other child – showed him patience and gave him encouragement. And the result was amazing. In her class, William’s behavior was exemplary. He treated her with respect, his homework was always done and his marks were high.
What had happened here is that William had responded to the way he was being treated. Many teachers had tried to control him by lying down the law from the very first day, but despite all their efforts, William remained a naughty, uncontrollable menace (in their view). Until finally someone decided to try a completely different approach and started off by giving William a clean slate. This teacher expected the best from William and she got it.
In our experience, William stories are not isolated to primary schools, but repeat themselves way too frequently in many companies around the world as well, with their supervisors, managers and leaders unaware of how their mindset and behavior towards a team member, can directly impact on their performance. How many Williams have you inherited during your career? How many Williams have you reinforced because of your perception of them? How many Williams have you motivated and inspired to transform and achieve their full potential?
Some Williams may take longer than others to trust you. And granted, not all Williams can be expected to respond the same. But if you can find the “on switch” in each and every one of your team members, I can assure you that your organization will never ever be the same again. And every William is worth it!