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Identify the Doers on Your Staff

The world consists of tellers, intenders and doers, according to my former boss, Rick Bush. Tellers are people who tell you what you want to hear with no intention of ever doing what they say. Intenders are people who intend to do things but rarely end up doing them. Doers are the people who actually get things done.

Rick is a doer. And a rule-breaker. And smart in a wily way. (He would take that as a tremendous compliment.) All of that made him an exasperating boss for a rule-follower like me, but it now makes him a great mentor because unlike most people, he does not feel constrained by rules or conventional thinking. He has regaled me with many stories about how he, as editorial director of a magazine in another industry, has faced down advertisers threatening to pull advertisements if he did not give into their demands and instead turned the situation around to get $50,000 from the vendors for sponsorship of a special section in his publication. The man has no fear. That is essential in a good doer.

Your staff is made up of tellers, intenders and doers. Over time, you have likely determined which category each fits into, even if you have done so unconsciously. Knowing this information can help you relate to these people better and determine how to assign tasks.

Doers are great people to have on your staff. Doers come through for you consistently, and sometimes in ways that surprise you, such as the employee who cleans up the broken glass by the front door of your facility and boards up the hole in the broken window without thinking that that task was someone else’s responsibility. They are also the people who not only come up with great business ideas but they jump in to make sure those ideas are implemented.

Tellers are a different story. Tellers can be frustrating until you figure out that they are tellers. Then, you just smile as they tell you what you want to hear and you move on knowing never to expect anything from them. If you have a lot of tellers on your staff, your business is likely in trouble.

The most frustrating people are the intenders. They intend to do things and usually end up doing some of those things. However, almost as many intended initiatives are never completed for various reasons: lack of time, lack of interest, fear of failure. The problem with intenders is that you never know what they will follow through on and what they won’t, so it is difficult to know whether to assign them a task.

We all fall into one of these categories most of the time, but our category may change depending on the task at hand or the motivation in front of us. Tellers who are motivated by cash might become doers if a financial reward is offered. Your job as the leader of your group is to determine what motivates each staff member to become doers.

Keep in mind that as you have determined which category your staff fall into, they have determined which one you fall into. Are you a leader who comes up with big ideas and then never follows through? Leaders who consistently are seen as doers are leaders people will follow and emulate. So, the key to creating a staff full of doers is to become one yourself. Breaking rules is optional.

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