“Well then, why did you hire me?” And he said…

My boss and I were going over some projects, plans and planning.  I felt stonewalled at every turn, and my ongoing frustration from not being able to use my abilities and talents continued to build.  So, I expressed my frustration, cited my unused abilities and then asked, “Since you don’t use me beyond a limited way, why did your hire me?”

The situation reminded me of a time years before when I shared with him the tears and frustration of a young employee who was talented, gifted and excited about making a difference for the university and the program for which she was responsible.  I had provided her answers to many questions regarding budgets, staffing, university participation in our office’s plans, etc., and she started to cry.  She said, “Why do they hire us if they don’t want us to succeed?”  I shared her question with my boss a few days later.

Don’t make your team members need to ask these questions.

For decades, I always told new employees on their first day why it was they were chosen for the job.  I told them what the hiring committee and I saw in them, and reminded them that I wanted to see that person, those interests and those abilities come to work each day.  “Here is why I hired you” is a powerful, clarifying statement and helps manage expectations for both the new employee and the manager.

I have shared that “first day on the job” conversation idea in blogs, workshops, presentations and coaching sessions.  So far, not a single person has said, “My boss did that for me, too,” but many have said, “I wished my boss had done that for me.” 

It’s not too late if that didn’t happen on day one.  Beginning today – maybe even right after you finish reading this article – take a moment to remind someone on your team (or more than one!) why you are glad they are on the team, what traits or characteristics you appreciate, and what abilities you are pleased they can contribute to the organization’s success.  Thank them for the complete human being they are, and for sharing themselves.  Go ahead.  It will make their day, and yours.

For inquiring minds who want to know how my question and my team member’s question were answered … they were never addressed.  Don’t put others in that situation.

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