Square pegs are team members that require a lot of your time and energy, but they’re not yet delivering the results you expect. One of the biggest benefits of leading a square peg well is you get to feel the satisfaction of helping somebody else grow and develop.
Square pegs occupy the lower left corner of the Leadership Matrix because you’re putting in a lot of time and energy helping them build skills, but they’re not yet delivering the results you expect. Developing square pegs can be fun. It can be rewarding. These people want to perform well. Your job is to coach and develop them to help them build those required skills. Square pegs tend to take to such coaching and development eagerly. Their performance can improve quickly with the right intervention.
Some square pegs lack the skills that are going to make them effective. In those instances, sometimes moving a person to a new role can be your best option. Your goal with a square peg is to fill their skill gaps. Communicate your performance expectations of them and where they’re performing relative to those expectations. Let them know that the status quo is not sustainable. They need to improve their performance. Identify the skill gaps they need to fill. Build a plan with that individual for how they’re going to improve those gaps. It may be training. It may be new responsibilities. It may be coaching from someone else on the team. Set deadlines with them for you to see that performance improvement.
I have one individual who I work with as her executive coach. She had a member of her team who went from being an individual contributor to leading other people. This individual had never led anyone before. He became a square peg. She had to spend a lot of time with him teaching him how to lead other people, how to motivate the members of his team, how to set direction, and set priorities for the work his team was doing. He was in her office multiple times a week. She invested so much more time and energy into him than when he was an individual contributor. The good news was that he wanted to learn these skills. He was excited about leading other people. His performance improved pretty quickly.
The benefit of effectively leading a square peg is that you’re going to be reducing problems for other members of the team. The square peg isn’t getting it done and other people have to pick up the slack. By improving their performance, you’re making everybody else’s life easier. You’re going to take somebody who’s not performing and move them to being a performing member of a team. One of the biggest benefits of leading a square peg well is you get to feel the satisfaction of helping somebody else grow and develop. You’ll help them identify the gaps they need to fill and move them down that path to success.
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